Video: How a bespoke suit can be repaired
How a suit lasts - and can be repaired over time - doesn't get much focus in bespoke.
The craft, the history, the style: they're all talked about more, and understandably so. They're a good deal sexier.
But it's a shame, because a benefit of the way a bespoke suit is made is that it can be repaired easily. And because the tailor has been around for a long time, chances are you'll be able to have it repaired at the same place that made it - rather than some corner alterations shop.
Repairs also deserve focus in this age of sustainability. A suit looked after and repaired does not have to be replaced, meaning fewer resources used.
In this film, I talked to Richard Anderson about the alterations he gets into his shop, from simple buttonhole repairs to a customer that needs new elbows on his jackets every year.
You can see more videos in this practical series here:
- How to wash and look after knitwear
- How to look after tailoring
- How polish shoes part 1 and part 2
- How to look after suede jackets
- How to look after good shoes
Very nice video.
Would you mind sharing a bit more about that last repair on pants, the fork if I got this correctly. I have huge issue with this (even if the only sport I did while wearing a piece was walking to the office), be it tailoring or even jeans (my levi’s rarely last more than a year without damage in this area starting to occur).
That patch is already a nice trick as to how to repair, however I was a bit surprised to see that patch on the outside, not the inside (or did I catch this wrong?), would you repair a good pair of jeans the same way? As well, do you have trick that could either delay, or even prevent, this from happening, such as wearing a specific kind of undergarment?
If the trouser was just wearing thin, rather than actually having a large hole in it, then you might patch it on the inside. But generally you patch on the outside because you don’t want to be able to see the cloth ripped or ragged.
I’ve had this done on trousers before, and it does work pretty well. It’s one of the few places you can do it in not the exact same cloth as well.
I’ve also had jeans patched in this way, but that’s normally done on the inside. Usually because you don’t mind showing wear on the outside of jeans – indeed, that’s one of the attractions. But patching on the inside stops the hole or wear patch getting any bigger.
So the thinning out of the fabric happens because of the fabric rubbing against the skin? I had the idea that it was because of the two pieces of fabric rubbing against each other.
Hey Dario. Could you remind me which point in the video you’re referring to? Thank you
Sorry, I was referring to the trousers at the end of the video, and also your comment above about how patching from the inside stops the hole from getting bigger.
I see, thanks Dario.
No, it is cloth rubbing against itself that usually causes it to wear through.
My comment above at the end is in regards to jeans. I’m saying that you can patch on the inside there, because you don’t mind that the hole is obvious on the outside. But you still want a patch, because otherwise the hole would get bigger and bigger. I hope that makes sense.
I have a similar issue with most of my trousers, be it linen, wool, cotton or denim. On my bespoke trousers, my tailor stiches small pieces of lining material (viscose I believe) on the inside of the trousers in this area to prevent friction of the material, which I think is the main problem. It’s practically invisible from the outside and works well, slowing the process of wearing out material considerably.
Fantastic stuff! Can’t imagine though how someone would wear through the elbows and need them repaired annually. Crawling around commando style?
Is that the Ciardi cotton suit which you are wearing in that video?
Yes it’s the Ciardi
Simon- is this your Ciardi cotton suit? It looked a touch shiny in the Style Series photos but the olive color really looks fantastic in natural light. What a chic alternative to more khaki/tan cotton suiting.
Thanks Justin. Yes it is nice – olive would still arguably be more useful, but it does look nice in the light
Lovely necktie Simon. Is it from Drake’s?
It’s actually an old wool one from Church’s. About nine years old. Sorry that’s not very helpful, but let me know if you find another burnt-orange wool tie
Like the cool nonchalant walk in slow motion.
What a style icon you are Simon! I wish I had your class!!
Would you please discuss the repair options for moth holes in a bit more detail.
The options for moth holes are basically either invisible mending (a complete option, but expensive), patching on the outside (so you see the patch, which some might like, particularly on more casual materials, but others may not), or patching on the inside (so the hole is still visible, but less noticeable because the inside of the hole is dark).
We covered all three in the video – so do let me know if you have any follow-up questions on any of them.
Thanks Simon! I saw the video, but wanted to make sure I understood the options correctly. So the invisible mend is really the the only way to completely eliminate a moth hole and obviously is expensive, but worth it if you like the suit or sport coat. Do you think the interior patch method works reasonably well or is it noticeable?
It depends on where it is on the jacket, and the colour of the cloth. If it’s hidden away slightly (eg under an arm) and the material is dark, it might be fine. Otherwise, yes invisible mending is the best approach. It’s not a large amount compared to the cost of the suit I guess.
Good video though it would have benefited from a title card or graphics at the head (beginning). For the viewer the use of more close-ups would be beneficial as varying repairs are discussed but without the necessary visual detail to support the points being made (cut into the the narrative of the picture sequence but with dialogue remaining uninterrupted). A few are featured but the camera angle really needs to be overhead to be of proper use.
Separately, following the narrative, I wondered why bespoke tailors do not suggest buying extra lengths of cloth (it being the cheapest element of the process behind construction) for repairs, or indeed, the later construction of a second pair of trousers. If the suit costs £4K+ then an extra yard (for repairs alone) of cloth would be a worthwhile investment for the future.
Thanks. We have tried to cut down the intros a little as people say they want to get into the meat of it as quickly as possible, but I can see how it could do with something. And noted too on more close-ups.
That’s a really good point on buying an extra bit of cloth too.
Great video–very informative! With this new knowledge about patching, I am curious whether one should ask the tailor (from the beginning of the order) to refrain from discarding any leftover cloth/fabric and instead hand over some of that leftover cloth to the client. (This “new” practice would be in the tradition of extra buttons that often accompany a new order.)
The idea here is to guarantee that any hole/tear development can be patched up with the original material provided by the client.
What are your thoughts on this?
I think keeping cloth like that is a really good idea – noted by another reader above as well. At the very least, it would be easy for customers to ask for this going forward…
Buttons are often easy to source again in the future. Cloth not so much.
A+S keep cloth offcuts for this very reason
On the question of wear at the fork, and please don’t be offended, I found that losing weight reduced the fatness in my legs which caused the inside legs of my trousers to rub against each other. Future wear eliminated.
Invisible mending (reweave) has a limit to the size normally around 1.5/2 inch in diameter.
British invisible mending based on Marylebone High Street can advise further.
The moth will not find Dry Cleaned clothes attractive for nesting, the slightest hint of oil, food & drink is a magnet for these scavengers and can result in the annihilation of a huge investment of the second skin. Horse chestnut (conkers) are a perfect natural free deterrent which can be used in keeping then away from your clothes.
Really? Thanks Norman, I never heard that one. You’d think conkers wouldn’t have much of a smell
Yes the Horse chestnut gives of a pheromone which the moths hate.
All the great houses and estates in the land including the royal ones have used this deterrent.
Let’s be careful about giving out factually incorrect information on this site. You’re talking about the horse-chestnut leaf miner, which is an animal, a moth. Only animals produce pheromones. Plants, like the horse chestnut, to not produce pheromones.
There is a product on the market called the horse chesnut leaf miner trap. It uses a pheromone to attract the moth, which is then trapped. Here’s one example: https://www.dragonfli.co.uk/products/horse-chestnut-leafminer-pheromone-trap
It’s the tannin in the chestnuts which acts as a repellent. Ships’ hulls were made of oak for this reason (among a thousand other reasons): the tannin in the oak would repel naval shipworm. Cedar wood is also high in tannin. Hence cedar-wood blocks etc.
Over to you.
This was a fascinating video and extremely informative. Mr. Anderson’s suit was very nice as well. The shoulder looked fantastic, more natural than structured.
Yes, Richard’s cut is quite sharp but he uses less padding than some of the other Row tailors.
Yeah, Richard said he is using less padding than previously but I find it still is significant. My suit by Richard from 2 y ago still feels a bit armor like…the shoulders are natural but still really chiselled. Did he mention what the weight and fabric of his suit was?
No, sorry SC
The armor look is the most unfortunate aspect of most row tailors in my view. I’m sure they have a good reason for it, and the clients must like it, but it’s not a style I care for quite frankly. Of course A&S is a notable exception and fortunately we have Italian tailoring.
Yes we have A+S, but we also have Steed, thank goodness.
I’m not familiar with this tailor. Is the garment construction along the lines of A&S or the Neapolitan Italian tailors? I
Steed is like A&S…Edwin Deboise was a cutter at A&S as was Thomas Mahon. They left to start Steed, then Mahon left Steed to start English Cut, where he recently left last year after problems with his investors. Steven Hitchcock also does soft tailoring like A&S, having trained by his Dad at A&S…
Thank you. Do you have a preference between Steed or Stephen Hitchcock?
Unfortunately, can’t help you there between Hitchcock/Steed…only Savile Row bespoke suit I got is made by Richard Anderson. Simon may be better to comment as he has Steven Hitchcock and A&S suits but don’t recall anything made by Steed from what I’ve read…
I always suffer from wear and tear in the fork/crotch area. Good to know I can get it fixed!
Do you know if they do repairs for suits/jackets made elsewhere?
The black humour that surrounds this subject in the workroom doesn’t represent the same perspective.