Here is the secret (most) producers do not want you to know about a jacket. The secret your jacket holds is not in your pocket, but in the way it is made. This is a story of art, economics and style.
We assume the necessity of a great suit is not something we should convince you of. But what makes a great suit? Talking about great suits is much like talking about art. Canvas and colours define the final product, an artist creates it. However, a suit is meant to be worn and to be looked at. And we all know how difficult it is to feel good and look good at the same time, in the right clothes. But there is a way to have it all.
First of all, we must agree that the jacket is essential to a great suit. And the key to a great jacket is something invisible to the beholders’eye, a technical detail that can give a more lively appearance. It is something you have never thought about.
Fit and fabric are of course, essential. As in sculpture, you may be the greatest artist and the shape may be correct, but if you mold it in plasticine or papier maché, it will look different than a marble sculpture. Also, even if affordable, it will last less, and to paraphrase a famous quote, we are often too poor to buy cheap. But not even choosing what seems to be the best fabric, linings or cut is not enough.
The construction of the jacket, the way it is put together, literally, is essential. When it comes to determining the overall quality of a garment, it plays an incredibly important role. Nowadays, the production of a suit can be done either by fusing or by canvassing – and it’s like the difference between golden metal and real gold. The full-canvassed jackets are the crown jewelry of any wardrobe. Here is why.
The main difference between the two construction methods is the way the inside chest pieces are combined with the outer layer of the jacket and the interior lining.
The canvas is a middle structural layer, hand stitched to the outer fabric rather loosely, so the garment can move with you. A full-canvassed suit jacket is one that is constructed with canvas fabric spanning the entire inside front panels and lapels of the jacket. The result is a suit that drapes much more naturally, conforms to the body and looks much better, especially when one is moving.
The layers of canvassing material (the canvas) are generally made of wool and horsehair hand-stitched to the outer fabric. It is like having a frame on which the shoulders and the chest rest –without it, it all comes apart eventually.
The other technique of constructing a jacket is called fusing: a fusible material is attached to the fabric by a fusing machine, which makes the pieces much like glued together. This makes production cheaper, but the product is less attractive and lasts very little.
Canvassing keeps the proper balance, structure and shape of the suit. As you wear a canvassed suit over time, the canvas itself begins to conform to your body’s shape, thereby becoming a better fit the more you wear it. Mass production skips this stage, as it is expensive and complicated. Even high end retailers offer half canvassed jackets only. It is only the best ateliers that are able to create fully canvassed suits. It is like comparing a sculpture by Michelangelo and a flat figure drawn on the walls of a cave. Which would you rather be?
Short history of the canvassed suit
Looking back at the history of style, we discover that all the best suits were made of canvas. No need to ask the time machine to take us back too long. We may simply look in our grandfather’s wardrobe to uncover handmade jackets that even decades later have kept their shape and apparel intact since the first time they were worn. These are pieces of wardrobe handmade by skilled, passionate tailors, and… fully canvassed. True art.
Unfortunately, the progressive demand of suits and the desire and need to lower the price tags made grandfather’s suit a true rarity. They used to be an exception and therefore prices ranged above 3,000 euros. Cheap alternatives became available due to technological advance. Manufacturers started using fusing as construction method to increase production capacity while keeping costs down – it’s quick and it doesn’t require any skilled labour.
However, art is very different in that the best becomes more and more expensive in time. Lucky for us, things are surprinsingly different in style. As quality has gradually become a serious concern for clients and therefore for many suit makers, especially in Western Europe, they strived to make it more accessible.