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  1. Luxury
June 16, 2023

London’s best made-to-measure suits: buying tips from leading tailors

The capital’s finest tailoring houses offer up their secrets to buying a made-to-measure suit that’s a cut above the rest

By Joshua Hendren

For many, a made-to-measure suit is a wardrobe essential, akin to a classic loafer or a crisp white tee.

The quickest and most efficient way to own a beautifully fitted suit tailored to one’s own desires, made-to-measure begins with a pattern and multiple pieces of pre-cut fabric. Suits are then customised according to customers’ measurements and preferences.

Five of London’s most storied tailoring houses tell Spear’s the trade secrets behind the process and what they believe makes a truly great made-to-measure suit.

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Edward Sexton

Knightsbridge-based Edward Sexton, who co-founded Nutters of Savile Row before setting up under his own name, is renowned for dressing rock aristocracy Mick Jagger during his 1970s heyday, and is one of the few bespoke tailors to master both men’s and women’s tailoring.

Made-to-measure suits: Edward Sexton
Elegancy reigns at Edward Sexton / Image: Edward Sexton

Made-to-measure suits: what to look for

‘With any made-to-measure suit it is about creating an elegant line,’ says Dominic Sebag-Montefiore, Edward Sexton’s creative director. ‘Many tailors make the mistake of fitting the body, but we prefer to make a beautiful silhouette.’

Edward Sexton’s signature cut

Inspired by the 1920s, Edward Sexton suits are characterised by a strong shoulder line and statement lapels.

‘We have a strong masculine shoulder with emphasis on the chest and a bit of drama in the lapel. Our signature roped shoulder helps finish things off.’

Made-to-measure suits: Edward Sexton
Made-to-measure suits come with added drama at Edward Sexton / Image: Edward Sexton

Made-to-measure suits: what to avoid

Don’t add details for the sake of it, Sebag-Montefiore says. ‘Just because you can have any colour lining or a variety of pocket styles does not mean you should.

‘Work out what you want from your suit, a clear direction and go there. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel – cut, proportions and good quality cloth speak volumes.’

Scabal

Storied cloth merchant Scabal is globally renowned for its premium wool fabrics, woven at its heritage mill in Huddersfield, and for its made-to-measure suits, which can be personalised to the smallest detail.

Made-to-measure suits: Scabal
Scabal customers have more than 500 fabrics to choose from / Image: Scabal

How to approach made-to-measure

Scabal encourages customers to have their own ideas, but to ‘be open to expert help and suggestions’.

‘Different body types look better in different models and a true tailoring specialist will be able to help advise on the best choices,’ says Vivienne Davis, Strategic Marketing and Retail Director.

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Scabal’s signature cut

Scabal shies away from committing to a ‘signature’ style. ‘Our goal is to create a garment that fits the style of our client,’ Davis explains.

‘We present our collections as inspiration, but our role is to guide them through the process of creation, narrowing down the choices and giving advice so that the result is exactly what the client desires.’

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Made-to-measure suits: Scabal
Scabal supports the use of soft ‘performance’ fabrics / Image: Scabal

‘Super’ fabrics

With a catalogue of more than 5,000 luxury fabrics, it’s perhaps no surprise that Scabal recommends being experimental with cloth choices. Davis particularly advises customers to consider ‘performance’ collections and those with high worsted wool counts. ‘Superior Super 200s wools like Summit help create something really special.

A fabric named ‘Wizard’ has a two-way stretch created through the weaving process ‘which makes it incredibly soft, but … ensures that it keeps its shape’.

The Deck

Entrepreneur and designer Daisy Knatchbull founded The Deck in 2019 to widespread acclaim. From single-breasted velvet suits and relaxed boyfriend jackets to contemporary safari styles and evening tuxedos, the first women’s-only made-to-measure tailoring house with a Savile Row storefront explains its process.

Made-to-measure suits: The Deck
The Deck offers and eclectic range of suit styles for women on Savile Row / Image: The Deck

Made-to-measure suits: experiment with styles

‘Don’t be afraid to try different things – we’ve had so many women convinced they couldn’t wear a flare, or a double breasted jacket who are totally converted, says Knatchbull. ‘You don’t need to have an office job to wear a suit, nor is it for “young and fashionable” women only.’

The Deck’s signature cut

‘Our house silhouette has a nipped in waist, strong shoulder and slightly longer jacket with a slightly higher waisted trouser. This gives the illusion of one being taller and slimmer by drawing the eye into the centre of the body – elongating both the leg and body.’

The Deck style, as worn by founder Daisy Knatchbull, elongates the body / Image: The Deck

Pay attention to details

‘Pair suits with well-made staples,’ Knatchbull advises. ‘A good silk shirt, nude or black stiletto, statement earrings, well-cut white t-shirt, polo neck and a pair of trainers will accompany your suits beautifully from day to night.’

clothsurgeon

Founded by Rav Matharu in 2012, cult London label clothsurgeon is the first bespoke streetwear shop to open on the fabled Savile Row. A-list fans include Riz Ahmed, Lewis Hamilton, Drake and A$AP Rocky.

Sharp tailoring at clothsurgeon / Image: Kee Kunnath

Made-to-measure suits: what to look for

‘When looking for any made-to-measure product, there should be focus on the fabric, initial fit and look of the block [foundation of the signature style], and how that drapes and makes you feel when wearing it,’ Matharu explains.

He emphasises the importance of considering materials when it comes to achieving the desired finish. ‘The design and silhouette of the piece can vary greatly with each cloth, whether you want structured classic British tailoring, or an Italian flair.

‘Always speak to your tailor in advance on how you want your made-to-measure suit to fit, and they can guide you through the process with this in mind.’

Made-to-measure suits: what to avoid

Matharu is another top tailor to warn against ‘over-designing’. ‘It should be an extension of your personal style, elevated through fabric and craftsmanship,’ he says.

clothsurgeon’s signature cut

The left-field brand is known for applying signature precision to tricky fabrics ‘from suedes, leathers to linens, depending on the season and the client’s requests,’ Matharu says.

‘We cut across the body with all kinds of technical fabrics that often aren’t readily available as swatches, so our signature look is quite different from other tailoring houses.’

clothsurgeon prides itself on precision / Image: Kee Kunnath

Made-to-measure suits: consider upcycling

‘Some tailors, including us, offer a reconstructed programme which is something to consider,’ says Matharu. ‘We take apart existing bags or clothing items to a flat piece of fabrication and then reconstruct them into new tailored pieces.’

Richard Anderson

Richard Anderson is classic British Savile Row tailoring at its best. Opened in 2001 by Brian Lishak and Richard Anderson, the independent brand specialises in traditional made-to-measure and bespoke suiting with a contemporary flair.

Made-to-measure suits: Richard Anderson
Concave shoulders are not an option with made-to-measure suits / Image: Richard Anderson

Fabric choice

When it comes to selecting fabric, Lishak, a Row veteran of over 65 years, suggests ‘good quality natural fibres, like wool, including mohair and cashmere, linen or cotton’.

He recommends investing in a ‘cleanly made, fully canvassed jacket’ in materials dependent on the wearer’s usage.

For business-wear, that would be ‘clean finished, tightly spun and woven worsted wool’. He suggests a ‘worsted count’ – the density of the yarn – of up to 80, while occasion wear suits can handle ‘softer, finer 100s and above’.

The higher number makes for more wrinkling and lower durability, but with a luxurious finish.

Richard Anderson’s signature cut

‘Slim’ and ‘elegant’ are Richard Anderson watchwords.

‘Trim shoulders, high armholes. A single front coat buttoning just above the natural waistline. The pockets are slightly higher. Trim through the back showing a defined waist but not tight so it wrinkles, especially with movement.’

Richard Anderson made-to-measure suits are slim-fitting with higher pockets / Image: Richard Anderson

Made-to-measure suits: what to avoid

Lishak is not a fan of ‘fused, cheaply made jackets that quickly sport concave front shoulders’.

‘Beware of salesmen with limited knowledge, whose interest is to make a sale rather than look after your interests,’ he advises.

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