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What’s the difference between MTO and MTM?

What are the differences between made-to-order and made-to-measure garments?

There seems to be abundant confusion surrounding the differences between MTM, MTO, and bespoke so we will endeavour to provide some clarity.

There are several ‘tiers’ when it comes to the level of customisability and fit optimisation of a garment. At the most basic level is ready-to-wear, meaning that the garment’s shape, colour, and style are predetermined by the manufacturer with generic sizing designed to fit the masses.

One step up from RTW is made-to-order, which is similar to RTW except for the fact that it allows the customer to make limited choices to customise their garment. For example, you have the option to choose from a typically relatively limited selection of cloths, in addition to customisable stylistic options like the type of pocket and the number of buttons on the cuff. The benefit of MTO garments is that you know what you will be getting insofar as fit, colour, and style; while the downsides are that prices will undoubtedly be higher than in RTW, you will have to wait longer as it is produced to your specification, and that fit does not really improve compared to RTW.

Another step up puts you in the realm of made-to-measure, which involves taking a customer’s measurements to ensure better fit than in either RTW or MTO, and provides even greater freedom of customisation. For example, you will be able to choose from a larger selection of fabrics, with many stylistic options available to tweak to suit your preferences. Typically several of your measurements are taken, for example: chest, waist, sleeve length, and trouser length - then you can decide on your choice of cloth and varying stylistic options before your MTM order is sent to be made.

In MTM a standard pattern or ‘block’ is adjusted using a customer’s measurements to provide fit superior to that found in MTO. MTM will work relatively well for the vast majority of people, but because it is merely an adaptation of a standardised block the fit will very rarely be perfect. However, you will be able to customise just about everything from the shape of your lapel, the colour and style of button, to the style of shoulder you’d like.

The benefit of MTM is that it provides a garment that has a more personalised fit, guaranteeing that it looks better on its wearer especially if the wearer’s body shape isn’t exactly ‘standard’. And although MTM garments are usually pricier than both RTW and MTO it is ultimately cheaper than full bespoke. The issue with MTM, in our experience, is that quality can vary wildly between the plethora of MTM service providers. If you are lucky or have a body that is easy to work with then you may very well receive a suit that looks fantastic in the mirror, however it may look or feel terrible the moment you move due to a poorly designed pattern.

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