I’ve been considering commissioning bespoke suits. How would VAT influence my decision?

Bespoke tailoring originated from England and later travelled to Italy, which is why today the only two schools of bespoke tailoring that exist are either English or Italian. In both these places, VAT is almost three times higher than what it is in the UAE. So commissioning bespoke suits here is still cost-effective.

Within the realm of suits, there are three types. All three are subject to VAT so choosing which category gives you more return on investment over time is important.

The first is off-the-rack suit, also known as ready-to-wear suit; it’s the most common and easiest to find. These suits are mass-produced with sizes meant to fit a large segment of the population. While they can be altered to a certain extent and refitted to your body size, achieving a perfect fit is next to impossible. Moreover, due to it being mass-produced, the lifespan of these suits is definitely much less than that of a tailored suit.

The second kind of suit is the made-to-measure suit. Most stores selling ready-to-wear suits offer this service as well. You choose a fabric of your choice and a few styling options after which you are compared to ready-to-wear sizes and the size that you are closest to is amended to fit you in the best possible manner. The suit is machine-made the same way ready-to-wear suits are made.

While you can choose the fabric and style of the suit, its construction and fit is the same as any ready-to-wear suit so still has a short lifespan.

The third kind is bespoke suits. You go to a bespoke tailoring house and spend time with the bespoke tailor, who will take you through every stage of the process. From deciding on the kind of fabric you’d like and each and every detail of your suit with regards to styling and your lifestyle preferences, the bespoke tailor will help you make the right decision. Your suit is then handcrafted with over 120 hours of handwork with a pattern made especially for your body shape.

You are then given fitting trials where the fit is judged over your body and changes made to create a suit that is as close to perfection as possible. Since it is handcrafted, the life of these suits is 8-10 years, possibly more based on the fabric and the care taken during use.

VAT is charged regardless of which category of suit you purchase, so it would make sense to ensure that your suit gives your the highest possible return on your investment with regards to its fit and lifespan.

Pawan and Ashish Ishwar are tailors at Knights & Lords, a bespoke tailoring house in Dubai.