Edward Sexton ‘offshore bespoke’ tailoring

Friday, January 22nd 2021
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I recently started the process of having a suit made with the Edward Sexton offshore service. (Starting at £2500 incl. VAT for a two-piece suit.)

This has been around for a few years, and is similar in many ways to the offshore products being offered by Huntsman, Whitcomb & Shaftesbury, Benson & Clegg and others.

The suit is cut in London by the same people that cut the regular bespoke, but the majority of the making is done elsewhere – in this case, China – in a workshop of people trained by Savile Row tailors.

There are a few differences, though. First, unlike Whitcomb & Shaftesbury, there are no bespoke-style fittings. The suit comes back fully made except for the sleeve length, and alterations are then made in London.

The aim is less to entirely replicate bespoke, just with offshore workers, and more to offer a made to measure product with a better, more experienced level of cutting. This is more similar to Huntsman, Benson and others that use the Chinese workshop.

The other significant difference is that the chest is machine padded, rather than hand padded. (Nearly all other work is the same.)

This was a deliberate move by the Sexton team – the workshop does hand padding, and they could have opted for that. But they decided for the machine option for three reasons: one, it makes the suit a little cheaper; two, the firmer chest is more forgiving in terms of fit, which is helpful given the lack of fittings; and three, it further separates the offshore product from the full bespoke.

In fact, one thing that distinguishes the Sexton offshore service is that it has a very clear aim: to be able to offer the Edward Sexton style to people that couldn’t normally afford bespoke.

So the process is made easier, shorter and cheaper. But it is also deliberately limited: there is a house style with that characteristic Sexton shoulder, in single or double-breasted, but not much variation from them on.

Edward cuts an extreme, pagoda-style shoulder for some bespoke customers. And has been making a very soft shoulder for others for years. But neither of those are possible with the offshore bespoke.

You also can’t fiddle around too much with the pocket placement, or go for a 6x1 double-breasted, where the jacket fastens on the bottom row, despite that being popular among full-bespoke clients.

The idea is to make the product streamlined and efficient as possible - so it can be cheap, but also consistent. So a good fit can be achieved despite the lack of fittings.

Where little variations in the style or process are allowed, they will often involve an additional fee. This is very much the exception, and is dependent on prior discussion with Dominic Sebag-Montefiore (above, centre) and the team, but it’s in the same vein of tying payment very closely to the end product.

“With full bespoke, we can often spend several fittings messing around with fit aspects that the client likes, or design things they want to try. And the price makes that possible,” says Dominic. “The idea with the offshore was to streamline all of that, and as a result make the Sexton cut available to a different audience.”

That said, there are some clients who use both services, just for different suits. Some commission more casual, knockabout suits in corduroy or linen using the offshore service, and use full bespoke for their dressy worsteds.

Others apparently do the opposite, having worsted suits made with offshore, because they are their everyday work suits. And use bespoke for special pieces, like a dinner jacket.

Another difference between this and some other offshore services – such as the Huntsman 100 – is that Sexton uses fitting garments as well as measurements.

So at the first appointment, the customer is measured as normal but also tries on a ready-made piece in their normal size. The focus is on getting the shoulders and balance right in the jacket, so there’s no risk of those being off in the mostly finished suit that comes back.

This seems sensible, and of course some bespoke tailors use a fitting garment as part of their standard process – such as the blue, squared models used by Camps de Luca. Or they take measurements off a client’s existing jacket as well as their body. Most still don’t, but they have the luxury of multiple fittings to get it right.

“The other thing it’s worth saying about offshore,” says Dominic, “is that your second and third suit will certainly fit better – because each is effectively an extra fitting, with your pattern being refined each time. So you do get closer to the full bespoke fit.”

And given that offshore bespoke is almost a third of the price of full bespoke, you will get there by the time you get to the same expenditure. Just with three suits instead of one.

After the initial consultation, suits normally take 6-8 weeks to come back. One further set of changes is then made locally, which takes about another 2 weeks.

I’ve been very impressed by the suits I’ve seen on friend Aleks Cvetkovic, using the offshore service, so I’m excited to see how mine turns out.

That’s Aleks pictured here, in a Caccioppoli wool/silk-blend flannel.

I went for a dark-brown double-breasted linen suit, with the cloth determined by seeing the same on Willy from The Anthology last year. And the style driven by my bespoke flannel suit from Edward, which I love.

So a cloth I’ve seen made up, a style that I’ve experienced myself, and a service that’s driven by a desire for consistency. All bode well for the final result, which should be here in about six weeks.

Full pricing: £2,500 for a two piece suit, £1,900 for a jacket and £650 for trousers (all including VAT).

Photography: Jamie Ferguson @jkf_man

 

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Josh

This. Looks. Awesome. My clothing budget doesn’t come close to true English bespoke prices, and when you consider Sexton‘s iconic but idiosyncratic house style, suffice to say it would have been exactly the kind of irrational splurge that PS would seek to discourage. This option looks much more justifiable for someone of my means; certainly not as a first or second suit (I’m focusing on sports jackets to begin with, but casual suits are in my sights – I have no need for the business kind), but perhaps a third, statement/occasion suit in a more casual fabric as you suggest.

But Simon, what would be your advice in general here? To whom would you recommend this service with consideration of effective and measured wardrobe building?

Also, I know exactly which suit of Willy‘s you mean, and I‘m so excited to see how it turns out here. Great choice.

Josh

Cool, thanks for the tips!

Il Pennacchio

This linen suit of Willy’s, is the fabric from Solbiati Art du Lin?

Sam

Interested to see how this turns out. I saw an article a few years ago from Aleks on an ES Offshore Bespoke that looked just absolutely stonking – link here:

https://therake.com/stories/craft/rake-commends-sexton-appeal/

If I manage to actually have a wedding this year then I’ll probably look to this service for the suit.

The one thing that continues to be a bit weird (and this isn’t just ES) is calling the service “Offshore Bespoke”. Even your own article has quite clearly outlined why it isn’t really “Bespoke” – if the word is to have any meaning at all then surely it has to meet a sort of definition?

They seem to want the allure of “Bespoke” as a marketing term and avoid some of the less glamorous associations with “Made to Order”. Maybe “Offshore Tailoring” would be more accurate?

It’s a small moan, but it seems like the output of the service speaks for itself, so it’s shame to have this fuzziness around the naming.

Sam

As a post script, it’s interesting that ES’ page for Offshore Bespoke starts:

“Offshore Bespoke is not a compromise; it is a comprehensive fusion of traditional bespoke hand-craftsmanship and cutting-edge tailoring technology” – Dominic Sebag-Montefiore”

Then goes through the manufacturing process, and ends:

“the result is a unique tailored garment with all the style and fit of our full-bespoke, and a service which offers the optimal balance between quality and price. We don’t pretend that it’s bespoke, but it is as close as you can get.”

To me at least that would seem like the very definition of a compromise, just a very sensible one for many customers. Treating “compromise” as an inherently dirty word seems silly.

Anyway, not meaning to moan – I hope the end result is good and it gets them some extra business, as I love the house style.

CGJ

Sam I find your comments refreshing and totally agree; I also find the pitching slightly insulting. If we were looking at a £60 product compared to £120 I would understand, but when you’re pitching at a price point where in all reasonable likelihood to be able to afford the product you’ve got to have a good job and by implication a reasonable level of intelligence, then why play games with words?
Say it how it is, stand behind it, explain it, make it the right value for money offering.
I don’t expect to get a Ferrari by buying a BMW.

Jim

Simon, will they be using your existing pattern to produce your “offshore bespoke” suit? If so, one would hope that it comes back fitting very well straightaway. Clearly customers who don’t have the benefit of a pattern developed through commissioning a suit via the main bespoke offering may be more likely to have fit issues and that is perhaps worth noting in your review.

Ottavio

Having just had my first bespoke jacket made (a Cacciopoli doneghan with fastening lapels at Vergallo in Varese, since it’s just half an hour away from my parents and given your reviews), I realize how good we have it in Italy with prices.
Is Seville Row just that much better, or is it just a matter of convenience of not having to take three short escapades in Italy?

Omar Asif

Aleks’s suit pictured here is an interesting choice; a very formal/ business looking cut and style in an informal/ non-business colour. I wonder how he plans to wear this.

Burt

If one knows that a coat maker on Savile Row only gets between 400-600 GBP for sewing a jacket (fittings included) , cutting their share of the labour away & moving it to the People’s Republic of China can hardly mean very big savings. Those savings must be made at some other points then – or perhaps the margin in general is just bigger for the company, thus becoming more of a brand, no?

Burt

Thanks, Simon, I completely forgot that article, it’s interesting indeed 🙂

Robin

“£2,500 for a two piece suit” .
It’s an expensive , all be it, unique MTM.
No doubt it’s Edward Sexton pushing the Edward Sexton brand.

In terms of the business model is it any different then say , for example , Patrick Grant of Norton’s doing stuff for Debenhams ?

And let’s not denigrate “offshore tailoring” . I always feel this sort of thing has the whiff of western superiority.
I ,for one, would readily buy a cheaper offshore tailored suit then an equivalent ‘Mayfair’ tailored suit with its accompanying exaggerated overheads due to business rates and rents.

Kenny

The business model is very different to Patrick Grant “doing stuff” for Debenhams. His Debenham’s “stuff” did not carry the Norton & Sons name. IIRC it was branded as Hammond or something similar.

The main issue is transparency. If the customer is paying thousands of pounds for a “Savile Row” suit, he/she has the right to know if it is made or partly made in other countries. In the past, several Savile Row firms have offshored to European countries, e.g. Italy. Many top brands offshore manufacturing to Portugal, Spain and Eastern European countries.

Your “western superiority” accusation is really a smear. I have not seen anyone denigrate offshore on here. Nobody is forcing you to pay for a Mayfair tailored suit.

Chancellor

I’ve noticed with several Sexton suits that he sometimes cuts a very prominent belly to the lapel which lets the lapels really stand out. You can see that on Alex’s suit here. However, your DB flannel suit and overcoat by Sexton have a much more conservative lapel, and you usually cut the house style.

Does Sexton cut the prominent lapel with this service given that’s what Alex has? Or is that something where there is choice?

Alex

This does feel tailor made for the occasional suit buyer – to my eyes the Sexton house style as demonstrated in the pictures would make the suit’s utility fairly limited outside of weddings, or possibly sitting on the Pitti Wall.

Felix

Agree, it looks very, uh… flamboyant. I guess its for people that want to make very clear they care very much about their clothes (or are cosplaying as 1960s rockstars). Don’t really see the “permanent” style here.

Felix

Yours actually looks very nice, even if maybe also a little dated given the strong proportions, but the one above is just over the top. I actually don’t think it looks fashion-led but rather quite costumey.

I wouldn’t want this to come across as offending (I am aware you are probably friends) and I btw also enjoyed his podcast, but I really don’t think Aleks dresses well, despite probably spending significant money and using famous tailors etc.. In every single picture I can find of him his outfits look extremely studied, resulting in an affected and self-conscious appearance that seems at odds with the ideal of effortlessness I guess most men who care abut dressing aspire to. I feel this is gravitating not just a little into Roger Stone territory, and I am always a little puzzled when you refer to him as a point of reference.

Kenny

Alek’s suit is unusual and is likely to worn on occasions where such a flamboyant would be appropriate. Sexton’s house style, e.g. a DB business suit in a similar cut, would be great for regular wear. Edward always looks fantastic in his own house style. I’m looking forward to visiting his new shop on the Row after lockdown.

My perception also applies to the house style of Chittleborough & Morgan. I consider Simon’s suit from C&M to be one of his his best. IMHO the cut and fit is superior to his Italian suits. I’d therefore like to see more of the work of Michael Browne, especially the finishing.

Graham Morgan

I have used W & S a bit. It’s seems like this new offering will be in a similar price range for an inferior proposition (less fittings, choice of fabrics etc). You would have to be very keen on the Sexton ascetic or be an existing bespoke customer of theirs, for it to be worthwhile.

Kenny

Simon,

I’m a bit puzzled by your comments on Huntsman. The firm’s website says

“Our new service delivers a two-piece suit in only 6 to 8 weeks which is 30% faster than a conventional bespoke service and with a starting price of £3500… Huntsman Bespoke offers a full bespoke baste and is measured, cut, fit, finished, and pressed at 11 Savile Row, guaranteeing the same esteemed quality of service and delivery synonymous with the House.”

Is this cheaper and faster Huntsman Bespoke service made in China? It gives the impression that it is made at 11 Savile Row. However, the description is cleverly worded to allow for the possibility that it is made (sewed etc) elsewhere. A search for China on the website resulted in this result – “No products matches your criteria.”

Some clarification would be greatly appreciated.

Matt

My understanding was that Cad & the Dandy does or at least used to do the same thing, but it’s hard to get much information on it from their website. It would also be interesting to know more about their relationship with the offshore factory, the workers there, etc.

Separately, there are a lot of really interesting topics in this article and the comments, so thank you for opening it up.

Chris Jones

I’ve currently ordered Offshore Bespoke suits number 6 & 7 (of an 8 suit project) from Edward Sexton. I’ve been very impressed (hence the subsequent orders). The first one was the trickiest in as much as it started Offshore but was actually made up Full Bespoke because COVID-19 had just kicked it and China was out of action. It took a while to get the right fitting but once Peter and Dominic nailed it, the others were largely a question of choosing the style (D/B or S/B) and features like number of buttons, pockets, vents, etc.. A few have been ordered via a fabric swatch received and a confirmation e-Mail. They are (surprisingly) very consistent (which is hugely important to me) considering they are all individually made. Because of COVID-19 I haven’t been able to have a “final” fitting on my last few but they are there or thereabouts. I guess I could afford Full Bespoke (especially if I bought fewer) but the fact is, I don’t want to, as the Offshore Bespoke option gives me everything I need. Now my pattern is fixed, they are happy to offer the longer lapel line 4/1 (or 6/1 if you add more buttons) and this is one of my 2 suits currently on order (in a dark Blue Fresco Lite by HFW). There have been a few little niggles but nothing to fall out over. As for trousers, I simply pick one of their House Styles (mainly Drape) and have them make it up as a special order in the same fabric. When I have been to the studio, Edward himself casts his expert eye over the fit and suggests a couple of tweaks – which is always a nice touch. I don’t live near London so is a little more awkward to “pop in” but no worse than if I went to Savile Row itself. My last suit will be a Dinner Suit which I’ll order as soon as my latest ones arrive. Hopefully soon I may have somewhere to wear them !!!

Shawn Ailawadhi

Hi Chris,
Isn’t your case different as your first order was made full bespoke even though order was for offshore?
I am going to order one offshore bespoke anyway but would love to hear your opinion and what can and cannot be altered.
Thanks, Shawn

Chris Jones

Hi Shawn
It ended up Full Bespoke but I never paid full bespoke (result !!!). At that time China was in full shutdown so nothing was getting in or leaving. I guess the guys at Edward Sexton had to decide how to fulfil existing orders. I had a couple of fittings but only after it was largely complete – so I didn’t get the Full Bespoke experience but it was made in-house by Peter and it features the Edward Sexton Bespoke label. Dominic kept telling me how lucky I was, but I guess that them going the extra mile for me resulted in suit orders 2, 3 ,4, 5 and now 6 & 7 and eventually 8. It was a win-win. It’s not a situation that is likely to be replicated. The subsequent suits have been more consistent in fitting once my pattern was fixed. It will be interesting to read what Simon says about his “one-off” Offshore Bespoke. It will probably be a better reflection of what you could expect than my, somewhat unique, experience.

Rich H

Simon,

Are these tailors that offer “Offshore Bespoke” employing more cutters, or is the increase in tailors offering services like this due to a drop in demand for their “Conventional Bespoke”?

Jason

My principle aim is to have nice clothes and to support, wherever possible, my fellow citizens in the free world.
With that in mind, it’s not surprising that having something knocked out in China wouldn’t work for me.
That apart, I’ve always thought there is something interesting about the Sexton and C&M house styles. In their purest form, I find them way too full on.
Softened they have potential but, country of manufacturer aside, if this process doesn’t allow for adjustments. It certainly wouldn’t be for me.

Fred

I used this service about three years ago w great results. I knew the fabric I wanted (12 oz blue flannel—don’t recall maker) and Dominic had me try on a few RTW coats for sizing. A second visit for further sizing (Mr. Sexton popped in to say hello) and the DB suit arrived as expected. I love wearing it (not enough these days) and a Sexton suit feels quite powerful on, perhaps even sexy. It’s definitely a strong look. Good value, methinks, and no surprises. Jacket fits better than pants (which are a bit boxy for my thin legs), though my waist does fluctuate. In sum, I strongly recommend if you want this look; the suit looks and feels awesome, to use the technical term. Dominic is a nice chap as well.

Fread

Dear Simon,
Quite a contrast from Bruce Boyer’s A&S 40 year old jacket you wrote about a couple of days ago.
Using your crystal (springs) ball in 2061 which style would be the you would, wear Bruce’s A&S jacket or Edward Sexton suit?

Anonymous

There are a lot of tailors in London who offer a fantastic service for the same price
Where it’s made in London with all the fittings you need 🙂 given that we are in a pandemic do you think that you could have a look for other companies and promote people who have it mostly made in the U.K.?

Charlie

Simon, do you have any concerns that these offshore programs pose a risk to the sustainability of the tailoring craft in the UK? Hard to escape the fact that these arrangements mean less opportunity for apprenticeships etc in London.

Alec

It would be interesting to hear more of your thoughts on the challenges and short comings of the current tailoring industry and changes needed. I am concerned that covid and recession may have hastened a cylical downturn in tailored menswear. The next few years could continue to be tough for the industry. That being said, it could be a difficult topic for you to write about. There are different challenges in different countries.

Mattias

Simon, it would be interesting to read your general thoughts on Chinese production. Should we avoid buying clothes from China? What’s the downsides? Is it any good?

All the best.

Malcolm

I really would recommend it, but then I love the Edward Sexton style.

I had one single breasted 3 piece suit and one greatcoat made bespoke and, during that process, ordered one single breasted 3 piece suit and one double breasted 2 piece in the offshore bespoke.

I suppose the bespoke process helped the final fit of the offshore bespoke as we did not proceed till late in the process. The price point is higher of course, but it’s much better than the other MTM experience I had at Gieves and Hawkes.

Stephen Dolman

Hi Simon,
Regarding the the comment from Fred.
I still have 2 suits from Edward, a 2 piece lounge suit and a 3 piece dinner suit made in 1982 & 1983 respectively which have aged
beautifully, indeed I took great pleasure in
wearing the lounge suit for my 70th birthday dinner & delighted when one of my guests commented on it.
I picked up a suit from Edward about 2 years ago for my youngest daughter’s wedding & can’t tell you how much it was admired. My latest one, a beautiful light grey flannel s/b I collected just before the first lockdown & can’t wait to wear it.
As I approach 75 my love for clothes has not diminished. If anything it has got stronger. To my mind, to wear a beautiful suit is one of life’s great pleasures as is the whole process , selecting the cloth, fittings and the anticipation of collecting it, and Edward & Peter couldn’t have been more helpful
Kindest Regards
Stephen

Anonymous

A lovely statement.

Simon, do you and others think the value of bespoke tailoring is best for occasional pieces, such as a wedding or dinner suit, or for the hard-wearing wardrobe workhorse suits worn to the office every week or two?

Thank you.

Stephen (a different one)

Hear, hear to that.

Robert

Hey Simon-
This is quite a showstopper. I have become quite a PS junkie. Looking forward to your ES db brown linen commission.

SC

I wouldn’t mind trying an offshore bespoke. It would be interesting to read your take on the final fit and how much % you feel it approaches to full bespoke option, given that you have the DB for comparison. Is the paper pattern full rock of eye…i was under the impression it was still modified from block patterns to minimize need for adjustments given no baste. I would think Huntsman 100 may fit better in the final product as they reverse the single fitting process to a baste where more major adjustments can be made if necessary. Where are the pics of yourself being measured and trying on the fitting garments to give a feel of offshore bespoke process?

Michael

Is a slightly longer jacket part of the Edward Sexton house style? Why would one choose for a longer length? I always thought it makes you look shorter. So I guess it would be purely for a more dramatic effect?

Chancellor

I think you’ve inadvertently just linked back to this article.

MFB

Simon, does Sexton also offer overcoats through the offshore service?

Sincerely,
Mads

Chris Jones

I’m happy to be corrected but I’m not sure they do. You can have any of their 3 RTW ones made up to your size if you are an existing BESPOKE customer but, even though I asked the question, I’m still not sure whether an Offshore Bespoke customer is the same as a Bespoke one. When I asked, they said a Bespoke overcoat starts at around £7K and implied that this is what I’d have to order. I’d be tempted if the first option was on offer but don’t think I can justify the expense of the second option.

Michael Ryan

The vest cut is spectacular.

Stephen

Hi Simon,
Apologies for coming to this post a little late.
My observation here (not a criticism), is the difference between off-shoring bespoke is in principle hardly different to the much criticised cheaper manufacturing of products sold in retail chain stores and online . It appears just a matter of degree.
Both are cheaper (therefore possibly more disposable), increase sales for the brand and offer the opportunity for more people to purchase products similar to those normally outside their price range. Utilising a manufacturing base where factory and labour costs are cheaper.
My point is that neither is necessarily wrong, however I don’t feel it’s equitable to regard them differently.
As I said at the outset this is not as criticism, simply an observation.