There has been a lot of discussion about sartorial excellence, hand-made versus machine-made, and how to spot the difference. Very often the opinions I hear expressed are misguided at best, or meant to convince that one garment or technique is better than another to justify a sale or a high price. True, hand-tailored garments are generally of higher quality than their machine-made counterparts, but it is not a hard-and-fast rule. I have seen sloppily made garments which were made by hand and far inferior to other well-made machine garments. There are also many operations which are traditionally done by hand, but can now be done by very sophisticated (and expensive) equipment, and often better than the hand-made version. Beyond all this, there are many different schools of tailoring, each claiming to be better than the others- is the soft, Neapolitan Kiton shoulder really better than a more structured Brioni shoulder? It is all a matter of personal preference. I have, in my years in the business, so often heard tailors and cutters claiming that the rules of cutting and tailoring to which they adhere are the strict and definitive rules, from which one should never waver; I, myself, long believed this as well. Then one day, discussing the complexities of fitting a sleeve with a retired GFT technician, he told me this regarding the rules;
There are two rules of tailored clothing;
1. If your method (rule) works, use it.
2. If your rules aren't working, make new rules.
In a craft which prides itself upon tradition, this was heresy. But it really opened my eyes and my work has greatly improved from it.Why am I writing all this?I have just cut myself a jacket. Maybe I'll cut a vest too. I'm going to make it almost entirely by hand. I am inviting anyone who is interested to follow the process with me, and at the same time look at the difference between hand-made and machine-made, and open a discussion of the merits of each. I am not selling anything to anyone, nor am I promoting any particular product so we can be very frank about it. And remember; there are a million ways to cut and sew a suit- this is mine.
Oh, all photos are taken by me, and unless otherwise stated, are of my own work.