Bespoke

A few years back, while on a business trip, I bought a corduroy sport coat on clearance at a J Crew store in Scottsdale, AZ. I can’t remember the exact price but I remember it being so low that I couldn’t justify not buying it.

It was slightly too big but not so much so that it looked horrible on me. I imagined the slightly oversize fit would be perfect for wearing with a chunky sweater underneath. The ideal business casual outfit for late fall in Minnesota. Not so much for late spring in Arizona. Hence the price, I suspect.

I brought the jacket home and it served me well for a couple of solid years. Especially at first when I was just a tad bit heavier. It was still big but not enough for me to care.

This year, as the first chilly blush of fall came, I put it on and it seemed not quite right. A bit too roomy in too many places. Even more so than the past. I had lost a little weight but not too much. Enough to make a difference though. It did not look bad but it did not look its best. I finally had to care.

It took this realization to spark my mind to the idea that I could take it into a tailor. We have a really great one close by. One who takes tremendous pride in his craft. One who learned the trade through apprenticeship and years of study. One I’ve taken other things to in the past.

I felt sheepishly dumbstruck that this had not occurred to me before. Perhaps it was because I paid so little for it that I felt I had to accept the jacket as it was off-the-rack. Perhaps, in my mind, I thought (correctly as it turned out) the price of having it tailored would far outweigh the price I paid which stopped me from even considering it as an option in the first place. No matter the reason, I’m glad I got past it.

The price to have it tailored to fit me perfectly was still less than I would have paid to buy that same jacket at full retail. Doing so would not only made the jacket look better on me now but allows it to continue to be a mainstay of my wardrobe for many years to come — perhaps even a lifetime. Well worth it. Should have done it right away. And, if I ever need to, um, let it out a bit again I now know I should take it back to my tailor and he will make it perfect for the me yet to come.

I believe there is a place for this is the world of technology. I think there is a need for a Software Tailor. For instance, you have a text editor that works well but could use just a few changes to make it work perfectly for you. You take it to the Software Tailor and they do that for you. Or perhaps you go to one to build the perfect task management app to fit your specific working style. In my mind, many who program are crafts people and I think there is a growing opportunity and need for such a service by people with these skills.

Of course, this would mean we would need to have a culture in place to support this. Those who make such products from the beginning would need to “leave a bit of extra fabric” in their products to allow for such growth (or to take it in a little in the middle). Just like a tailor can tell much about the manufacture of a garment from the threading and seams, and make adjustments accordingly, so too would code have to be clean and well commented. But, once again, if a culture and system to were support this, those that take the software trade seriously would excel from builder and tailor. Those that did not would be revealed and expelled.

Can you imagine a future where, for a price, a key software tool that you rely on can be bespoke? That programming would be a trade craft passed down through apprenticeship and study. That when you want a piece of software to fit you just right, you can take it to someone to make do that?

I can and I wish it so.

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