Bespoke 101: What To Expect…

Mind you, although I have fully embraced the technological advances which we all depend on in being more resourceful and living an easier lifestyles, I still cling to “old school” methods that force a person to slow down and appreciate the process.  Does anyone remember taking a car trip across country with an Atlas?  A foreign concept…fun times.

Commissioning a craftsperson to make apparel or accessories to your specifications is the ultimate form of indulgence.  Understandably, bespoke will be expensive and requires a certain amount of time commitment as you are working with a master artisan trained to build perfection.  This type of artisan will have dedicated thousands of hours of training as an apprentice to perfect a stitch whether by hand or machine, understand textiles and hardware and the ability to design patterns or templates with precise measurements.   

Interestingly, the term bespoke is pitched more casually as industries, outside of men’s tailoring,  have adopted the term as their own in offering  clients “custom” in multiple categories including the medical field, travel, pets, transportation, jewelry, and cuisine.

Obviously, the purest form of treating yourself to a bespoke experience…one in which you as the client are part of the design and manufacturing process.  To wear a fashioned bespoke unit exudes swagger, sophistication and confidence.  

In explaining how the bespoke process works, let us explore these elements when investing in a suit, a pair of leather shoes, and of a course, a leather bag. 


 Historically, bespoke was a term derived from building a custom tailored suit.  This process originated in Europe, particularly on London’s Saville Row, however tailors in countries particularly, France and Italy fashioned their own distinct styles of tailored suits.   Although its origins are European, North American offers a number of exclusive shops using the same techniques with additional contemporary nuanceArriving for your appointment with an atelier (a tailoring shop), the personalized experience begins as you enter the door.  Shop owners and the tailors are impeccably dressed themselves and offer  top of the line service.  Once the client’s preferences in style and materials have been selected, the meticulous process of measuring a man’s (or woman) body is performed.  Unlike buying off the rack, a bespoke suit will be constructed intricately from the numerous measurements and may involve 2 to 3 fittings for adjustments to ensure the fit is precise.  The average amount of time is approximately 3-4 weeks, however high demand tailors can stretch the wait out for months for delivery on a suit.   For neophytes,  a couple of clues in recognizing a bespoke suit is how the suit fits and “pick stitching” done around the lapels and pockets.  A bespoke suit usually averages about $2-4,000.


Ordering a pair of leather bespoke shoes is truly a luxurious privilege.  Most of your designers and manufacturers still make their home in Europe, although there are a several phenomenal shoe crafters here in the states.   Several shoe manufacturers will work with you entirely in the comfort of your office or home with selecting online measurements, design and materials.  An in person visit to a shoe designer, (Italy has quite a corner on the market) will handle your feet measurements and build a mold called a “last” to be kept on file for future orders.  The process of building bespoke shoes from the fittings, ordering materials, drying, assembling and sewing, can take up to six to eight months, with a shorter wait on return clients.   Most bespoke shoes will range on average from $2-5,000 depending on the shoe designer


If a work or travel bag is essential in your wardrobe because of your profession or lifestyle, a custom carry-on or attache, leather or exotic briefcase can make a world of difference to the convenience and flexibility bespoke has to offer; furthermore it completes your total business profile.  Being a necessary purchase, most professionals fork out money every few years to replace a worn bag from constant use.  What an artisan of a handcrafted leather bag guarantees is his craftsmanship will withstand your heavy workload; a beautiful workhorse, if you will..  Unlike a mass produced case, which is more than likely made out of genuine or bonded leather will eventually weaken or unravel. 

Working with a bespoke artisan, once the design is confirmed, the client will choose from a selection of premium durable leathers and hardware.    The leather is cut into the necessary pieces and then the sewing process, called saddle-stitching begins; which is a reinforced method that ensures that even if one thread happens to be cut, the rest of the stitches remain intact.  The design of a bag can be done through a phone consultation, but the preference is to let a client personally experience the selection of leathers for both the interior and exterior of the bag.  The high end designers of bespoke hand stitched bags can take from 2 months up to a year depending on how intricate the piece.  A bespoke travel bag can range from two thousand up to six figures depending on the brand.   -AJ

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Hat Tip to our photographers:


HuengSoon picture of punching holes in leather

EME – tailor’s chalk and measuring tape


Raoul-ortega – making a shoe last 


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