Sartoriani Goes for a Bigger Lie

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God, it makes your blood boil. Splashed all over the front of City AM (the free business paper in London), Sartoriani is claiming to be selling “The finest bespoke shirts in the world!”

Where do they get off? Their shirts are not bespoke and I can’t imagine what criteria they have for saying they are the best in the world.

For those who are not familiar with the background to this charade (see previous post), Sartoriani won a case earlier in the year allowing it to use the phrase “bespoke” in its advertising, despite the fact that its suits are made by a machine. That’s right. They are made by a machine, in a factory, on a block altered to a customer’s specifications. That probably sounds like the age-old definition of made-to-measure to you. And it is. Yet they claimed their suits were bespoke because they were “personalised to the customer”.

The association of Savile Row Bespoke, representing tailors on the Row, took Sartoriani to the UK Advertising Standards Authority. It lost. The ASA said it considered bespoke and made-to-measure to be synonymous. It was a loss to menswear everywhere. As I said at the time, “once one company can get away with it, everyone will advertise their made-to-measure service as bespoke, and a refined section of tailoring will lose a crucial communication skill.”

It’s happening now. Sartoriani apparently has bespoke shirts; there’s a picture of someone in “a bespoke suit”; apparently “it’s now easier than ever to make a bespoke suit.” Bespoke, bespoke, bespoke. It’s an assault on the language, eroding the meaning of words in the pursuit of profit.

Who actually thinks that a bespoke suit can be made, “cut and sewn in London”, for £495? And a shirt for £99?

Sartoriani seems to have decided to adopt the old adage “if you’re going to lie, lie big.” Because it has the cheek to lecture people in its advertisement on what bespoke means, maintaining that it is just something that has been altered to a customer’s specifications, “as opposed to off-the-peg or ready-to-wear”.

Not only that, but it proclaims in its headline that is has “the best bespoke shirts in the world,” as mentioned earlier. Does the ASA have anything to say about this? Has Sartoriani commissioned a piece of thorough, independent research that compared its shirts to Charvet and Turnbull & Asser, which concluded that Sartoriani was the finest? Ridiculous.

And the cherry on the cake: Sartoriani advertises itself as “Savile Row – London”. But look carefully. It has an office at 10 Savile Row, and shares some of the basement. Its shop is actually at 24 Old Bond Street, and now 1 Canada Square in Canary Wharf.

It makes your blood boil.


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Simon Crompton is a journalist and a style enthusiast living in London, who blogs at permanentstyle.blogspot.com. He has too many suits.