Made to Measure


Reading an interview with Professor Louise Wilson, course director of the prestigious Fashion MA at Central Saint Martins, London in UK Vogue recently, I was struck by two things.

The first, obviously, her predilection for style +Black:

[LW] wears a modest uniform of black, explaining: “I wear black because I’m a large lady, and I have many exact replicas of the same black outfit. I’m normally so dismissive and bitchy about my students’ work, so if I always wear the same thing I kind of dissolve. I’m not putting myself in the firing line.”

So, much like the rest of us, huh? Good to know.

The other relevant point here was that she buys her clothes made to measure.  I’m interested in this because I wonder how many people actually do this?  I mean, Savile Row suits, yes, but how many women actually buy clothes made to measure or even made to order?

I admit that I have thought about it – due to the immense difficulty of finding items I like in my size and in black – and, I guess, Louise Wilson would be in a better position than I to do something about it – the main deterrents for me are finding someone to do it and then the sheer faff of getting my immobile body measured and fitted … not to mention the horror of actually hearing my size measurements in all their horrid glory!  I’m also not enormously patient …

In desperation, I did, a few years back, have some shoes made for me and what a nightmare that was! Excerpt from Stiletto Wheels Archive on it:

DW (my partner): ‘anyone who knows anything about shoes will know instantly that these are beautifully made.’  Me: ‘anyone who knows anything about style will know instantly that these shoes have none’!

My shoe experience did not encourage me to further experimentation in made to measure but perhaps I have been faint-hearted.  Discussing the costs of holding stock, as a retailer, the issue came up as to whether made to order was a viable way to go.  Clearly, this is not the same as made to measure as it is less personally tailored but it does, as a mechanism, have some of the same characteristics, such as being non-returnable, more expensive (than RTW) and with a long(ish) wait from order to delivery.

There must be some point of trade-off between availability, price, special design needs, occasion and custom – by which I mean what we are used to – here.  Most of us might consider made to order/measure for a wedding dress but perhaps not for a tee shirt?  But if the tee shirt cost say £100, as opposed to £20, might we be willing to wait for it? There’s an implicit exclusivity if it’s made to order that means it might be worth the wait and price, perhaps.

My own instincts suggest that the market for waiting, unique design and higher prices is small but I do wonder whether that is so.  Are you someone who would consider, or even prefers, made to order/measure?  I’d love to hear from  you, if so.

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