Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Custom clothing: There is a difference

Posted By on Wed, Jun 17, 2009 at 10:43 AM

click to enlarge made2measure3.jpg

I’m quite often asked, “Is there really that much difference between custom and off the rack clothing?” The answer is yes, absolutely.

There are three types of clothing: custom, made to measure, and off the rack. All have their benefits and weaknesses, and are usually chosen based on budget. Those with less discretionary income tend to buy off the rack. Those more affluent tend to trend towards custom. Those in the middle buy made to measure. I know, you’re wondering what the difference is. Well, I’ll tell you.

Off the rack is what you buy from most department and clothing stores. Prices can range depending on the store. Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus offer a really expensive price point, while Joseph A. Bank and Men’s Warehouse offer a lower priced product. Don’t let price fool you. Most off-the-rack suits are made in the same places. Usually the difference in the suit is the tag inside. That’s right, the suit you bought for $250 at the big box store is the same as the one you bought for $1,600, at the high-end store. So be careful not to fall for expensive tags. If you spend over $800 for a suit, buy custom or made to measure.

Made to measure is just that: made to your measurements. This is not custom. Made to measure is basically an off-the-rack suit, with the alterations done before you get it. Tom James offers made to measure, though they tell clients it's custom. Many clothiers will tell you it’s the same as custom. It is not even close.

Custom is the king. When purchasing a custom garment, you design it. Everything is exactly the way you want it. When you wear a custom suit, you are wearing an extension of yourself. It’s the pinnacle of clothing. If you can afford it, you should always buy custom. I tell all my clients, if you can afford custom, buy custom. There is no substitute for getting exactly what you want.

Most clothiers will lie to you and tell you custom and made to measure are the same thing. Ask your clothier if custom, and made to measure, is the same thing. If he says yes, get a new one. He’s a liar. Until next time…

William Wilson is a nationally respected men’s clothier and image consultant. His clients include professional athletes, CEOs, and corporations. His homepage is Follow William on Twitter:

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