The phone call wasn’t expected. I wasn’t looking at the calendar. I had almost forgotten that 30 days had passed since I went into Massimo Dutti to try their Personal Tailoring service, available exclusively at their Regent Street store.
Situated towards the back of the first floor menswear section, passers-by could be excused for mistaking the Personal Tailoring area as merely decorative, so quiet and lacking in function it is on a weekend afternoon. However, on my return, the consulting area was occupied; perhaps Massimo Dutti, who had insisted back in December that I could only really secure an appointment for a weekday, are now offering the ordering service at the weekends?
After a short wait, I met with the same tailoring assistant who had measured me a month before. Though it was suggested that other assistants could provide the fitting service, I prefer continuity. After being shown into the Personal Tailoring fitting rooms, I awaited the arrival of the suit. As I began to undress, doubt starting flowing back under the slate grey curtains. The suit arrived, complete with Massimo Dutti tags and Inditex’s infamous and irritating assortment of labels. “Oh dear” I thought “this doesn’t feel much like ‘personal tailoring’.” However, fears of this being ‘just an adjusted OTR suit’ were soon crushed.
The trousers, arguably the easiest thing to tailor, fit beautifully. Apart from the elements I had selected (turn-ups, no belt loops, braces buttons, single pleats), the rise is far superior. With the block suit, the rise was low and tight. The seat on these trousers is certainly snug, but they have been made to be worn as I intended; on the waist. A lovely, almost naive, touch was the use of real horn buttons for the braces – matching those for the jacket and waistcoat. Even grand London tailors would be reluctant to apply anything other than cheap plastic to the inner waistband.
The waistcoat was next, and I was already delighted by the length of it, which I had requested to be a few inches shorter. I do not care for the longer cut of modern waistcoats.
However, even with the buckle secured tightly, the fit is rather too loose. There is a good amount of excess material underneath the armholes, which results in the waistcoat rippling unattractively. After consideration, I suggested that 1-2cm be removed. “Certainly” came the response “we make the waistcoats more…generous in size, because we can adjust them more than the jackets.”
The jacket was the item about which I was most apprehensive. Made to measure jackets can often be disappointing, as the process of made-to-measure, unlike bespoke, means the finished product is only an approximation, with varying degrees of success, which is then subjected to post-manufacture alterations.
However, in this instance, the result was rather better than expected. The jacket’s waist isn’t quite as sculpted as expected when worn open and, worn buttoned, it is very nearly there, so the margins for improvement are small. 1.5cm is all that can be taken from under the armholes. However, the rest of the jacket is well proportioned and reassuringly snug, with a satisfying weight.
Cutting to the chase, the big question is, how does it square up to a traditional tailor’s product?
In all honesty, pretty well. Beyond the most fundamental point – the fit (which isn’t perfect) – the easy details on the suit are all there; buttonhole with raised stitching, working cuffs. It is a valiant effort, and, considering the price, excellent value. It feels like a made-to-measure suit and fulfils all of the promises which Massimo Dutti Personal Tailoring makes, which is the most crucial thing.
Those who prefer the quaintness of a traditional tailor will not like the commercial feel of the product. And for those with a bespoke bent, it will disappoint, but they are unlikely to try it anyway. However, for those who are inexperienced in tailoring, yearning to move on from ‘suits that don’t fit’ and who consider £600-800 simply too much for a single suit, this option – at half the price – will certainly delight. It is an extraordinarily quick and efficient service; alterations from the fitting – which are, of course, included in the cost – are completed within one working day, an overall turnaround of one month.
Happiest of all, Massimo Dutti look like they are taking Personal Tailoring further this year, introducing more fabrics and, potentially, offering further options such as peak lapels and double-breasted jackets.