frequently we are asked to outline key differences between fashion terminologies that are often seen as interchangeable or marketing jargon. bespoke, custom, and made-to-measure, for example, are commonly treated as synonymous “buzz words”, confusing the consumer and distort their inherent value. in an attempt to alleviate confusion and elevate your sartorial experience, we have compiled a list of commonly used words and their definitions.
the following terms are specific to the sartorial practice – you may hear a few at your next fitting.
bespoke; what’s in a name.
at michel’s bespoke, our garments are genuine bespoke masterpieces. a unique pattern is created for each client in our in-house atelier, located in north york, toronto. garments are individually cut and sewn according to each clients’ distinct measurements by canadian artisans. while it is increasingly common for clothiers to employ in-house tailors for alteration purposes, the construction of their garment are outsourced to foreign markets. “bespoke” requires garments to be made in-house from a unique patter, allowing for endless customization and extensive attention to detail.
atelier - a private workshop of a professional in the fine arts.
alterations - the act or process of modifying finished garments. limited by the garments' original construction.
canvas - typically comprised of wool or horsehair, the canvas refers to the construction of the suit jacket, hidden from view between the fabric and lining. the canvas plays a fundamental role keeping the balance, structure and shape of the jacket. over time, the canvas conforms to your body shape, enhancing the form and fit.
custom - an enhanced mtm process. measurements and details are noted and accounted for in the garments’ construction. interim fitting required before garment is finished, furthering the customization the individuals’ pattern.
fitting - the trying on of a garment mid-construction in order to refine its structural integrity and fit.
fusing - an adhesive material used to create sturdiness and shape and prevent stretching in fabric. often used on the collar and cuff of shifts and throughout a jacket.
lining - an inner layer of fabric that provides a polished finish, concealing any construction details. Linings also add a layer of insulation and reinforces shapes and silhouettes.
made to measure (mtm) - the modification of a standardized pattern that takes a handful of an individuals’ measurements into account. the garment is present finished, without interim, integral fittings. limited measurements/design/customization available.
notch lapel - an indent- or ‘notch’- in the jacket's lapel where the collar meets the lapel. versatile and subtle.
off the rack - mass-produced garments purchased "off the rack" in retail stores. typically, manufactured with the belief "one size (42) fits all", however this is not the case. garments are available only in he fabric and styles ordered by the retailer.
peak lapel - jacket's lapel-points jut up and out towards the shoulders where the collar meets the lapel. traditionally more formal, fashion and powerful.
rise - the distance from the middle of the crotch seam (directly between your legs) to the top of the waistband. determines where the pant sit on your body, which in turn creates your perceived waistline.
sartorial - relates to a tailor or tailoring. can also be used to describe clothing, manners or style.
shawl lapel - reserved for tuxedos, dinner jackets and smoking jackets, though not a requisite factor. recognized by the distinct, round edges with smooth, curving lines.
understanding the different methodologies of construction will enable you to be an informed consumer. ask questions – where is my suit made? where is the fabric i selected from? is this bespoke, made to measure or off the rack?