The definitions of "bespoke", "made-to-measure" and "custom" suits are, in my opinion, the most misunderstood terms in the tailoring universe, especially when it comes to evaluating which is "better." At Saint Laurie Merchant Tailors, it depends on what the situation calls for. If we are doing a film or theater project where a unique design is needed for a period look, a completely original pattern will be made for the actor. I guess you could call that "bespoke." On the other hand, if a client likes an existing design and just wants it to fit him properly, that would be "made-to-measure." And when a customer is particularly difficult to fit and we have to have numerous interim fittings, I guess you could call that "custom."
By the way, more fittings for a custom suit is not necessarilly a sign of better quality. It may just be a sign of less skillfull fitter. There is one tailoring concern in New York that makes all its clients suit jacketsto a standard size and then does a fitting without the sleeves and collar in place. The client sees a partially made garment held together by basting stitches and assumes he is getting “real custom,” when all he is getting is a lot of inexact alterations that kill any style the garment originally had..
Do not lose sight of what the ultimate goals are when you have custom clothing made for you—that you look good, feel comfortable and the clothing lasts. Choose your tailor on his ability to help you accomplish these goals, not by the labels attached to his process.
That’s the Saint Laurie way.