At one time, tailors simply called themselves "tailors". Some specialists put "court" or "military" before or after "tailor" because they had particular skills.
Until about 1954, men attending a Royal Court had to wear a uniform including knee breeches and, as there were very few tailors who could make these, those particular tailors would quite often add "court" to their signs. It was the same for military tailoring as some of those clothes, particularly before 1950, were very special.
At about the time when court tailoring stopped, some tailors started selling ready-made clothes. It was to separate themselves from those tailors, that some started adding "bespoke" or "made to measure" to their signs. Both names meant the same thing so initially names simply reflected how pretentious one was.
In the early '90s a form of suit tailoring was developed that was completely new; individual mass production. This was, and still is, a very sophisticated use of computer aided design (CAD). The people who sell these items generally call themselves “made to measure tailors” even though few, if any, are trained tailors.
A “made to measure” suit is created in a factory just like any other mass produced suit and can be adjusted to a person's measurements before being cut and made. It is a very clever process but has its limitations. Size adjustments can only be made within strict parameters, which will only work for some people; and certainly not all. The correct fit also depends on the skill of the person taking the measurements and noting the actual figure of the client. You only have to look at the two figures opposite to see how different two people with similar measurements but different postures can look. Also this type of suit is almost always fused (view our article on canvases). The other drawback is the person taking the measurements is very often different from the person cutting the garment. There are a lot of middlemen involved in the production of the suit so detail and precise work will be lost. The customer as a result does not get as well made a suit as if it had been produced by a bespoke tailor
A “bespoke” tailor is usually a traditional tailor. He would measure the client, cut a pattern which is laid on cloth, chalk around the pattern, and then cut the garment by hand. The advantage of this is that it makes sure that a high level of care is maintained to meet the customer’s individual shape and measurements, creating a quality finished product. The garment is then sent to a workshop to be sewn either by an individual sewing tailor, or by a team of tailors working together. In “bespoke tailoring” the person who measures you is in most cases a trained tailor. It will be he who either cuts the suit or the pattern. Cutting out the middlemen makes it far more likely that the garment will be as the customer expected. In most instances, bespoke garments have floating canvases (view our article on canvases).
At Manning & Manning, we create quality, bespoke garments. We offer our customers a choice of fused or floating canvases, and we recommend the best option for our client’s needs. We have improved our fitting methods by making a range of fitting garments which match our master patterns, developed over many years, skilfully adjusted in line with style trends. Try Manning & Manning and you will feel the difference.