The fact that a garment is handmade is treated as a sign of superior quality. Is that always the case?

I’ve been thinking about it for quite some time now – having encountered handmade things of varying quality, and comparing them to mostly machine-made ready-to-wear garments.

It is quite obvious you can get poor quality handmade things. Doing things properly by hand takes time and years of experience by the artisan, and this costs money; if you try to cut the costs here, you will most likely end up with something subpar. This is not what gave me pause though.

Have a look at suits by Sartoria Formosa in the No Man Walks Alone online shop. Made by hand in Naples, they’re made of fine fabrics, beautifully cut – and adequately priced. Finished by hand as well – including the buttonholes and the attachment of the lining. And I can’t help but notice the imperfections.

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My Suit Supply jacket is finished more neatly. And it was waaaay cheaper.

I know there’s a lot less handwork in the Suit Supply jacket, if any. Even the canvassed lapels are padded on a machine. But if the effect is just nice, neat and orderly – as well as cheaper – why is the handmade and hand finished garment so much more highly valued?

It comes down to one realization, I think. Counterintuitive as it may be: imperfections are not necessarily bad.

They imbue the garment with an individual character. Sartoria Formosa suits described here are ready-to-wear, but no two are exactly alike. This is also one of the things that are so cool about bespoke clothes: they’re one of a kind. And that’s a bit of a snobbish way to look at it, sure, but still a valid one.

By ordering from a tailor, or buying from a shop which carries those limited supply handmade things, you also know where your money is going. And it’s going to the artisan, who learned their craft and practiced it for years. That’s something that seems to slowly go away in this world, but I think it’s worth preserving.

And finally, there’s the aesthetic aspect. Those imperfections are something of an acquired taste: you may not like them first time you see them. But there’s something authentic about them, something organic, and this may at some point start to tickle this part of your brain that appreciates beauty. Beauty realised not by sterile perfection, but something less palpable. And no less real.

Header photo and photos in the post come from No Man Walks Alone website.

About me

Szymon Jeziorko

My name's Szymon Jeziorko. I wear ties and write about it compulsively. More...

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