By Andrew Yamato
Made-to-measure (MTM) is a concept that different clothiers define and execute differently, but it is generally understood to be an intermediate level between custom/bespoke and ready-to-wear in which a standard pattern block is adjusted to a client’s individual measurements. It usually offers fewer opportunities for customization than custom, and tends to be available in fewer (and less expensive) cloths.
What MTM also almost invariably means is Made in Asia, which these days isn’t anything to be ashamed of. Those who belittle Chinese tailoring as a matter of course are probably making the same mistake as those who scoffed at Japanese cars in the 80s; after all, expertise emerges from experience, and in the manufacturing world at least, experience is largely a product of volume. Whatever the continuing artisanal glories of British, Italian, and American tailors, their numbers are dwarfed by the millions of Asian workers who have made the garment industry a major engine of their powerhouse economies.
All of this is not to say that there isn’t considerable variation in the quality of Asian-made clothing. Especially for complex and subtle garments like tailored menswear, it is incumbent on individual clothiers to insist that their Asian factories maintain the design elements and production standards that define their brands. With Alan Flusser Made-to-Measure, we’ve done just that, painstakingly working with our factory partners to develop and perfect a pattern block true to our “updated drape” house style.
Pioneered by Savile Row tailors and popularized by British royalty and Hollywood aristocracy in the 1930s, the “drape cut” combines a flatteringly masculine silhouette with soft, comfortable construction. While we’ve trimmed up the drape’s classical proportions to keep it tuned to the modern eye, the key elements remain: natural shoulders, high armholes, and fullness over the chest and shoulder blades tapering to a shaped waist. The trousers are cut to sit on the natural waist, with a bit of fullness through the leg to form an unbroken line from the waist down and provide the wearer with an elongated leg line.
In addition to having mastered this rare and difficult style, our MTM tailors are eager to expand their expertise, and regularly accept our challenges to incorporate difficult or unusual patterns (e.g. bi-swing half-belted jackets, fishtail trousers) as well as the latest tailoring techniques. So skillfully have they rendered the soft, lightweight construction we’ve always been known for, for instance, that we’re now able to go a step further and offer (on request) a deconstructed “Neapolitan” coat style, defined by unpadded shoulders and artfully pintucked spalla camicia (“shirt sleeve”) sleeve crowns. Just the thing to pull on and forget all about.
The greatest distinction between our MTM service and those of our competitors, of course, is the quality of the sartorial guidance our clients receive about selecting cloth, colors, and proportions for garments that will both complement them and be appropriate for their intended use. This process is no less involved for our MTM clients than for those purchasing custom clothing, and results in the same lasting relationship with the Custom Shop staff. From the moment MTM clients have their first fitting, their garments receive exactly the same treatment as custom orders, with our tailors carefully sculpting away any imprecision of fit before hand-finishing each buttonhole to create a garment truly worthy of the Alan Flusser Custom label we put in all our clothes. Best of all, with suits and sportcoats starting at $2,500 and $1,650 respectively, we’re able to offer MTM at approximately half the cost of full custom.
There will always be men who can afford — and who insist on — having the very best: hand-tailored custom clothes, made here in New York City from the world’s most exquisite cloths. For those who don’t mind just having everyone else assume that’s what they’re wearing, there’s Alan Flusser Made-To-Measure.