A Filipino Master Tailor Makes Genuine Bespoke Suits in Manila
The term bespoke means "made for a particular customer or user." In fashion, it refers to individually patterned and crafted clothing—and it doesn't refer to regular tailoring. “When we say 'bespoke,' it means a higher level of custom tailoring,” says Eilene Arienza of suit and barong makers Tiño, the tailor of choice of some of the Philippines’ most elegant and powerful gentlemen. “A lot of shops say they do custom tailoring, because they’ll get your measurements. But in bespoke, the first requirement is that a master tailor should take your measurements himself, so that he could perfectly observe your body type.”
Patterns are made according to your body’s measurements and peculiarities.
Fine fabrics from Italy’s Loro Piana create ultra-luxe suits.
With training from an Italian artisan in Penne, Italy and a stint in the high-end Italian fashion house Brioni, master tailor Napoleon Arienza, Eilene’s father, has 40 years of experience in the suit-making game. He studies each of his clients differently. “There’s a distinct pattern for every individual,” he attests. “Aside from his measurements, there are irregularities with the body that has to be considered.” If, for example you are bowlegged, have sloped shoulders, or possess one arm longer than the other, his expert eye will spot the problem. Then, his skillful hands—he does everything himself, including creating the pattern and cutting the fabric—can address them via the cut and drape of the suit. Napoleon also considers your lifestyle to determine the look of your suit. If you play golf or tennis, he can make something suitable for an active lifestyle.
The master tailor does cutting of fabrics himself.
Every inch of a bespoke suit features 19 to 20 stitches.
Adjustments are done after every fitting to achieve the perfect form.
Two to three fittings are required in true bespoke. The first fitting, which comes a week from taking your measurements (shorter if you for rush orders), involves the skeleton of the suit. A second fitting includes the interlining with the basic stitches still visible. And by the third fitting, there is the finished suit: a masterpiece. Put it on. At this stage, adjustments can still be made if you desire.
One more thing: Your Tiño suit uses a full or horsehair canvas, not a stiffener, in the interlining. This makes a lot of difference. Stiffener is like glue that holds the suit together, and it can result in the expansion of the suit when washed or when stored in the closet. This is why most off-the-rack and other custom-made pieces do not last. Your bespoke Tiño suit, on the other hand, which is “98 percent handcrafted, with 19 to 20 stitches per inch,” will, with care, last a lifetime.
Ground floor, Herco Center, Benavidez Street, Makati City; +63 917 522 90 16, +632 511 12 74, www.tinosuitsandbarongs.com
This story was originally published in the November 2013 issue of Esquire.