The Cost of Bespoke & Couture pt. 2

In our previous post, we discussed the labour cost associated with a bespoke, or custom-made, garment. In this post, we will examine the material costs.

As with all things, anything that is made of a natural material of premium quality is going to have a high price tag. Furthermore, those materials are getting more and more expensive, not cheaper. This applies to all products in the marketplace. In the case of clothing, premium materials include European silks particularly from Italy and France, wools from Europe and Australia/New Zealand such as merino, high-end cottons and linens, and fine leathers.

Given the significant investment in labour to make a custom-made garment, it would be foolish for a custom clothier to use cheap quality materials. If you bought cheap ingredients to make a dish for a special dinner party, how could you expect the finished dish to taste good? The same is true for a garment. No amount of labour can make cheap materials look elegant or well-fitted.

In haute couture, it is not just the fabrics that are high end, it is also the embellishments and findings. For example, jewellery quality metal findings add a touch of elegance to a custom bra, whereas plastic or cheap metal findings look low end. Plastic beads look cheap while glass beads add a couture touch. Scratchy nylon laces look and feel cheap, while high-end laces feel supple and seductive.

In the case of custom undergarments, many types of materials are used to make one garment, whether it is a bra or a negligee. A custom bra consists of many pieces, and many different materials must be sewn together with great care and accuracy. The final look and feel of the garment is just as important as its fit.

In summary, if you think that you can look chic on the cheap, you are really deceiving yourself. “Cheap chic” is an oxymoron.

The detail is as important as the essential is. When it is inadequate, it destroys the whole outfit.

Elegance must be the right combination of distinction, naturalness, care and simplicity. Outside this, believe me, there is no elegance. Only pretension.
Christian Dior