The Bespoke Advantage feat. Nick Lopez

January 10th, 2014

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Every time Alex goes home to Texas for the Holidays he comes back with some fresh new gear. His father being his biggest style inspiration, Alex has been slowly transporting his pops’ vintage duds from Houston to Los Angeles.

This time Alex came back with some vintage loafers, suede bucks, and a couple old brass rings. During his stay Alex’s dad also introduced him to Nick Lopez, his Houston based tailor for the past 25 years.

“I’ve known Nick Lopez for the past 25 years in which time he has made me over 50 suits, 30 sports coats and probably 50 pairs of slacks. His skills are unmatched by any other tailor I’ve met and he’s by far the most well known tailor in Houston, Texas. His client list reads like the who’s who of successful Houstonians… There are few real craftsmen left in the world and Nick is truly a master of his trade, not to mention a really nice guy.” – Steve Crawford

Alex documented his meeting with Nick, as well as the process of putting together his first bespoke sports jacket.


What is the difference between “Bespoke ” and “Made to Measure”?

Definitions can differ, but generally “bespoke” signifies a pattern that is custom drafted and cut specifically for one client, rather than creating a pattern by making adjustments to stock sizes (which would typically be considered “Made to Measure”). That said, everybody uses base patterns to some degree.

Moreover, true “bespoke” generally signifies one master tailor handling the project from start to finish. For example, Nick measures, cuts, fits, and often finishes the garment himself. All the work is done in his Houston shop.

Very few tailors operate in this manner anymore, due to the amount of labor it takes to handcraft one garment and the process’s overall lack of scalability (of course, Nick has other tailors sharing the workload too).


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A bespoke suit also typically involves 3-4 basted fittings (while a made-to-measure suit generally moves from measurements taken to garment completed, with alterations performed afterward).

“Basted fittings” are fittings performed with an unfinished garment at different stages of manufacturing. This allows the master tailor to make adjustments throughout the sewing process, making sure every part of the garment is adjustment properly for the client’s frame before final setting.




Is there a big difference between “Bespoke” and “Made-to-Measure”? Is Bespoke worth the extra price/wait?

It depends on the needs of the client. Most guys with balanced proportions (no physical abnormalities or noticeable asymmetries) can do quite well with Made-to-Measure (which is still custom-sized for your body, including adjustments for things like shoulder slope and posture).

Alex is a great spokesperson for the advantages of Bespoke. He greatly benefits from the additional basted fittings due to his Scoliosis. Notice in the pictures below; Alex has a very large protruding right shoulder blade, and a very flat left shoulder blade. This means the back panels of his jacket(s) need to be cut individually (the right side is about 7/8″ larger). The back strap on the left side is also shorter due to having less volume needed across the shoulder blade area (the pins on the left side here identify fabric that needs to be cut-down from the shoulder seam, which can also affect the shape of the armholes, shoulder slopes and neckhole/collar).

Alternatively, a strategy here could be to insert a pad on the left shoulder blade to create symmetry across the back – but we generally like the least amount of padding possible.



One of the coolest parts of Nick’s jackets is that they are completely self-lined.

No lining (except for the sleeves), just luxurious fabric on luxurious fabric:


Here’s the finished product in action:


Remember how I said Alex has been slowly adopting his father’s wardrobe?

He can thank his pops for the Rolex, vintage knit tie and crocodile lace-ups here.


It should also be noted that Alex was only in Texas long enough for one fitting with Nick. Nevertheless, the jacket turned out great and has already become a versatile go-to in Alex’s wardrobe (grey and brown is an underrated color combination, by the way).


Thanks again to Nick Lopez and Steven Crawford!





Thanks for reading.

Yours in stye,



Photography by Alex Crawford. 

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  • http://undefined Tom

    I was fortunate enough to have a suit made by Mr. Lopez a few years back. It is definately my favorite suit. It’s my understanding that he’s also tailored for the Bush family.

  • http://undefined Dick Lickerson

    Is it normal for the tailor to tuck my boys in before he measures my inseam? He told me that’s how the real Italian designers do it…

  • M Kenny

    That’s a really fine example of bespoke tailoring. I think you can never achieve the satisfaction that comes with the fitting provided by bespoke tailoring at a department store. Thanks Style Blogger for sharing this.

  • Sean

    Great outfit. What shoes are they?

  • TimL

    Beautiful jacket! Alex, you look great in it.

    Nick did a great job.

  • Steven Santander

    Awesome jacket Alex! I agree, grey and brown is a great and underrated color combination, very versatile. I always love a good mix of bespoke, vintage and hand-me-downs. Keep it up man!

  • Michael Hitsman

    Alex, that’s a great looking jacket. Would you be willing to give some insight into exactly how long it took to have the jacket made, and how much Nick charged for the process. I’ve got some fabric I’d love to have made into a custom jacket or suit.


    • Alex Crawford

      My experience was unusual as I was only in town for two weeks. He started the jacket the second day I was in town, brought me in for my first (and only fitting) the day before I left, then sent me the finished jacket about a week later. Usually the process would take a bit longer, but Nick is notorious for his fast turnaround.

      Nick was John Connally’s tailor. (Sidenote: Connally was in the car with JFK when he was assassinated and was wounded in the shoulder by one of the bullets. When his shoulder healed he had a huge divot where his shoulder blade used to be. That’s why he started coming to Nick, he was the only tailor who could make suits that fit correctly with his shoulder.) Once Connally was leaving for DC and needed three new suits before he left, which was in 48hrs. I can’t remember what happened to his other suits, they were stolen or ruined or something. Anyway, he called Nick asked if it was possible and Nick said no problem. Nick already had Connally’s measurements so he and his team stayed up all night and made all three suits using fabrics they already had in house. According to Nick none of the suits needed any alterations when finished.

  • http://undefined Robert

    Going nuts over the fabric pattern. Combined with the sweater, killllled it! I want to get in on the MTM review. I own bespoke, MTM, RTW from all facets; Duncan Quinn, Astor and Black (RIP), Michael Andrews, and also the likes of Modern Tailor and iTailor as well. I can offer a regular mans experience on the trade.

  • Jorge

    Thank you for bringing this gentleman to our attention, I’ll most definitely be paying him a visit someday. I’m looking to start my own game development business post graduation, and I’d like to introduce some real suit game into this industry (God knows it needs it).
    Looks great Alex, excellent choice in colorway!

  • Brandon

    So when’s Papa Crawford getting his feature?

    • Alex Crawford

      Haha, he’s tough to convince.

  • TO

    Thanks for the informative and insightful article. What do you mean by self-lined? Is this somehow different than a regular unlined garment?
    Does it mean that it is lined but rather than use polyester or other lining, the suiting material is used instead?

    • Alex Crawford

      That’s exactly what it means. The suiting material is used as the (1/4) lining around the shoulders and upper back.

      • TO

        Thanks for clarifying Alex. He did a great job on your jacket in just one fitting!

  • Omar Shaikh

    Immpecably fit sport coat Alex! Looks great on you.
    Would you guys classify MAB “bespoke” as true bespoke? Meaning to the level shown here. Also, if not, has Dan ever expirimented with a clothier that offers this service?

  • Ft_tony

    Oooouu Kill Em

  • Kevin

    Does Michael Andrews Bespoke outsource to China and or other cheap labor countries?

  • Shawn

    At some point in my life, I swear to myself that I will have a suit made exactly for me! May it be next year or in 20, I want to experience at least once the feeling of wearing a bespoke garment made exclusively for me! The feeling must be something else! Thank you Alex for the incursion in your experience!

  • Miguel

    Great article, lots of information, a great tailor is like your best friend, I don’t have the kind of money to afford this but the one I use is perfect, any old or too big blazers or pants, he’s always finds a way to make it work for my body.

  • Rob

    Great jacket and great insight as per usual.
    The more posts you do on bespoke suiting/garment doctor series the more I see the implications of anatomy and physics in clothing.

    I would love to see a photo of the finished product from the back to see the shoulder blade fit!

    As always thanks for the daily lesson.

  • http://undefined Joshua

    Alex, the jacket is amazing. Looks great. I like to notes given on the contrast between Made to Measure suits and bespoke ones. As I myself am a poor graduate student and can’t afford to go bespoke just yet, do guys have any recommended Made to Measure guys outside of Indochino that receives the TSB stamp of approval?

    • Alex Crawford

      We’re currently working on an extensive online custom suit (made to measure) review. Should be up in the next few weeks!

    • Adam E

      Another MTM option (Canadian, but ship outside of Canada) is EPH Apparel . They also have traveling tailors (can either measure yourself based on web videos, or get measured by their folks). They make a great product (if you go to their traveling sessions or their Winnipeg store, you have many more fabric options than their base on-line offerings), got a super comfy 3 (Super 130s grey wool) piece that gets compliments every time I put it on.