Spanish-English Fashion Translation: Personal Tailoring

Last updated Jan 22, 2024
By Lucy Williams

If you’re working in Spanish-English fashion translation, it’s important to keep up with the latest trends and jargon. Personal tailoring is a growing trend for menswear and includes terms all fashion translators should know.Menswear can sometimes be overshadowed by women’s fashion. How many male supermodels can you name? No Googling! One? None? But ask the same question about female supermodels and you’re spoilt for choice.

But it looks like menswear’s time has come, with a predicted 5% growth in revenues from menswear over the next two years. Part of this growth is the rise in personal tailoring. So, let’s have a look at some key tailoring terminology

What is tailoring?

Put simply, tailoring is the art of designing and making clothes. It includes cutting, fitting and finishing. Bespoke tailoring is when the clothes are specially designed for a specific customer. A garment can be also described as “tailored”, meaning it’s more structured and fitted. For more fashion terms, the Business of Fashion website’s A-Z is a good starting point.Tailoring includes terms all fashion translators should know.

What types of tailoring are there?

Tailoring uses terms like made-to-measure and bespoke. In case you were wondering, these two terms aren’t interchangeable. Made-to-measure suits are cut by machine from an existing pattern and adjusted to the customer. Bespoke suits are fully handmade and the pattern is cut from scratch.

Spanish tends to use bespoke and made-to-measure rather than translate them, although sometimes the latter is seen as hecho a medida. Be careful with the difference between the two terms in English.

Bespoke tailoring traditionally means the suit was made on or around Savile Row, London. Although you’ll see it used elsewhere, technically, if it’s not a Savile Row suit, it’s not bespoke. Italian tailors refer to their version of bespoke as su misura, which again, isn’t usually translated in Spanish. See tailor Michael Mahood’s LinkedIn article, Bespoke vs Made-to-Measure – Know the Difference for more information about the two terms.

Is it only Savile row and independent tailors offering these services?

Tailored and made-to-measure suits are gaining in popularity and many big-name brands are offering these services. Massimo Dutti, Ermenegildo Zegna, Moss Bros and Reiss all now have personal-tailoring options.

Ermenegildo Zegna refers to its service as su misura. Massimo Dutti has a Personal Tailoring service for suits. It’s made-to-measure and offers a choice of fabrics from three high-quality suppliers: Vitale Barberis Canonico, Loro Piana and Scabal. But more about fabrics (telas) and weaves (estructuras) in future articles.Spanish-English Fashion Translation: Personal TailoringCLICK TO TWEET

How suits are constructed

To make sure a suit keeps its shape and has a flattering drape (caída), it uses an interlining (entretela). This interlining material, known as canvas, is usually made from horsehair and cotton. There are three types of canvas and Spanish fashion texts use the English terms:

  • Half canvas: the interlining runs from the shoulder to the area around the top button.
  • Full canvas: the interlining runs the whole length of the torso.
  • Fused: when mixed materials are bonded/glued together and used instead of a half or full canvas. Fused is called pegado or termofijado in Spanish.

The different parts of a tailored suit

We all know some basic features of a suit: sleeves (mangas), trousers (pantalones), lapel (solapa), cuffs (puños) and so on. For the purposes of Spanish-English fashion translation, let’s have a look at lapels. There are many different types of suit lapel and the terminology can get confusing. The three main suit-lapel styles are notched/steppeak and shawl.

The notched/step lapel (solapa de muesca) is the most common and gets its name from the notch or muesca that forms where the fabric from the lapel meets the fabric from the collar. Notched lapel is American English and step lapel is British English, but some big brands, like Massimo Dutti, use notched across their English texts. The notched lapel is used for single-breasted suits and less formal jackets.

The peak lapel (solapa de pico) is the most expensive to produce. It’s a more formal style, nearly always used on double-breasted jackets. This lapel has small peaks (picos) where the tip of the lapel points upwards.

The shawl lapel (solapa redonda) gets its name from its rounded shape, like a shawl. It’s used for tuxedos. Tuxedos can never have a notched lapel. See this description of different lapels for pictures of each.An understanding of the terms involved in personal tailoring can help you get ahead in Spanish-English fashion translation.

Why is the growth of personal tailoring important if you’re translating fashion?

Showing the customer that you’re aware of current trends is important. Keeping up with changes in the industry keeps your knowledge and contacts current. For more information about working in fashion translation, check out my article: “Why I Specialised in Fashion Translation”.

When translating fashion texts, you might work with a mix of clients, from luxury brands to high-street stores. With menswear and personal tailoring being a growing market, an understanding of the terms involved can help you get ahead in Spanish-English fashion translation. If you’re targeting the luxury end of the market, talking to the client using their vocabulary can give you an edge.

As we’ve seen, there’s a lot of terminology involved in tailoring. From pockets, collars, cuffs and seams, to lapels, weaves, fabrics and more. With the increased competition in the personal tailoring and menswear markets, knowing your two-button angle cuffs (puños cerrados) from your ribbed cuffs (puños acanalados) can help you target the clients you want to work with. I hope you’ve found this introduction to tailoring an interesting one. Watch out for more blogs from me about the terminology you need for Spanish-English fashion translation. To make sure you don’t miss out, sign up for our newsletter by clicking the box on the right. We’ll send you all our latest posts and industry updates.

Written by Lucy Williams

Lucy Williams is a subtitler and a Spanish-English translator for fashion, tourism and luxury goods/services. She holds the CIOL Diploma in Translation and is a native English copywriter specialising in SEO-optimised long-form content. Connect with Lucy on LinkedIn.

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