There was a time when men wore luxury suits to make themselves stand out. But when luxury ready-to-wear men’s suits themselves have become a mass-produced commodity, how does a style- conscious man express his individuality? The answer, for those who can afford it, is in Made to Measure suits, or MTM or M2M, as it is sometimes known. The Italians, who are global trend leaders in making men’s suits, have a more precise name for it — Su Misura, a term that roughly translates into tailor-made or custom-made. MTM is a tailored suit crafted from a curated selection of fabrics, cut and styled using standard silhouette patterns to match the personal size and shape of the wearer. Of late, it has become among the fastest growing segments in the men’s luxury apparel industry.
Giorgio Armani, the quintessential luxury men’s designer who has pioneered many a fashion trend over the last four decades, including the famous unstructured jacket in the 1980s, was among the earliest to see the potential of MTM, way back in 2006. The fashion legend viewed the service as a way to return to the heart of the creative process at a time when the increasing popularity of luxury ready-to-wear suits was sending the first signals of its commoditisation. “It was a time of big fashion corporations, globalisation and an impersonal approach to design,” Armani says.“ I believe it is important to remember where fashion design started — with the desire to make beautiful clothes for people to wear.”
As for the MTM process itself, this is how the designer describes it in his own words: “I realised that I have clients who do want a unique product, made specifically for them. Hence, I decided to create a Made to Measure service, where a customer gets all the benefits of a tailor-made garment — unique fit, fabric, lining, buttons, details — as well as the signature Giorgio Armani look.”
It is a fashion philosophy that gels nicely with the character of Bollywood superstar Shahid Kapoor, our cover subject for this month. He has always stood out in the film industry for his individuality, not just in the kind of characters he has assayed in the 30-odd films in a career spanning nearly 15 years, but also in the singularity of his fashion choices. We know this because MW has done three previous cover fashion shoots with him over the last decade.
Kapoor is the kind of man who does not shy away from trying out new cuts and construction, hot trends, eclectic accessorising and innovative silhouettes. This attitude has made him a darling with designers, especially those who think out of the box. His personality always stands out from the crowd, and his fashion choices mirror that. And given his exemplary physique and confidence, he can pull off almost anything under the sun.
Most importantly, Kapoor is one of the few men in the film industry who have an astute sense of style and know what looks good on them and what doesn’t. So when the chance came for MW to observe and record the full experience of someone going through the legendary Giorgio Armani Su Misura process, which is now available in India, Kapoor seemed the right guy to approach to give it a try, and he accepted the offer immediately with much enthusiasm.
The six week-long exercise usually starts at the store, but could also be at a place that is of the client’s choosing, where a team of highly trained Armani specialist takes him through the detailed process. In Armani’s words, “To qualify as a Made to Measure garment, there are certain things you need to deliver.” Besides taking his measurements, these include a feel of the various world-class fabrics on offer and the variety of standardised silhouettes including those in single or double-breasted varieties. He also gets to pick his own choice of the jacket lining, various button styles, a selection of lapels, pocket positions, and the pleats on his trousers.
Kapoor expectedly spent a lot of time discussing the minute details, patiently and attentively skimming through his options, and was soon able to make decisions based on his taste. His final selection — a Virgin Wool grey tone-on-tone checks two-button, single-breasted, peak- lapel suit in Bird’s Eye texture with Giorgio Armani signature lining; buttons with engraved Giorgio Armani signature; and flat front trousers.
The suit itself will be made in the Armani atelier in Italy and will be subject to the designer’s famously rigorous attention to the finer details. The lapels and buttonholes will be hand sewn. The lining will enclose a canvas made from a combination of natural materials such as horse and goat hair. Stitched interfacings will ensure that the jacket feels light and fluid.
Kapoor will have to go through two fitting sessions before the suit is delivered to him a few weeks later, with his personalised label. And when he walks a red carpet with the suit, he will join an exclusive group of international superstars who have, over the years, gone through the Giorgio Armani Made to Measure experience, including the likes of Christian Bale, Tom Cruise, Will Smith and George Clooney.