Difference between bespoke, made-to-measure and ready-to-wear

As I’m currently in the process of ordering my first bespoke garment, I wanted to sort out the difference between bespoke, made-to-measure and ready-to-wear. I never really thought about the main differences before, apart from the obvious of course, price, time etc. So I sat down and researched the web a bit to find out what other more experienced connoisseurs had to say. I would like to dedicate this post to share a summary of the main differences and most interesting things that I read and found out.

The bespoke order that I currently have ongoing is a polo coat though Zaremba Bespoke from Poland, and I will be sharing this experience with you on the website and guide you through the process later on.

What is ready to wear (RTW)?
A RTW suit is bought off the rack, in a shape and style determined by the designer/manufacturer/brand. The majority of the suits are made this way and is typically what you find in your normal store, haberdashery or online. RTW suits are pre-made to a generic size and specification based on pre-defined patterns/pieces of fabric.

Difference between bespoke, made-to-measure and ready-to-wear
RTW jacket from Suitsupply | Photo: Pontus Jonsén

What is made to measure (MTM)?
The MTM suit is like RTW, but is altered to fit the specific user/buyer. Normally you visit the store (or online) and take a few measurements e.g. chest, waist, sleeve length, trouser length and trouser waist. You also choose fabric, style and other details before the order is sent to a factory. Here the factories usually also use pre-defined patterns that are modified based on your measurements. The result is a suit cut to your personal dimensions.

Difference between bespoke, made-to-measure and ready-to-wear
Fitting with Gabriel from Engelska Herr for a MTM suit | Photo: Pontus Jonsén

What is bespoke?
Bespoke, involves creating a suit from scratch. The process normally begins with an initial discussion with the tailor (or some other representative). The tailor then takes your measurements, depending on what type of garment the number measurements can vary a lot. Normally this is completed with detailed notes about posture and body shape. A set of unique patterns are then drawn and cut, by using the measurements and notes as a guide.

The chosen fabric is then cut using the patterns, after which the fit is refined to the final product after several so called “fittings” (more on this in the series I will write about my polo coat). Usually it takes between two and three fittings, but sometimes more before the garments is finished.

Difference between bespoke, made-to-measure and ready-to-wear
Taking my measurements with Maciej from Zaremba Bespoke for a bespoke Polo Coat | Photo: Thomas from TheBespokeShop

Pros & Cons
There are of course pros and cons with all three ways of buying a suit (or other garments). Below i will try to highlight a few:

RTW:
+ You see the end result right away
+ Take it home with you the same day or wait a few days to get the necessary alterations from a local tailor
+ Depending on brand, probably the most affordable of the 3 options
+ Increasing in quality and details previously only available with bespoke garments
– Pre defined fit and that in many cases wont fit you perfectly
– Pre defined choices that in some cases you would like to change but you can’t

Difference between bespoke, made-to-measure and ready-to-wear
RTW Jacket from Massimo Dutti | Photo: Pontus Jonsén

MTM:
+ Possibility to get a better fit than RTW by altering / changing measurements
+ Possibility to make your own choices such as fabric, cut, lining just to mention a few
+ – Normally a delivery time somewhere between 4-8 weeks
– Better fit but not always perfect as you can only alter to a certain degree
– The result is very dependent on the person taking your measurements (normally a salesman not a tailor)
– Often more expensive than RTW

Difference between bespoke, made-to-measure and ready-to-wear
MTM jacket from Pelote | Photo: Dennis Bärlund

Bespoke:
+ With a good tailor the biggest benefit of bespoke is the fit
+ Bespoke offers the opportunity to develop a individual garment in all aspects
+ The quality in the constructions is often better than other “mass produced” garments
– It takes time, normally several fittings with several weeks in-between
– The price is normally a few times higher than RTW/MTM
– The first order is normally never “perfect” (but should be better than both RTW/MTM if done properly)

Difference between bespoke, made-to-measure and ready-to-wear
Taking my measurements with Maciej from Zaremba Bespoke for a bespoke Polo Coat | Photo: Thomas from TheBespokeShop

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Best regards
AleksJJ

2 comments on “Difference between bespoke, made-to-measure and ready-to-wear

  1. Good rundown of the options!

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