I am a firm fan of tailoring. It has been at least 15 years now since I have bought say, a suit or a formal shirt off the peg. If you have a good tailor, why would you want to wear anything made in a factory along with thousands of identical pieces like it?
Given a choice between a designer and a tailor, I will take the tailor nearly every time. And I am not the only one. When you see Hollywood stars looking so good in their suits, don’t believe all the publicity material about how they bought their clothes at Tom Ford or Brioni and Giorgio Armani. Even if you have a figure like Daniel Craig and can afford to buy a Tom Ford suit, you still won’t look like James Bond if you buy your suits from shops run by these designers. Because the fictional James Bond and the real Daniel Craig do not buy their suits from the Tom Ford shop or a Brioni store. They have them tailored for them. Tom Ford or Brioni will get an old-fashioned tailor to take the star’s measurements and then make the clothes from scratch. The most famous men’s tailors in the world are, of course, the tailors of London’s Savile Row. Nearly every iconic men’s movie outfit you can recall will have been tailored on Savile Row. Remember the suit that Cary Grant wears throughout Alfred Hitchcock’s classic North By Northwest? That was made for him on Savile Row. What about all the clothes that Roger Moore wore as James Bond? They were made for him by Dougie Hayward, his regular tailor.
Even stars who have tried ready-to-wear have found that they need the Row’s cutters to look better in their movies.
Regular Indian tailors still try and go with the bespoke style. All of my formal shirts, my bandis, and many of my suits are made for me by Vaish at Rivoli in Delhi using classic Savile Row techniques. I also like the Canali made-to-measure service which is an extremely well-run operation in India. Sadly, I can’t afford to buy too many Savile Row suits. But I shifted from Gieves and Hawkes to Whitcomb and Shaftesbury, partly because it is Indian-owned and their cutters often fly to India for fittings but mostly because the suits are elegant and comfortable.
None of this is cheap. But the suits last a lifetime and if your weight fluctuates, all of them (Vaish, Canali, Gieves and Hawkes, and Whitcomb and Shaftesbury,) will be happy to adjust the suits. The problem with all this, of course, is that it is now difficult to go back to buying readymade clothes. I have a strange body (shoulders too broad, paunch too big, etc.) and readymade always looks wrong on me. Fortunately, we still have the luxury of tailors like Vaish at Rivoli in India.
All good suits are luxuries. But given that most of us need only one or two good suits, they do not overstrain the wallets of anyone who already wears readymade suits from fancy designer brands. Why pay for an off-the-peg designer suit when, for just a little more, you can get a tailor to make you look like a movie star?