Savile Row tailors told what is ‘bespoke’ and what isn’t

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savro.jpgTowards the end of last year, the BBC ran a documentary on the world of haute couture. One of the most interesting things it explored was how fiercely the term ‘haute couture’ is guarded – its definition is protected by French law, so as not to be diluted by ready to wear fashion. I’m sure there are a few shops on Savile Row wishing English fashion history was kept as sacred, after the Advertising Standards Authority yesterday dismissed their claim the term ‘bespoke’ was being misused by a fellow tailor.

Savile Row mainstays brought a complaint against menswear retailer Sartoriani after it used the phrase to describe a range of £495 suits. The Sartoriani suits are cut from an existing pattern with modifications made depending the customer’s requirements – a practice the Savile Row Bespoke Association claim should only be described as ‘made to measure’. The classic definition of bespoke has been around since the 17th century and refers to a suit crafted from a single bolt of cloth, without the use of a pre-existing pattern.

However, the ASA ruled that times have changed and ‘bespoke’ is now synonymous with ‘made to measure’. Sartoriani called the decision a victory for “affordable luxury”. “If people want to save money, they best thing they could do is go to Asda and buy a £90 machine washable suit,” was the Savile Row rebuttal. I wonder if Kanye knows the difference?