Bespoke Tailors on their Modern Mission: translating a Bespoke Service into a Brand
Since the advent of ready-to-wear clothing it seemed that the craft of bespoke suiting wouldn’t make it to the 21st century. But that couldn’t be further from reality—an increasing interest in handcrafted goods, quality and individuality amongst a new generation of men has given bespoke a come-back.
Emphasis on individuality and lifestyle has seen the birth of new houses and the revival of old ones, the latter concentrated in European cities. There’s more variety in suits seen on the streets and social media, as sartorial tradition makes way for playfulness and styles that accentuate the personalities of wearers.
The role of the suit has evolved from its traditional military form into an expression of style and the individuality of its wearer. At the start of the twenty-tens the likes of French houses Cifonelli and Smalto, starred in a recent renaissance of bespoke tailoring in Paris—anchoring the city as a destination that’s desirable not just for couture, but the go-to for a new breed of men’s tailoring that caters to a modern audience while being firmly grounded in time-honoured skill and craft. A new generation of bespoke tailors are setting up houses again, in a world that’s much changed from pre-dot-com days.
The bespoke suit used to be a mark of distinction reserved for those who could afford it, and were made according to fashionable styles of the time. Nowadays tailors do well by marketing themselves on the timeless appeal of their suits, differentiating themselves from the fast paced ready-to-wear market that champions off-the-peg suits.
Men’s tailoring has become more accessible, with an increased number of high-street brands and department stores such as Reiss and M&S offering personalised services. In this new context, independent houses have to compete with a plethora of brands high-street or not, who offer tailoring and demi-mesure services at different levels. Yet whether it’s a newfound aspiration for quality and service, or bespoke tailors’ ability to create something factories can’t, bespoke houses clearly posses an allure.
In order to keep a heritage trade alive and connect with a modern audience, houses old and new must embark on a mission to translate a bespoke service into a brand. But that’s harder than it sounds. Even established houses with over a century of history and heritage have to be willing to commit to a modern audience who demand authenticity. With so much choice, sartorial audiences look to brands who they can trust. Creating a bespoke brand that doesn’t compromise on authenticity, but is willing to adapt to the modern customer is key.
A brand image that can capture both old and new is a valuable asset—the old being either the legacy and heritage of the house or of the craft, and new being appeal to a generation of style conscious men. Suits have increasingly become a way for men to bridge the gap between formal and informal clothing—a sartorial playground with experimentation and individuality at its core.
Social media Influencers may have replaced print magazines as forms of endorsement according to brands, but an omnichannel approach with numerous touch points will sit better in line with the contemporary brand experience, which flows seamlessly between online and offline. Stories unique to each house are a source of allure and fascination amongst a generation of men who haven’t always had access to bespoke suits—and those stories should be told across all brand platforms.
The people behind any business or brand is always consequential, but for houses that offer a purely bespoke service it’s invaluable. Keeping people and service at the core of a tailoring brand is needless to say, vital in a landscape where quality service isn’t always easy to come by. The mission of translating a bespoke service into a brand can be achieved, if thought is paid to how an authentic experience can manifest itself as a multi-touchpoint presence that connects with the modern sartorial audience.