How sustainable is bespoke tailoring?
There are many benefits to Bespoke and Made to Measure tailoring over ready-to-wear items, one of which is sustainability. This term is now frequently used within the fashion industry. Unfortunately, many brands are using the word without actually clarifying what it is they do sustainably. To date there is no legal definition for the term sustainability which allows the fashion industry at large to get away with greenwashing, i.e. claiming to be sustainable when they are not.
So what does sustainable fashion mean? It can be any of the following:
- Lower impact on the environment
- Reduced use of natural resources
- Low energy need
- Low water need
- Low pesticides and insecticides
- Chemical control
- No GMO
- No soil erosion
- Renewable source
- Recycled material
It’s important to note that a lower impact on the environment does not mean there is no impact at all. And there is no minimum threshold that has to be achieved in order for brands to claim that they are being more sustainable. An improvement of less than 1% could lead to claims of sustainability when that is barely making an impact at all.
With this in mind, I would like to explore ways in which bespoke tailoring can be a more sustainable way of buying and wearing clothes compared to ready-to-wear options. However, I cannot and do not claim that it has no impact on our environment or that it is the best way to invest in clothing. After all, the most sustainable clothing out there is the clothing you already own.
Longer life span
A bespoke suit is an investment in quality and also time. A beautifully tailored jacket can last for decades. Many tailored suits are even passed on to the next generation due to the way they are constructed.
Bespoke and couture tailoring leave generous amounts of fabric within the seams of a garment. This additional material allows for adjustments and alterations when our bodies change over time. By comparison, ready-to-wear garments usually only have 1cm seam allowances which do not allow the garment to grow with you. The cheaper materials used will also deteriorate over time and therefore reduce the shelf life of readymade tailoring.
This, along with the quality of the materials used in bespoke clothing, ensures the longevity of each garment far beyond those of fast-fashion brands. The adaptability and durability mean that tailored garments can be worn season after season, year-after-year.
In order to create a bespoke suit it is important to use wool fabric of excellent quality as this allows the cloth to be shaped during the construction process. Cheaper materials will not hold their shape in the same way.
Most of the British mills I work with choose virgin wool from suppliers that are passionate about animal welfare and reducing the impact of their livestock on the environment. The best wool comes from happy animals that are well looked after and free to roam. These natural fibres are 100% biodegradable and breathable.
Looked after properly, a regularly worn bespoke suit only needs to be dry cleaned once or twice a season. My clients are often surprised that more frequent cleaning is not necessary. Conventional dry-cleaning uses harmful chemicals so less frequent use of it is good news. There are now also chemical free alternatives available for this process.
For more affordable made-to-measure suits I now also have recycled fabrics available. My samples of tailoring cloth made from recycled plastic have an incredible handle and feel. It’s hard to believe that are not a natural material.
Clothing that lasts
Creating a bespoke garment is likely to be more sustainable than a ready-to-wear garment because you are involved and invested in its creation. Being a part of the process and having control over key design decisions means that the result is one that you will love and want to wear for many years.
By contrast, ready-to-wear clothing only lasts an average 2-10years with a vast amount of clothing ending up in landfill every day. The environmental impacts of this waste are enormous.
Ready to find out more?
I offer a Couture Tailoring Service, whether you need a one-off item for a special occasion or would like to build a full capsule collection of perfectly fitting pieces. My Couture Tailoring Service encompasses day dresses, perfect-fit trousers, stunning bespoke overcoats, women’s tailored tuxedos, and more.
I also offer a variety of Made to Measure tailored styles in quality materials and a broad range of colours, where you can choose linings, pockets, buttons, and even edge finishes. You will end up with a superior fit, exactly right for your height and size.
Consultations and fittings are available at my Central London showroom or my studio in Isleworth. Try on samples, browse my collection of suiting cloths and discover bespoke tailoring for yourself.
To discuss sustainable tailoring please get in touch here to find out more.