What do you think of when you hear the term, "made-to-measure"?
When asked this question, some people conjure up a sartorial image of well dressed men with perfectly groomed beards and a dashing bow tie being measured in a tailor shop for their custom wardrobe.
Others, probably are drawing a complete blank. Don't worry, we are here to demystify the world of made-to-measure for you!
Ready-to-Wear: A 20th Century Invention
The traditional way of buying clothes that we are all very familiar with is called ready-to-wear, prêt-à-porter in french, and also called "off-the-rack". This is a term for factory-made clothing that is sold in standardized sizes and can be purchased and worn immediately.
Get it? Ready-to-wear equals "ready to be worn". Think of it as a grab and go option at your local lunch spot. You're short on time, only have 30 minutes before your next work meeting, no time to sit down at a restaurant for a full hot meal. So, you grab a ready-made sandwich and eat on the run.
Surprisingly enough, this way of shopping for clothes actually only became mainstream very recently in human history. Although the idea of mass produced garments had been used for military uniforms throughout history, it didn't really exist before the industrial revolution and definitely didn't become popular until the 20th century!
So, how did people get their clothes before ready-to-wear?
Typically, women of means could order garments from a catalog of sketches or from a miniature sample presented on a half-sized mannequin. Then they would be measured and choose their own fabrics and design details. The designs would then be sewn by their local dressmaker. Women who could not afford this luxury generally made their own clothes. Essentially, before the 20th century, women were all getting what we now refer to as bespoke fashion.
Made-to-Measure, Bespoke, and Haute Couture
Made-to-measure (abbreviated MTM), refers to semi-customizable clothing that has been made from a standardized pattern but adjusted to fit a particular person's measurements and design specifications. Typically this is a service offered just to men... but we are working hard to change that!
Some men's brands you may have heard of are: Indochino, J. Hilburn, and Black Lapel.
Custom clothing that is made from a sewing pattern that is drafted for a particular person based on their measurements and specifications for design and fit. This is also very common in menswear, but not widely available for women.
Some brands that offer Bespoke clothing are: Jeffrey Scott, Commonwealth Proper, and Tom James.
Literally, "high sewing". First established in 1858 by English couturier Charles Frederick Worth, this term refers to clothing that has been completely custom made for a client and also adheres to the following rules as set by the Paris Chamber of Commerce:
- Design made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings.
- Have a workshop (atelier) in Paris that employs at least fifteen people full-time.
- Each season (i.e. twice a year) present a collection to the Paris press, comprising at least thirty-five runs/exits with outfits for both daytime wear and evening wear.
Haute couture is a serious business and is protected by law in France. Some Couture brands you may be familiar with include: Chanel, Christian Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Givenchy.
Made-to-Measure is the happy marriage of the convenience and affordability of ready-to-wear with the perks of personalization and the tailored fit of bespoke fashion.
In the ever evolving retail landscape, many women are interested in a more personalized shopping experience with the benefit of achieving the perfect fit. Women who have special size requirements, (i.e. plus size, petite, etc.) are left out from the standardized sizing charts of ready-to-wear fashion industry. Most companies don't offer a petite option, and only go up to a size 12! This is surprising, considering that according to a study by the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology, and Education, the average size of the American woman is currently between a 16 to 18. Women also have much more complex figures than men and are more likely to be unhappy with the fit of ready-to-wear garments. Our solution? Made-to-measure for women!
Book your appointment with the designer today to enjoy a new type of shopping experience with personalized fit and style. Are you ready to give made-to-measure a try?