The most bittersweet component of any bespoke commission is the seemingly endless wait between fittings.
For many (myself included) once something is commissioned, it’s rarely far from conscious thought, often coming back to the forefront of your mind each day, as you wonder exactly what your concept will turn out like.
Bijan and I sat down several weeks ago to plan and discuss this coat, and since then I’ve been keen to see what the first iteration would turn out like. Fortunately, Bijan was able to start work on the jacket pretty quickly, so we caught up again recently to meet for the first fitting (also known as the basted or forward fitting). I also got to meet Josh Ton, Bijan’s right hand man, who’s a lovely guy and a talented tailor.
Most customers will often want to get straight into making suggestions from the outset of a basted fitting, but many tailors (whether they tell you or not) see the basted fitting as being for themselves, to assess their own craftsmanship, absorb how the item fits and determine which areas requiring adjustment and by how much. So I kept quiet and let Bijan and Josh chat among themselves and move the coat around on me, until they felt ready to ask my thoughts.
Trying the coat on for the first time, I was impressed at just how well Bijan had been able to execute the fit. Fortunately, the photos have managed to capture the quality of the fit fairly well and you’ll see how well it follows the curve of my back, no small feat, given that my lower back has quite a strong curve to it. The important point to note here is that the coat is fitted, as opposed to tight. Being cut specifically to my shape, means it can follow close to the body, without creating any tightness or restriction. It’s a feeling of not even noticing you’re wearing it.
Across the shoulders, the fit was very good, this would prove true for the waist as well. In the end, the only adjustments we would make would be minimal. Between the 3 of us, we decided to raise the collar by 1cm, to ensure that the amount of shirt collar which would be visible, would match the amount of cuff that would show, once the sleeves were complete. For the lapels, we dropped their height fractionally, maintained a 9cm width (a classic width which won’t date, as well as being in proportion with my height and frame), and the gorge will be cut (the point at which the lapel attaches to the collar – in this case where the notch is) with a slight fish mouth shape. Finally, we will bring the overall length of the jacket up by 1cm.
Once those details had been taken care of, Bijan wanted to discuss some more changes to the overall look and feel of the coat. One of the most enjoyable things about any time spent with Bijan is the overwhelming sense of enjoyment and excitement he still takes in the process of creating something new for a customer. Without meaning to sound cliché, you can genuinely feel that energy in the room. It’s also evident in the way he talks to Josh, encouraging him to make his own suggestions on fit, as well as explaining to Josh when he changes something and why. There’s very much a sense of friendship, support and guidance in their dialogue.
Bijan’s suggestions were to use only a single button front and to include a small patch ticket-pocket coming out of the right patch pocket (if I haven’t explained that very well, it will make sense when you see it). I was happy to take his recommendations on both points and those changes will be made for the second fitting. Moving from a more standard 2 button front, to a single button, allows the skirt to be cut away slightly, which will create a more unique look, whilst still remaining classic.
In choosing the lining colour we opted for a vibrant blue, which will complement the colour of the linen nicely.
Before I went down the bespoke path some years ago now, one thing that had always peaked my curiosity was exactly what went into the construction of a coat. The images below show the construction (or, in this case, lack of) that have gone in to this coat. No padding or heavy canvas, just a very light, simple and strategically placed camel and horse hair canvas, supported by a thin piece of felt. Completely hand-stitched in a herringbone pattern, then covered with breathable bemberg lining.
The other thing I hope the images communicate is just how enjoyable the process is. Bespoke still holds a broad perception of being a somber process meant for older men, when nothing could be further from the truth. Any meeting with Bijan and, really, any other tailor I’ve met, has been enjoyable and usually very relaxed. It’s a fantastic process and a shame that more men don’t know it’s out there.
With all that said and done, Josh and Bijan will get to work on making the few adjustments to the coat, make and insert the sleeves and I’ll be back to see them in a few weeks to have the second fitting.