Fine men's bespoke and made to measure tailoring

Why made in Britain should mean made in Britain

Aug 20 2013


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When do you call a spade a spade and not a shovel? This is a question I have been pondering since stumbling across an article in a recent edition of men’s glossy magazine, Esquire.

The article in question was focusing on the latest phenomenon to hit the high street – buying Savile Row designed suits at high street prices.

Debenhams, Austin Reed and Marks & Spencer have all teamed up with leading Savile Row tailors Patrick Grant of E Tautz, Nick Hart of Spencer Hart and Richard James of Richard James to offer customers Savile Row tailored suits.


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Marks & Spencer has worked with Richard James to produce its collection of suits. One of the UK’s top Savile Row bespoke tailors, Richard James set up in 1992 and has been credited with having done much to revitalise the world of quality tailoring.

Its trademark, slim modern suits, jackets and trousers together with the bold use of colour have earned it a large celebrity following including Tom Jones, Pierce Brosnan, David Cameron, Tom Cruise and Sir Elton John to name but a few.


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The suits designed for Marks & Spencer are all priced at a fraction of what they would cost on Savile Row.

But it is not clear where they have been made – the implication is they are made in the UK, but the reality is quite different.


  1. Is an illusion being created?

Marks & Spencer is marketing its Savile Row inspired suits stating they have been made with “traditional British tailoring techniques” using cloth sourced from the Alfred Brown woollen mill in West Yorkshire. And to top it off, they have included a Union Jack on the garment label. In my mind, this all implies that the suits are British-made.

But on closer inspection, the small label in the pocket reveals the suit, that I looked at, had been made in China.

As a made to measure tailor in London, my clients all know that my suits are made in the EU using the best technology and I do not hide this from them. They also know, that I offer the ultimate bespoke suit.

  1. Does it matter that high street stores are selling these suits?

I have no concerns about how Marks & Spencer are constructing these suits; I just feel they are creating illusions about them.

Savile Row tailoring is the ‘Rolls Royce’ of bespoke tailoring. Generations of skilled craftsmen have set the ultimate standards for quality tailoring. So in my opinion, as a made to measure tailor in London, it is rather an insult to this tradition for retailers to claim they are offering Savile Row quality at a fraction of the price.

The Marks and Spencer suit is made to an acceptable quality standard but not to the same spec as a Savile Row suit. However, the ‘branding’ will command a higher price to its normal suits, so the question is, is that fair?

A simple analogy is this, would you believe a car salesman who offered you a hand made car for 10% of the actual selling price of a Rolls Royce?

I rest my case.

Is it ethical to suggest that these suits are UK made when in fact they are not? Is it morally right that you can buy the same Savile Row garment construction at 10% of the price?

Category: Bespoke Suits, Designer Suits, made to measure, Suit Cloth, Tailoring Advice, Ultimate Bespoke

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