When I first heard the word, I thought it meant some kind of talking, as in, “He bespoke of the movie,” or, “I bespoke the truth.”
Needless to say, that’s not what it meant. At least not fully.
After some relentless online digging, I found the real meaning of the word, along with some interesting history.
Did you know?
The word “bespoke” actually means custom-made, in reference to things of any kind, specialized to the buyer’s preference. It is the opposite of ready-made. When applied to fashion, however, the term bespoke is only used for men’s suits and clothing, making it a parallel to the women’s haute couture label of individually cut and designed garments.
Why should I care?
Unlike haute couture, bespoke is not a protected label. This upset a lot of men in fashion, especially tailors, so the Savile Row Bespoke Association was set up in 2004 to protect the integrity of the art of tailoring in London’s West End. In 2006, the Savile Row Bespoke became a label, established for simple identification of suits and garments made specifically on Savile Row (and surrounding streets). So while bespoke is not a protected label, the Savile Row Bespoke Association has made itself a trademarked brand, and is working towards making bespoke clothing protected, so that it can be the male fashion equivalent to women’s haute couture. However, they haven’t been successful in achieving that goal yet, which is probably why not that many people today know what it means, or even that it exists.