Brioni bespoke jacket and trousers: Review – Permanent Style

 

This Brioni jacket was made for me under their bespoke programme, using the London store on Bruton Street. We also made a pair of cotton trousers, which I cover lower down, and a shirt.

In our previous article, I made the case for Brioni as a bespoke option for those that like the experience of a luxury brand, and the easier access of having a network of stores.

With bespoke starting at £5,360 (inc. VAT) Brioni is around the same price as the biggest-name tailors, whether in London, Paris or Milan. The quality of the make was also, from what I could see, very good.

The only missing piece of the puzzle was fit.

Fortunately, this has also turned out well. There are a couple of small areas that could be improved on the jacket, but overall the fit is at least average among the top bespoke houses, and you’d hope would be improved over time in the same way.

I wasn’t that confident at the start, though, for two reasons.

First, the system of taking measurements and aspects of the body shape was quite programmatic, working from amending house blocks. Often this is a warning sign that what you’re going to get is closer to made-to-measure than bespoke.

However, it’s only a rule of thumb, because what really matters is how much, how often and how finely the tailor is willing to alter those pre-existing ideas of fit.

Having an individual paper pattern, drawn from scratch, suggests there will be more of this. But there’s no reason you can’t do that from a block as well.

The second thing that worried me was that under this Brioni system, the first fitting would be in a spare piece of material, and largely in a Brioni-style jacket – not the style I would necessarily want in the end.

This can be useful for the tailor to get the ideas of balance and proportion right, before moving onto style. But it does mean the customer has fewer opportunities to see their desired style and perfect it.

At the first fitting, many of the fundamentals were good, such as the front-back balance and my sloping shoulders.

But we did make large changes to the style, lowering the buttoning point almost two inches (to 18.5 inches from the shoulder seam), adding an inch in length, and widening the shoulders, as well as making the waist and back larger.

At the second fitting (there were four in total) Brioni’s approach seemed to work, with the jacket now in its correct cloth, fitting well and in a style I preferred. Tailors might well question this step-by-step system, but if it works for Brioni to coordinate between the store and the Italian workshop, the only thing lost is one extra look at the style.

The cloth I picked for the jacket, by the way, was a wool/silk/linen in a pale beige. It was intended as a replacement for this jacket which, despite Elia’s best attempts, I have simply outgrown. (There’s a whole separate article there, on the longevity of tailoring and changing body shapes.)

Brioni do have a lot of cloths to select from, but they tend towards the more silky and luxurious, the Super 180 wools and the superfine cottons. So a lot of them I wouldn’t go for.

I still found something I loved, but a service like MTM at Ralph Lauren Purple Label would have more cloths that would appeal to me, as well as perhaps a greater range overall – both luxurious worsteds and hairy tweeds (and nearly all proprietary).

The trouser material was a silky-feeling cotton, in a lovely cream. And the shirt they made by default was also in a luxurious twill. But both were superfine cottons, which feel lovely but do crease quickly.

It’s also fair to say that Brioni charge a greater uplift for luxurious fabrics than most tailoring houses. Although there is a good range available at that starting price of £5,360, the cloth I picked meant the jacket would have cost £4860 and the trousers £1640 – a total of £6500.

The trousers fit very well from the start. In my notes on the first fitting it says: “Trousers good – nice fit, nice balance, overall impressed. Widened leg slightly, took in waist a touch, but that’s all.”

These corrections were made precisely at the second fitting, and from then on there was just some umming and erring over length.

The jacket was a little trickier to fit, because the first fitting had been so much tighter than I would normally want. But by the third fitting, there were only minor things to correct, like a little wrinkling on the front from the way my shoulders are rounded forward.

The final result, as is shown in the images below, was solid. Perfectly balanced on the front and under the arms; following the contours of my back nicely from nape to seat; sleeve pitched cleanly despite being a relatively slim cut.

All this was more impressive given it’s such a lightweight cloth, and unlined.

I wouldn’t normally have a summer jacket completely unlined, but it’s the style Brioni usually do, and it gave them an opportunity to show off their internal finishing.

That combination of being unlined and using a lightweight material meant that the back was not as clean as a heavier, lined jacket would be. But still, I think there was a small issue with the slope of the shoulders on the back of the jacket.

This is never perfectly clean, as otherwise you wouldn’t be able to move, but it looks to me as if the back could do with being picked up on either side, to make it less messy behind the armhole.

There is also, perhaps, a little wrinkling still on the front of my shoulders where they round forward. This is very slight, and I think actually exaggerated a touch by the shadows of the photography, but it’s something else that could be improved in any subsequent commissions.

Overall, though, I should emphasise that this is a solid bespoke fit – better than pretty much any MTM I’ve had, and better than a good number of bespoke tailors too.

The finishing on the jacket was also superb – better than most Italian tailors. Only the top-end names like Ferdinando Caraceni are comparable.

The pick stitches around the edges are exactly what such details should be: clearly handmade, but small enough that most people wouldn’t notice them.

The binding on the inside seams is delicate and precise. The buttonholes are finely done, and it’s always a nice touch when the top buttonhole is sewn twice – on the inside and the outside (see below).

This is done because, unlike the other buttonholes, the top one might be seen on both sides as the lapel rolls open at that point.

The trousers also have attractive finishing touches, like the extra strip used on the side pockets. This adds strength, but also looks nice and clean.

Interestingly, a reader commented on our first Brioni post that they would expect the Roman house to offer very padded, square-shouldered suits.

This is a cut that has been associated with them in the past, and you still see on some ready-to-wear. But actually the summer suits and jackets I was looking at were all softly made, with minimal shoulder padding and inset shoulders.

There is a range of makes, all with names that you can ask about and use for reference. Mine was the ‘Plume’, which I picked because it was the lightest style that still had a full construction in the chest.

Brioni also does styles with nothing at all in the chest or shoulder, and they can do the same inset shoulder as I had, but with the ‘shirring’ or ripples associated with Neapolitan tailoring.

So – again, as another reader asked – they really are a good option for a range of Italian cuts, from the stronger shoulder I’d associate with the Milanese, to the very light and soft Neapolitan.

The first article on Brioni contained a mistake about hand padding of the ready-made jackets. A reader questioned this (thank you) and when I talked to head office, it turned out I had been misinformed.

That original article has now been amended, and if you have any questions on this aspect of the RTW, I recommend reading that. It also means that those jackets, while still very well made, aren’t as unusual or great value.

However, this whole process was about covering the bespoke at Brioni, rather than RTW.

It was meant to establish whether what they offered was proper bespoke, and whether it was executed well.

On those points I can confirm that it is, and it was. There were some small fit issues, as described, but this was still strong bespoke and I think should be considered by anyone that likes the luxury experience of a big brand.

My only caveats would be house style – it helps a lot if you like the natural style of the brand or tailor – and the rising price for different cloths.

I haven’t covered the shirt in detail, because it wasn’t the focus and because there wasn’t room. But I can at a later stage if readers are interested. 

Note that there is a surcharge for the full bespoke fitting and hand-padding I had, of £300. This is referred to internally as the ‘LM1’ service, and is included in the price quoted above. 

Other clothes shown:

  • Green knit: Linen, made to order, from Dalmo
  • Brown oxfords: Yohei Fukuda
  • Brown loafers: Edward Green Belgravia in mink suede
  • Belt: Brown suede from Rubato
  • Grey trousers: Crispaire, made by The Disguisery
  • Pocket square: Cream cashmere from Anderson & Sheppard
  • Watch with brown strap: Cartier ‘Chronoflex’ Tank Francaise
  • Watch with black strap: Jaeger Le-Coultre Reverso

Photography: Alex Natt @adnatt

 


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