Canvas is the interlining that is typically found ‘floating’ between the wool outward facing panels of the jacket and the inner lining that you can see on the inside of a suit. It is typically made of loosely woven wool and horse hair, made for the specific purpose of providing structure to the front of the jacket.
Its importance lies in its role as the foundation of essentially all of the jacket’s other components, including all of the chest, lapels, pockets, and even part of the shoulders. Furthermore, it also has to conform to the shape and physique of its wearer to provide shapely drape and comfort.
Pad-stitching sewn by hand is used to facilitate this added structure and drape, and are applied meticulously and repeatedly over the entire chest, collar, and lapel of the canvas.
This process is highly time consuming and labour-intensive, and hence extremely expensive. Only the best tailors can afford to have hand padded lapels, and hand padded canvas for superior drape.
The exact opposite of a full-canvas suit is the mass-produced fused suit, which forgoes all the difficult handwork in producing a canvas that is able to float and flow as the garment moves. Instead of taking the time to stitch the canvas to the body panels, fused suits use a synthetic canvas that is covered with adhesive and adhered to the inside of the panel.
While this contributes to faster and cheaper production, the end result is a garment that often feels lifeless due to its rigidity and lack of movement. Moreover, fused suits are less durable as the adhesive will stop sticking over time, resulting in delamination causing bubbles to appear under the surface. Dry cleaning further exacerbates this issue with heat and steam.
Last but not least is the half-canvassed suit, which has elements of both full-canvas and fused suits. It consists of a type of interlining covered in adhesive only on the bottom portions of the jacket, leaving the chest piece to float and move like in full-canvas, while the bottom is fused. This provides a medium ground in which there is some drape and flow, and the garment’s cost is reduced with less labour intensive production methods.
At Prologue all of our suits are still full-canvass because we feel that it performs far better insofar as drape, structure, and comfort. At the very minimum we recommend half-canvassed suits as fused suits lack longevity and are likely to be a poor investment.