YYZ-LHR

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
'Bespoke' ruling fails to suit Savile Row

By Megan Murphy, Law Courts Correspondent
Published: June 18 2008 03:00 | Last updated: June 18 2008 03:00

London's Savile Row tailors, long synonymous with the best of British craftsmanship, have lost their centuries-old grip on the word "bespoke'' as a new breed of retailers seeks to bring made-to-measure menswear to the masses.

The Advertising Standards Authority, in its ruling published today, dismisses a complaint that flogging suits not entirely handmade as "bespoke'' is misleading.
On the street where the word is said to have originated and where even the most basic pin-striped ensemble can run to as much as £5,000, it will be a decision that raises even the most genteel of eyebrows.

Savile Row institutions such as Gieves & Hawkes, which sells to the monarchy, and Hardy Amies have been fighting a rearguard action against dipping sartorial standards for years.

The advertising regulator's ruling may further intensify competition at a time when even the City's elite are forsaking high-priced luxuries in the wake of the credit crunch.

Sartoriani, a menswear retailer, was referred to the ASA for offering bespoke suits "uniquely made according to your personal measurements & specification''.

For the bargain price of £495, down from a regular £995, consumers were promised the choice of the finest Italian fabrics as part of a "limited introductory offer''.

Sartoriani, for its part, readily admits that its suits are not entirely handmade. After an initial fitting session in London, where a customer chooses style and specifications, the fabric is sent to Germany to be cut and sewn mostly by machine.

No consumer, the company argues, could possibly be deceived into thinking that they were buying a suit made to the world famous standards of Savile Row for one-tenth of the price.

Within the British menswear industry, the term bespoke has traditionally referred to a fully handmade suit, using a pattern cut from scratch.

According to Savile Row lore, the word dates back to the 17th century, when shops on the street still kept their cloth on the premises and a customer would "speak'' for a particular length of fabric.

Under strict quality guidelines monitored by industry association Savile Row Bespoke, a two-piece suit must be crafted from a choice of at least 2,000 fabrics and requires at least 50 hours of hand-stitching.

However, in its first foray into the realm of what is and what is not bespoke, the ASA says that the historic term of art has moved on.

While customers would still expect a bespoke suit to be tailored to their measurements, the majority would not expect that garment to be entirely handcrafted, the regulator said.

Sartoriani called the decision a victory for individuality and for "affordable luxury''.

"The ruling marks the dawn of the 21st century for the tailoring industry which, for many years, has been overshadowed by the emergence of big brand names,'' the company said.

Lombard, Page 18

Word war
You can have a bespoke kitchen, bespoke wallpaper, a bespoke wedding or a bespoke mortgage, writes Tom Braithwaite . But at the birth of each neologism a Savile Row tailor shudders.

For the traditional craftsmen in Mayfair, the word has a clear meaning: a suit must be cut from cloth to a wearer's personal pattern drawn up after taking dozens of body measurements.

The Oxford English Dictionary was of more help to Sartoriani than Savile Row in the spat over the word, with its definition of a garment "ordered to be made".
Tailors say the word goes back decades to when a customer chose a measure of cloth and it was said to have "been spoken for".

In Savile Row today, individual customers' patterns are still kept on racks. In contrast, made-to-measure alternatives alter standard templates rather than starting from scratch.

The ASA adjudication sided with Sartoriani in its assertion that the tailors' definition was not the same as that generally held by the public. They also said "some tailors and high-end fashion designers described their made-to-measure suits as bespoke".
Careless or complicit in helping to change the definition, those tailors will not be popular with some of their peers.
 

YYZ-LHR

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
One might question the FT's objectivity in giving this small story front-page billing, as Sartoriani has become a significant advertiser in the paper.
 

YYZ-LHR

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
More from the FT's "Lombard" column:

Bespokesmen for tradition

By Andrew Hill

Published: June 18 2008 03:00 | Last updated: June 18 2008 03:00

It stirs the soul of an Englishman to hear that Savile Row's finest are up in well-tailored arms about advertisements by a firm called Sartoriani , which promotes £495 "bespoke suits" from the traditional home of men's couture.

An unnamed complainant asked the Advertising Standards Authority to rule on whether the advert (carried in this newspaper, among others) was misleading, because bespoke suits are made entirely by hand. But the authority, to the distress of traditionalists, has thrown out the claim. It turns out the definition of "bespoke" is increasingly woolly. It can mean simply "made to order" (on which basis this is a bespoke column - down to its last carefully commissioned column-inch - usually written after the consumption of several bespoke cups of coffee).

Founding fathers of "the Row" naturally have an interest in defending their craft - which is why they clubbed together a couple of years ago to form the Savile Row Bespoke Association , promoting a SavileRowBespoke trademark on their suits, and may appeal against the ASA ruling.

Alas, the very act of circling their elegant wagons is an indication they are losing this particular battle. They have, however, won a wider war. What the association calls "the mysterious art of bespoke tailoring" was exported to the rest of the world centuries ago. Deeper-rooted Mayfair tailors should take it as a tribute to their ancestors' skill and marketing savvy that Sartoriani and others have established a well-shod foothold in the area and borrowed some of the sheen traditionally applied to garments made on the Row. They can be confident that Savile Row's high ground is secure. For one thing, their suits retail for at least £3,000. More important, whatever the dictionaries say, when it comes to distinguishing between bespoke and "bespoke", gentlemen still know the difference.
[email protected]

To comment, visit www.ft.com/lombard
 

YYZ-LHR

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
One more, still from the FT:

Wednesday’s victory for Sartoriani is a blot on the 200-year-old tradition of Mayfair tailoring, according to some of the remaining band of Savile Row companies, which prize the word “bespoke” as much as a certain group of French fizzy wine makers value “Champagne”.

For the Advertising Standards Authority, “bespoke” and “made-to-measure” are in effect, synonymous. Not so, argue the agitated group of traditional tailors.

“I don’t accept that the average man on the street doesn’t understand the difference,” said Mark Henderson, chief executive of Gieves & Hawkes and as chairman of the Savile Row Bespoke association has trademarked the name. “You are really looking at the difference between a fine painting and a print.”

A bespoke suit, which uses a paper pattern of the owners’ body rather than a standard template, costs from about £2,800 compared with a starting price of £700 for most made-to-measure suits.

“We make over 25-30 measurements for your jacket or coat alone, about the same for the trousers,” says Darren Tiernan, sales manager at Dege and Skinner, the 152-year-old company that shares the 10 Savile Row address with Sartoriani, but occupies the ground level shop above the basement premises of the newcomer

“What is tending to happen is people are moving here to Savile Row because of the kudos,” said Mr Tiernan. “A lot of the old, traditional tailors haven’t been able to afford to stay here.”

“It’s an issue of semantics really. I think it’s very strange that anyone would believe the word ‘bespoke’ inherently means handmade,” said Charlotte Brewer, marketing director at Sartoriani.

Savile Row has its critics – Giorgio Armani described the street as a “bad English comedy” two years ago and the Italian designer charges more for a made-to-measure suit than the English comedians do for a fully bespoke alternative.

“I think with our advertising, obviously we’re trying to benefit our own business but we’re also trying to draw the public attention [to the trade] ... The wrath of the Savile Row tailors might be unfair,” said Ms Brewer.

Mr Henderson acknowledged that for a regular shaped body a made-to-measure suit would be fine. But Anda Rowland, vice-chairman of Anderson & Sheppard, added that an experienced tailor measuring a bespoke suit would help “if one shoulderblade is slightly lower down ... or if somebody has a hip that juts forward”.

In contrast, a made-to-measure suit, which is not cut from a generic template, does little for an awkward body shape. “They start with something that’s imperfect and alter it backwards,” pointed out Ms Rowland.
 

Rossini

Honors Member
Very interesting YYZ (Sir Humphrey), it sounds like there might well be an appeal. Other than that, it looks like hand-made bespoke will have to be the qualified designation to seek out.
 

Bishop of Briggs

Super Member
It is interesting to see the FT giving one of its advertisers such extensive and supportive coverage. It appears that it is not just magazines who adopt such a practice. Just take a product comparison, note the brands and ratings and compare them to the main advertisers. There is even one leading hifi editor who works as a consultant for the brands that he reviews, often in competition with other brands. His obvious conflict of interest is never mentioned.
 

YYZ-LHR

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
It is interesting to see the FT giving one of its advertisers such extensive and supportive coverage. It appears that it is not just magazines who adopt such a practice. Just take a product comparison, note the brands and ratings and compare them to the main advertisers. There is even one leading hifi editor who works as a consultant for the brands that he reviews, often in competition with other brands. His obvious conflict of interest is never mentioned.
I'm hesitant to accuse the venerable FT of that, given that they report on and carry adverts for most of the largest companies in the world (and plenty of smaller ones, too) and I've never heard them accused of any sort of bias before.

A more sympathetic interpretation might be that they knew about this otherwise obscure company because of the advertising relationship and, when the story came up on an otherwise slow-news day, thought it would make a good interest piece.
 

Frog in Suit

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Since when do advertising folk and Fleet Street hacks (or wherever they are nowadays) know anything about dressing properly?:mad:
Frog in Suit
 

Sator

Honors Member
That's just absolutely appalling really. I hope that the decision is overturned at appeal. It is clearly deceptive advertising practice of the worst kind to call what Sartoriani peddle "bespoke".

I am finding I like this Sartoriani lot less and less. So I thought I would throw in these links for anyone who finds this thread on Googling "Sartoriani":

https://askandyaboutclothes.com/community/showthread.php?t=82881
https://askandyaboutclothes.com/community/showthread.php?t=78484

I take it this is the FT article in question:

http://us.ft.com/ftgateway/superpage.ft?news_id=fto061720081515185430&page=2
 

Frog in Suit

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
I have one question:
What are the status and function of the A.S.A.? Are they the equivalent of a specialized court of law? Are they the advertising industry's "self-regulatory" body?
As to the FT, all newspapers nowadays are suffering and are inclined to publish the kind of "soft news" which they vainly hope will keep their readers faithful. Much better if they would research, investigate and clarify complex questions. But of course, that costs money.
Frog in Suit
 

Bonhamesque

Senior Member
“It’s an issue of semantics really. I think it’s very strange that anyone would believe the word ‘bespoke’ inherently means handmade,” said Charlotte Brewer, marketing director at Sartoriani.

Really?

You really find it that strange?

They make the general public sound like idiots.
Can't believe they said that and actually meant it.
 

Bonhamesque

Senior Member
I have one question:
What are the status and function of the A.S.A.? Are they the equivalent of a specialized court of law? Are they the advertising industry's "self-regulatory" body?
As to the FT, all newspapers nowadays are suffering and are inclined to publish the kind of "soft news" which they vainly hope will keep their readers faithful. Much better if they would research, investigate and clarify complex questions. But of course, that costs money.
Frog in Suit
Totally agree about the research.

The ASA are supposedly there to prevent advertisers from misleading the public by using innapropriate language or images or leading potential customers to believe that their lives will change in some magical way as soon as the product is bought.

This case is exactly the kind of situation where they should've thrown the book at Sartoriani.
It might've prevented other tailors from abusing the word bespoke in the process.
 

KidFury

Starting Member
Yoohoo! I can now afford bespoke!

Seriously though, while I understand the implications of this with regards to advertising. Anyone seriously interested in clothing will know and not use that term for anything else...
 

Infrasonic

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Slightly OT but...I have a friend who has a "bespoke" tile business. Gets them made in Poland and Spain.
When I questioned him on the ins and outs of it all it turns out that what he is really offering is a made to order service, as one can only mix and match catalogue items and their variations of colour, pattern and shape.

I pointed out that it's not really "bespoke" as that would imply that any shape pattern or colour combination could be unique for each customer.
He was not amused...I even used Savile Row as the analogy...:cry:

Perhaps SR need a new word which they can trademark?
 

CPVS

Senior Member
What an utterly ridiculous statement by Sartoriana, as is that of the ASA. A victory for shysters and unscrupulous hucksters everywhere thanks to these weasling twits.
 

Sator

Honors Member
Here is a link to the appalling judgement by the ASA:

http://www.asa.org.uk/asa/adjudications/Public/TF_ADJ_44555.htm

I quote from the judgement:

Assessment
Not upheld
The ASA noted the complainant's point that the advertised suits should be described, at best, as 'made-to-measure'. We also noted the industry traditionally made a distinction between made-to-measure and bespoke. A made-to-measure suit would be cut, usually by machine, from an existing pattern, and adjusted according to the customer's measurements. A bespoke suit would be fully hand-made and the pattern cut from scratch, with an intermediary baste stage which involved a first fitting so that adjustments could be made to a half-made suit.

We noted Sartoriani's argument that they made their suits to order at the customer's request, rather than altering an off-the-peg garment. We also noted they provided definitions of "bespoke" that referred to clothes being made to order or custom made. We understood that there had recently been changes in the industry: some tailors and high-end fashion designers described their made-to-measure suits as bespoke. We also understood that traditional Savile Row tailors had reacted by trade marking the term "Savile Row bespoke" and had set out a strict code of practice for its use, that stipulated, for example, that suits should be made entirely by hand.


That is enough to undermine all public confidence in this body. They are clearly a Mickey Mouse organisation, ridicule towards which has resonated to every corner of the planet. It makes one wonder how much Sartoriani paid them to get that verdict?

Is there any way we could start a multi-forum petition against this imbecilic decision?
 

CPVS

Senior Member
Here is a link to the appalling judgement by the ASA:

http://www.asa.org.uk/asa/adjudications/Public/TF_ADJ_44555.htm

I quote from the judgement:

Assessment
Not upheld
The ASA noted the complainant's point that the advertised suits should be described, at best, as 'made-to-measure'. We also noted the industry traditionally made a distinction between made-to-measure and bespoke. A made-to-measure suit would be cut, usually by machine, from an existing pattern, and adjusted according to the customer's measurements. A bespoke suit would be fully hand-made and the pattern cut from scratch, with an intermediary baste stage which involved a first fitting so that adjustments could be made to a half-made suit.

We noted Sartoriani's argument that they made their suits to order at the customer's request, rather than altering an off-the-peg garment. We also noted they provided definitions of "bespoke" that referred to clothes being made to order or custom made. We understood that there had recently been changes in the industry: some tailors and high-end fashion designers described their made-to-measure suits as bespoke. We also understood that traditional Savile Row tailors had reacted by trade marking the term "Savile Row bespoke" and had set out a strict code of practice for its use, that stipulated, for example, that suits should be made entirely by hand.


That is enough to undermine all public confidence in this body. They are clearly a Mickey Mouse organisation, ridicule towards which has resonated to every corner of the planet. It makes one wonder how much Sartoriani paid them to get that verdict?

Is there any way we could start a multi-forum petition against this imbecilic decision?
Calling ASA imbecilic and willing to take bribes sounds mild and restrained to me. Typical British reserve, I suppose. Over here I think they'd find their a$$es sued to Vladivostock and back.
 

CPVS

Senior Member
I'm hesitant to accuse the venerable FT of that, given that they report on and carry adverts for most of the largest companies in the world (and plenty of smaller ones, too) and I've never heard them accused of any sort of bias before.

A more sympathetic interpretation might be that they knew about this otherwise obscure company because of the advertising relationship and, when the story came up on an otherwise slow-news day, thought it would make a good interest piece.
Shame on the FT, if for no other reason than putting themselves in a compromising and questionable position.
 
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