At Beckett & Robb we take craft very seriously. A garment made to last for many years isn’t done quickly or with inferior materials. We began by seeking out great partners for our production. A tailoring facility that shared our passion for quality and design, and that had a vision for a world-class made-to-measure service, like we do. Our suits are created in Portugal, in a second-generation tailoring facility. The family and the staff, many of whom are the second generation, with some of the younger generation working alongside their parents, have been making suits for over forty years. For much of that time, made-to-measure was a small portion of total production. We partnered at an ideal time, when they were ready to make changes and when our growth was just beginning. For the better part of a decade we’ve been retooling—investing heavily in technology and equipment, first to prioritize made-to-measure over ready to wear, and eventually to be make it the sole focus of production. Today, the combination of tailoring tradition and technology form the basis for our made-to-measure service, providing timeless garments in a timely and consistent manner.
With world-class production in place, next we set out to create a comprehensive collection of the finest cloth and trimmings, which we regularly renew and update. We offer fabrics from top Italian and English mills, where the best cloth is made. Loro Piana, Vitale Barberis Canonico, Holland & Sherry, and Ermenegildo Zegna, to name a few. These are storied mills that have been producing cloth for centuries, and from their extensive ranges, we can find cloth to suit virtually any need. We use Italian horsehair canvasses for interlinings of the body and collar of the suit, and cupro (Bemberg) linings to make up the interior parts of our jackets. Genuine horn, corozo, and mother of pearl buttons adorn the jackets and trousers inside and out.
When an order is taken at one of our shops (see more about our fitting process here) the style consultant enters the measurements and customizations into software that interfaces directly with our pattern making software and cutting machines. A pattern maker reviews the order, and a new, unique pattern is created, which encompasses all the measurements, posture, shoulder slope and body type adjustments specific to that individual. The digital pattern is printed, and it moves together with the cloth the suit is to be made from to the cutting room. Cloth is laid out on the large table and examined by both machine and human eyes to ensure pattern matching across panels, sleeves, seams, and pockets. Then the laser cutter goes to work, following the digital pattern and cutting it out precisely. The resulting panels are gathered up and bundled together with the trimmings, and move on to the production floor to be sewn.
The suit is constructed using a combination of machine and hand work. Machine work is used for seams and in places where it mimics hand work so closely that the results are nearly the same, but the machine saves time. This is the case in areas like the pad stitching of the lapel, which is done by a Strobel machine. Hand work is done on those areas where it continues to advantageous to the finished product. Sleeves are set by hand, for example, because the varied tension created by hand sewing allows the sleeve to hang properly from the shoulder. Hand stitching is also less constricting than machine stitching, which makes for a more comfortable armhole.
The cloth moves from station to station, taking shape as it goes. Sleeves and pockets are created, the canvas chest pieces and lapels are basted to the cloth for the jacket front, the pockets are sewn in, and the collar is attached. Linings are sewn in to the interior of the jacket, and with sleeves attached, the suit is ready for the final stages of production. Buttons are sewn into place and the suit goes into pressing, where heat, steam, and pressure are used to infuse shape into the garment. The trouser is pressed, removing any wrinkles and adding the essential creases down the trouser leg front and back. Pressing of the jacket is done by hand using an iron, not with machines. While some areas of the jacket are shaped by sewing, namely the chest and lapels, pressing turns the otherwise two-dimensional cloth into something with shape and form. Sleeves that were straight before are shaped so they follow the contour of the arm. Overall the jacket now has the appearance of being able to fit around a man’s body, while still maintaining flattering clean lines and shape. Over time the shape of the jacket actually improves, as canvas and cloth, both made from all natural fibers with memory, mold themselves around the individual’s chest.
The final step is a thorough quality check, to ensure small threads are removed, that customizable details were made per the order, and that the measurements are correct. This is our process that takes a piece of cloth and turns it into a beautiful garment. We’ll continue to obsess over the details, fussing over things like the angle made where the collar meets the lapel, shoulder construction, or the subtleties of the shape of the front quarters. We’ll continue to add cloth and trimmings to provide new options for our clients each season. We do it not only because it’s the right thing to do to make a superlative product, but mostly because we love it.