Bespoke - What is it? What does it mean?
Dictionary.com defines "bespoke" as:
British. (pronounced bee-SPOHK)
Bespoke is a form derived from bespeak, which was used as early as 1583 to refer to the ordering of goods.
- (of clothes) made to individual order; custom-made: a bespoke jacket.
- making or selling such clothes: a bespoke tailor.
Bespoke is usually a British English term for tailored clothing (including coats, suits, and dress shirts) made at a customer's request and exactly to the customer's specification. In American English, it is a synonym for the term "custom made". Bespoke clothing is created without the use of pre-existing patterns, differentiating it from "made to measure", which alters, or customizes, a standard-sized pattern to fit the customer.
Defined More Specifically
Some argue, such as the traditional Savile Row tailors represented by the Savile Row Bespoke Association, that the term bespoke additionally implies that the garment is at least substantially handmade, while a ruling by the British Advertising Standards Authority has ruled it's a fair practice to use the term bespoke for products which don't fully utilize such traditional construction methods.
Origin Of Bespoke
The word bespoke itself derives from the verb bespeak, to "speak for something", in the specialized meaning "to give order for it to be made". Today, it's also frequently used in fields that vary widely from technical components specifically developed for a certain application (e.g. bespoke software); to the car industry, when customers get a chance to have an automobile made to their specification.
Savile Row Bespoke
The term "bespoke" is understood to have originated in Savile Row, and the trademark 'Savile Row Bespoke' is defended by the Savile Row Bespoke Association, which represents a group of Savile Row tailors. It has set a standard giving minimum requirements for a garment to be allowed to use the official title 'Savile Row Bespoke'.
These standards particularly stress:
- hand work used almost entirely on all garments, such as a two piece suit, including the "individually cut a paper pattern";
- personal service, such as qualified advice on fabric large selection of fabrics, and retention of all records for future orders;
- and involvement by participating houses in an approved training scheme to ensure a future generation of skilled labour.
The association has also specified twenty-one points, which address specific parts of a suit, each dictating some detail such as the length of inlays, or which seams must be hand stitched, etc.
For more information, see the Wikipedia entry for 'bespoke.'
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