The word bespoke is derived from the verb “bespeak”, to speak for something, in the specialised meaning “to give order for it to be made”. The term bespoke in fashion is reserved for individually patterned and crafted men’s clothing, analogous to women’s haute couture in contrast with mass-manufactured ready-to-wear (also called off-the-peg or off-the-rack). The term originated from Savile Row, a street in London considered the “Golden Mile of tailoring”.
Bespoke clothing is traditionally cut from a pattern drafted from scratch for the customer, and so differs from ready-to-wear, which is factory made in finished condition and standardised sizes, and from made to measure, which is produced to order from an adjusted block pattern. The opposition of terms did not initially imply that a bespoke garment was necessarily well built, but since the development of ready-to-wear in the beginning of the twentieth century, bespoke clothing is now more expensive and is generally accompanied by a high quality of construction.