The autumn visiting season is beginning this month, when hundreds if not thousands of men queue for bespoke clothing from travelling tailors (the process is identical for a first pair of bespoke shoes though subsequent pairs do not normally require a fitting). It is a system that generally requires eight months or more to obtain a finished product, but it is the principal option for men outside of New York and Chicago that want the fit and range of choices that are only available from one of the remaining world class tailors.
Though men who know what they want can order by telephone or email, the client usually chooses cloth and if necessary is measured on one visit, when he may also be fitted for the clothes he ordered the previous season. The incomplete item or items are brought to a hotel suite in the client's home city (in America, that means New York, and usually some combination of San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, and Washington) on the tailor's next trip, generally six months later. Any required adjustments are noted and the completed clothing is shipped in time for the customer to wear it a time or two before the tailor's return. Hopefully, all is well. If not, the offending things are returned to the tailor for further alterations requiring several more months.
The principal problem with the visiting system is the lag time, though that is ameliorated once there are clothes in various stages of the pipeline. And since completion of each step is usually a two month process, most of the intervening time can be dispensed with when a man can visit his tailor on his home ground once or twice a year. In the photograph, Dennis Hallbery, formerly a well-respected cutter at London's Anderson & Sheppard, fits a client at that firm's former premises on Savile Row.
Photo: David Montgomery/Getty Images