What Is The Difference Between Ready-To-Wear vs Custom Suiting?

By Kirrin Finch
Ready to wear suiting by Kirrin Finch

Have you ever seen the fashion industry terms "ready to wear" and "custom suiting" and wondered what they mean exactly? When shopping at a retail store for a suit, one of the first things you might notice is all sorts of new acronyms and words to describe everything from the anatomy of a suit to the way that the garment was manufactured.

Ready to Wear Versus Custom Suiting

So what is off-the-rack clothing or rack-ready-made clothing and why is it relevant to your shopping experience?

Lets dig into the difference between Ready-to-Wear (RTW)//Off-the-Rack (OTR) compared to custom suiting, and help find what you're looking for. 

What is RTW/OTR?

The terms “RTW/OTR” and “Custom” refers to the manufacturing process that the garment goes through before reaching the customer’s hands. RTW can include a wedding dress or androgynous suits.

In the case of a stylish RTW suit like the ones we sell at Kirrin Finch, the garment has been designed by the brand and manufactured to pre-set specifications that reflect standardized size measurements (such as Size M or 40L).


Rack of customized suits in different colors

What is Custom Suiting?

Custom suiting is usually made to a customer’s specific body measurements. Additionally, a custom suit can often be made to reflect unique style details (such as pocket design, lapel style, etc.) that the customer selects.

Custom or bespoke suiting is a good option for special occasions like attending or planning a wedding.

Bespoke Suiting: Even More Customization

For a “bespoke” suiting experience where the customer is able to select everything from the fabric, and style details, to ultra-specific sizing details such as shoulder rotation and neck position. 

Bespoke fashion is perfect for those with a difficult frame to dress and a particular look in mind.

Ready to wear suit

Benefits of Ready to Wear (RTW) or Off the Rack (OTR)

RTW/OTR suits are the easiest and fastest option, as there’s no need to design the garment and minimal wait time to receive the suit.

In the case of a custom suit, the garment has to be designed and fitted with the customer’s input and manufactured after the order is placed. The wait time for a custom suit ranges from 6 weeks all the way up to 6-months, depending on the level of customization offered.

Altering Ready-to-Wear Clothing Can Make it Feel Like Custom Suiting

A RTW/OTR suit can often be tailored to meet the specific fit needs of each customer. Tailoring can be completed within a couple of days. Even in the most complicated of tailoring instances, an RTW garment takes far less time for the customer than a custom suit. 

Certain portions of a suit will be challenging and cost-prohibitive to have altered, such as the shoulder width of the blazer.

 And, sometimes it’s not possible for a tailor to “let out” or create more length in the garment given seam allowances.

Another risk is that tailoring may not achieve the desired fit, if the customer’s body measurements fall outside of the general size chart of the size options that the company carries.

Kirrin finch pants being tailored

At Kirrin Finch we are constantly improving our products to make it as easy as possible for our customers to tailor our garments.

Everything from our androgynous suits to our women's short sleeve button-down are made with fine care and quality craftsmanship that is built to last for many special occasions to come.

When is it appropriate to go for a custom garment?

If you are seeking a very specific fit that can’t be achieved through tailoring and have the means and time to invest in a garment, it may be best to go with a made-to-measure or bespoke option.

Or, if you have a specific design or style in mind, fully custom or bespoke suiting may be the way to go. 

If you are seeking a custom or bespoke suiting experience, we have some recommendations for queer-friendly companies to check out:

Bindle & Keep, Brooklyn, NY

Sharpe Suiting, Los Angeles, CA

Duchess Clothier, Portland, OR

Shane Ave, Sydney, Australia

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