As part of a larger commitment to being transparent about our products, below is a more detailed explanation about our construction standards and techniques.
At Beckett & Robb, we know there are many elements that make up a great suit. Most of the imperative parts are hidden, and are crucial to the performance and longevity of the garment. The particularly vital areas are the chest and shoulders, but there are a number of other areas that contribute to making a tailored garment what it should be: the most flattering, best fitting item in your wardrobe. We take these details, whether large or small, quite seriously. Many makers in the ready-to-wear and custom suit business are intentionally evasive about disclosing their materials and methods because they cut corners, use inexpensive materials, and use heat and glue to stick it all together. Many are deliberately vague and deceptive about the country of origin of cloth and materials, the composition of cloth, and the country of manufacture.
We’ve been all over the world in search of the best tailoring facilities as well as the best cloth and materials. We are proud to offer suits made in Europe of all European cloth and materials. Specifically, we cut and sew in Portugal and Spain, using Italian and English cloth from world-renowned mills, Italian and German interlinings, and Italian trimmings. We use traditional tailoring techniques combined with innovation to create suits that fit, perform, and last. Technology and highly specialized machinery create efficiencies in several areas, including cutting and some sewing operations, which give results that are as good or better than handwork. There are some areas where the skill and handwork of a tailor are still needed to yield the best results, like the setting of sleeves, the felling of the collar, and the felling of the hem of the jacket, so we do these and other operations by hand. While our machined buttonholes are perfect for many, for the client who appreciates the charming imperfections and beauty of a hand sewn buttonhole, we offer these upon request.
We offer three different construction options: half canvas (standard), full canvas (upgrade), and unstructured (upgrade), all made in a 3rd generation tailoring facility in Portugal.
Our full canvas construction uses natural materials, all made in Italy, to create a jacket with supple structure and shape. These materials include wool canvas, haircloth (made with horsehair and cotton), wrapped haircloth, and felt. All materials are preshrunk so no shrinkage takes place on the finished garment. The wool canvas piece covers the front of the jacket, and is made up of a wool warp with a cotton and horsehair weft. The haircloth is covered in soft felt (horsehair is stout and springy, which gives the haircloth structure and promotes shape, but is scratchy against the skin) at the area of the chest. The canvas starts at the top of the shoulder and extends the length of the jacket front to the hem, also extending into the lapel. The lapel is padded (stitched together using hundreds of small stitches in a way that combines several pieces of cloth and holds them in place to maintain a specific shape) to give the lapel “roll”. Roll is the curl of the lapel as it comes away from the chest, and can only be achieved using high quality canvas that has been pad stitched into place. The rolled lapel is both beautiful as well as functional. It helps the lapel hug the chest and not slouch away from it, a sign of a well-made suit jacket. By contrast, a fused or inferiorly made suit has a flat lapel, with no roll. In addition to the lapel, pad stitching is used in the chest to give it shape. Tailoring, after all, is creating a garment that will fit around and flatter the contours of body, not simply hang from it, like flat sewing. Pad stitching is also done on the canvas of the under collar to give good shape and ensure the collar lays properly. Sleeves are set into the sleeve head by hand. Shoulders are composed of the best quality materials to provide structured softness. The finishing touches include genuine horn, corozo, or mother-of-pearl buttons and cupro lining (commonly known by the brand name “Bemberg”), which provides vivid color, silky touch, and the breathability of the cotton from which its derived.
Our half canvas construction uses the same high-quality materials as our full canvas construction. Where a full canvas goes from top to bottom of the jacket front, a half canvas stops around the top button. Like a full canvas, the jacket front construction begins by stitching the cut pieces together (wool canvas, haircloth, wrapped haircloth, and felt). The shell cloth (the main cloth on the outside of the suit) is then basted (stitched) together to the canvas and chest piece. The lapels are pad stitched to give roll to the lapel. The collar is pad stitched as well to provide good shape. Sleeves are sewn into the sleeve head by hand to give added elasticity and precise alignment. As with full canvas construction, structure is given to the shoulder using thin, high quality shoulder pads and minimal cotton wadding to give a clean look to the chest and shoulders that is also soft and supple to the touch. Half canvas construction is the default construction for us at Beckett & Robb. The area that differs from full canvas construction is the area below the top button, which has no haircloth. Many prefer this construction for all-season suits because it’s a bit lighter weight than full canvas yet still provides the benefits of a full canvas garment, namely the stability in the chest, under collar, and lapel. Like full canvas, our half canvas suits come standard with horn, corozo, or mother-of-pearl buttons and cupro linings.
This construction creates a natural silhouette, and is especially soft due to very minimal materials and padding used inside. To the uninitiated the jacket appearsquite normal from the outside. Upon closer inspection, it’s evident that the jacket follows very closely the slope and shape of the wearer’s shoulders and chest. This is due to the fact that there is only a very minimal amount of padding at the shoulder, and this only on the back shoulder; no wadding in the sleevehead, and no wool canvas or haircloth in the interior. The jacket is also completely unlined with the exception of the cupro lining in the sleeves. The interior does have a self cloth facing that attaches at mid-underarm and angles to the bottom of the jacket, adding a bit of structure and a place for interior pockets to be placed. All seams are neatly done and covered with a narrow strip of lining cloth. Because of the exposed nature of the inside of the jacket, it’s a more time consuming process to create an unstructured jacket than half canvas construction. The jacket can be adorned with our standard horn, corozo, or mother-of-pearl button options. This style of tailoring is typical to the Naples region of Italy, and some refer to this type of construction as a Neapolitan shoulder, “Spalla Camicia” (Shirt Shoulder), or natural shoulder. While many will love the comfort of this construction for sport coats (and especially for warmer weather since the jacket is light and open) it can also be used for traditional or business suits.
We welcome questions about our construction standards. Please feel free to contact us with questions, comments, and suggestions.