What Sets Us Apart

Those who understand tailoring like to talk about the differences between a beautiful bespoke suit and a suit made factory-style. Some of these differences are tangible, others are about the aesthetic and the way the wearer feels in the suit. At Artur & Tailors Ltd, this is one of our favorite subjects, because on the continuum of well-made bespoke to production-style suit, we come out favorably.

The cardinal difference between bespoke and factory-made is in the front canvas of the jacket. When you first hold a jacket in your hands, feel the front and try to find an extra layer of fabric floating between the lining and the outside fabric. Many tailors, even ones who give themselves the moniker bespoke or hand-made, do not use a floating front canvas, despite its importance. A floating canvas is essential for giving the jacket a nice body and masculine drape, as well as for the longevity of the jacket. Without any front canvas, the jacket will move flimsily, kind of "like a woman's blouse." But it takes time to put a canvas in by hand — by far the best way, and the one that we use at Artur & Tailors — so most tailors have developed ways to circumvent the process. They may glue the canvas to the front of the jacket, but if not treated gingerly, this can result in the fabric appearing bubbly over time, if it comes unstuck in places from sweat or steam. Or a tailor might put in only a half-canvas, which is (you guessed it) about half as good as a fully canvassed jacket.

There are also differences in our fitting process. Artur believes that clients need to see the garment all together to understand better what it will look like when finished, and that the first fitting is also where many changes in fit and design should be possible. To balance both these goals, our first fittings are made in the real fabric, with sleeves, shoulder pads, under-collars, and edges all hand-basted in place. This level of finishing takes about double the amount of time many other tailors take to prepare jackets for first fitting, but it helps the client to visualize the finished product, and means that sometimes, additional fittings are not necessary. (Of course, it also helps that Artur’s patterns are often spot-on from the beginning!)

Another unusual and important aspect of our process is that the same person (Artur) takes measurements, makes patterns, fits the garments, and makes the post-fitting corrections. This last part is the unusual one. You might think that the tailor who fit the garments would be the one to interpret the changes, but many jacket- and pants-makers we've worked with or queried are surprised that Artur corrects his own garments! Even when there are few changes in the fitting, the corrections are more time-consuming than making the original pattern, since the garments are taken apart whether the changes are big or small. Vests and pants are always opened completely, re-marked, and started over. Jackets retain three of their seam lines and one pocket, but are otherwise opened and re-marked by chalk before being given to a tailor to hand trace the lines with thread again. Tailcoats and frockcoats are the most time-consuming to correct, since Artur must also machine-stitch several parts together that were previously hand-basted before he can finish marking the changes. So, yes, correcting garments takes a hours of a patternmaker's time, but the alternative — just handing garments to stitchers and asking them to follow pins dashed into a garment during a fitting, with no knowledge of how it fit on the wearer, or what fit the designer wants, much less general knowledge of patternmaking — seems like a good recipe for losing nuances of fit, or even more broad strokes.

Another specific garment that we give the care it deserves (yet rarely sees these days) is the tailcoat. Our tailcoats are made the way they've been made for centuries. We add an extra layer of fabric inside the tails — set in entirely by hand — to give them the appropriate amount of body. To this, we add another layer of fabric along the edge, also stitched in by hand, and finally the lining, sewn by hand as well. Many other tailors make the tail by gluing interfacing into the fabric and then simply machine stitching the lining and the main fabric together. That method is very fast, but the tail will not last as long, and may move differently on the wearer.

When it comes to arms and legs, we don't think that wearing a suit means no dancing! We've cut non-stretch fabrics that allow over-the-head kicks, and made suits for ballet dancers. Artur understands the changes that need to be made to sleeve and pants patterns to allow for serious (or not so serious) dancing without affecting the look.

Even in smaller details we take care with our garments. We want to enjoy our work (and we do), and that means our eyes look for ways to make beautiful garments, instead of always choosing the quickest way. We are fanatical about matching stripes; our pockets are made with a method that requires some parts to be stitched by hand, but since they lay so much nicer in the garments that way, we think the extra time is worth it; and all of our garments have specific places where we use the steam iron to stretch or shrink the fabric to achieve smoother shaping and a more perfect fit.

For images of processes described here, please visit the gallery Building the Garments.