What exactly is a made-to-measure suit? Why should anyone bother? Aren’t they ridiculously expensive? Our guest editor Jackie Burger sat down with Jorg Hasenbach, the man behind the South African operations of the made-to-measure suit company, MORE, to chat about these and other burning sartorial issues.
JACKIE: Where did this love for made-to-measure suiting come from? I mean, it’s often seen as a luxury, not a necessity. How did it start for you?
JORG: It’s all quite relative really, what is a necessity for one person could be a luxury for another. For myself, I like to see it in the same light as choosing organic food. The organic carrot may cost you twice as much as simply going to Pick n Pay and buying bulk; the question is, what do you want? It’s about a lifestyle and who you are. What level of quality do you want to live at?
The fit is obviously quite central to the made-to-measure experience. Please tell us more about that.
Basically, no matter what body shape you have, you want to look the best in your body shape, and that’s what we can do with made-to-measure, to mold and shape around your body. It also has to be a balance between looking sexy and feeling comfortable, and I can measure you in so tight that you’re super sexy, but then you won’t be able to move, and that’s not what you want. A tailored suit is like a second skin; it’ll fit like a glove. You can emphasize specific body parts, for example if somebody is bigger or has a belly, I can camouflage that through fit. Like I always say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
How long have you been doing this in South Africa?
Four years now.
Have you seen a change? Have people become more aware?
Yes, I think there are more people willing to spend money to become more individual. I also find that when I consult in Johannesburg there’s a greater willingness to spend on a quality suit, especially more so amongst wealthy black consumers.
Why do you think we are quicker to buy into the idea of buying off the shelf than allowing ourselves the opportunity and perceived luxury, of consulting someone that can make something that is unique for each of us?
A lot of people don’t know about it, it’s a level of education. The question is: what are you satisfied with? What is the level of quality that does it for you? And that goes for everything, including fashion, so you could buy a suit for R5000.00 and be happy and look like the other hundreds of thousands of people wearing the same suit, and it most likely will never fit you quite right, or you can say that’s not good enough for me, and you could go the individual route and have something made just for you, even if you have to save a bit. My entry level jackets start at around five to six thousand rand, and the suits are between ten to eighteen thousand, so that isn’t much more than what you’ll pay at the store, but it’s like no other, and it’ll fit you perfectly.
I often think it’s got a lot to do with how design started in SA, because it’s a more retail driven fashion economy than a design driven fashion economy. Ultimately, it’s not about being arrogant and saying our way is the better way, but it’s about sharing and giving people a choice.
Absolutely, I mean, if someone is some big CEO of some multi-million rand company, and they go into a meeting wearing an ill-fitting suit, I’d be thinking “really? You want to talk about all this money, but look at your own standard, and yet you want to sell something really sophisticated,” many businessmen’s own personal standard is just not in line with what they are trying to sell.
I must say I do love the idea of allowing yourself to have something made. I like to use the analogy of buying a car, where you get to choose certain attributes, you know, the colour, the fabric, this and that. Even the hidden details, it’s almost like having a secret affair with your suit, even when it falls open and your eye catches a bit of detail, you know that you chose that.
Yes, and at More we have over seven hundred Italian fabrics, a 100 different linings, and over 50 different horn buttons, various stitching colours, two button, three button, double-breasted, single-vent, double vent, whatever clients want, and these can all be combined in whatever way you wish. All our suits are also actually handmade, you know, you can see the hand stitching. It’s worth the investment.
I agree Jorg, and like you say, if one is serious about business, then they must be aware that appearance is the first impression they give. Thank you.
Get in touch with Jorg on
+27 82 922 3337
+27 21 462 5129