The Finest Cut


The Finest Cut

So, you want your first 'bespoke' suit crafted. What does it entail? Pawan and Ashish of bespoke tailoring house Knights & Lords give you the lowdown

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Published: Thu 17 Jan 2019, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Sun 31 Mar 2019, 4:21 PM

Tailoring has long been considered a craft traditionally done by tailors using their hands with their skills being honed under the tutelage of a master tailor. Today, the craft of tailoring has evolved with two different approaches: made-to-measure and bespoke. The traditional craft came to be known as bespoke tailoring, which was practised by men's suit-makers dating back to four centuries. The term 'bespoke' has been coined from the word 'be-speak' - essentially the act of commissioning a piece of clothing being mindful of a person's lifestyle needs and measurements, made out of a fabric of their choice (it meant that the length of the fabric was "spoken for" by them).
There are a few things to keep in mind before visiting a bespoke tailor for the first time.

1. It is of utmost importance to first understand your needs before you commission a bespoke suit or shirt. Requirements vary: work, leisure or formal events.

Questions to ask oneself:
Work wear: Is it to be worn frequently to work where one needs it to be subtle or is it for an important meeting or worn to a seminar being a guest speaker where it needs to showcase an elevated outlook of the person wearing it?
Leisure wear: Is it to be worn to a brunch, a semi-formal dinner or a lounge? If so, it needs to be catered to differently than if one were attending sporting events like golf, Formula One racing or horse racing, in which case the attire would need to be quite different.
Formal wear: Occasions such as weddings, gala evenings, opera evenings, award ceremonies, black-tie events and certain themed evenings warrant a very different formalised dress code.
The time it takes to complete a bespoke suit commission is a factor that a lot of people fail to consider. The true investment in a bespoke suit is the time that needs to be put in by the tailor to craft the suit from start to finish with multiple fittings; it demands patience from the person commissioning the suit.

2. True bespoke would involve the first drafting session with an experienced bespoke tailor at the time of commissioning your suit. One would be spoilt for choice from the umpteen fabric options along with discussing the purpose of the suit to assist with multiple styling options for the same. Preferential lifestyle aspects along with around 50 unique measurements are recorded to ensure that, ultimately, the suit is a perfect self-expression of the person commissioning it. It is also a well-known fact of the bespoke tradition that "the hands that measure are the ones that will cut" the suit.
It typically requires around 80 to 100 hours of handwork to craft a bespoke suit, along with some more hours dedicated to a series of trial fittings, during which the suit takes the form of the body, with every fitting ensuring it becomes one with the person.
The entire timeline for completing a bespoke suit varies between tailoring houses but one would generally need at least a month - depending on the number of fittings, complexity of handwork and the time for the individual artisans working on it.

3. Contrary to popular belief, a bespoke suit isn't necessarily out of reach in terms of the monetary investment one puts in, keeping in mind that it can easily be worn for many years to come. In close circles, it is often said that the need for another bespoke suit is only to widen the scope of wearing different suits for different occasions and not because your existing suits don't serve you well any more.

4. It is always important to know what approach to tailoring one would like to experience. There are vast differences between made-to-measure tailoring and bespoke tailoring, with the only similarity between the two being getting an item of clothing made with a fabric of choice. The entire approach with regards to handwork, precision, timelines and respect to the tradition of the craft is completely different as made-to-measure is primarily executed using machines.
A bespoke suit is crafted as a reflection of your personality - making it an extension of yourself. It is hence said that a suit is made, but a bespoke suit is born.
[Pawan and Ashish are bespoke tailors at Knights & Lords, a bespoke tailoring house in Dubai. They are inspired by the alchemy of craftsmanship and bespoke tradition aimed at re-designing the wearer's inner architecture. They have learnt the traditional craft of bespoke tailoring from Savile Row, London - considered to be the spiritual home of bespoke tailors even today. You can visit them at or - or email them at bespoke@knightsandlords.comIf you need a style tip, Pawan and Ashish will be happy to help. Send us your queries to, with the subject line reading 'Style tips'.

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