Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen,
I’d like to share with you a review on one of my favorite books on menswear and that is (as seen in the title of this post), Bespoke Menswear: Tailoring for Gentlemen by Bernhard Roetzel. I received this book for Christmas after being inspired to seek out more information on bespoke tailoring and to understand certain aspects, and I will say it is a real eye-opener into the world and history of bespoke clothing.
The book starts out by attempting to define what exactly bespoke tailoring is, the author illustrates the reversal in the last century going from a time where almost all clothing was bespoke to today where it is a lot rarer.
From there, Roetzel explores the past of bespoke tailoring, dating all the way back to (fun fact) 1152, when the first tailor’s guild was established in Germany. An overview of what differentiates one country’s particular tailoring style to another’s is then given, focused solely on European nations as let’s face it, they are the birthplace of bespoke luxury.
What I particularly enjoyed about this book was the feature Roetzel illustrates of many well-known ateliers throughout Europe including Sartoria A. Caraceni of Milan, Cifonelli of Paris, Dietl of Munich and Zaremba of Warsaw. It is always nice to see the workspaces and the faces of the people behind these iconic companies.
This book could have just stopped there, but instead, the author takes it up a notch by featuring world-renowned cloth merchant, Scabal and going step by step on how wool goes from sheep to suiting fabric. Somewhere around this nice feature is a handy list of key fabric terms and a nice photo and descriptions of different patterns:
Of course, this book would not make any sense had the author not included the actual steps (with photos) as to how a bespoke garment comes together, from measurements to patternmaking, cutting and stitching, it truly does come together like a piece of fine art! As a bonus feature, Roetzel explains the names and purposes of a tailor’s tools with photos.
Suits are not the only feature in this book, there are separate sections on bespoke shirts and ties with similar features on processes, cloths and ateliers producing them. I will admit that to me the feature on bespoke ties feels unnecessary, I mean I can still admire the art form that goes into making one but are that many people in Europe commissioning bespoke ties these days?
Where’s my memory??? I almost forgot to include a feature that would be useful to many and that is the difference between bespoke and made to measure, which are often confused with one another. (No I won’t tell you here, buy the book and find out! 😉 )
A nice touch at the end of the book features a full glossary of all critical terms in the book as well as the addresses of each featured atelier should you decide to seek one out for your next suit.
So, who would I recommend this book to? Not anyone who doesn’t understand much about menswear, not anyone who you would consider “cheap” who does not understand the true value of these beautiful garments and who only looks at price. I would recommend it to someone who has a knowledge or interest in tailoring and the world of menswear, this book will only stoke the fires of your passion and perhaps inspire you to commission a bespoke garment one day!
You can find the book for sale on Amazon for roughly $30 CAD, get a copy here:
Until next time, keep it dapper!