In the 1950’s, when the world became more dependent on petroleum products and plastics, fusible textiles were invented. This forever altered the course of suit making as we know it today.
For more than a century beforehand, suit construction consisted of using a canvas on the inside of the garment. The canvas was often times made of wool and interfaced with horsehair or, as a less expensive option, linen. After being cut to size via a client’s pattern, the canvas was basted throughout the lapel, giving it the rolling shape seen on the finished garment where the chest piece rolls back creating the lapel. Basting the canvas by hand is laborious, expensive and time consuming which is why many suit manufacturers today have long since abandoned this process. That paved the way for the fusible to take over the marketplace.
As an inferior construction option, fused suit jackets are much easier and less expensive to manufacture. The fusible is a poly textile that gets bonded to the exterior suiting material using heat. It tends to keep the wearer warmer than average due to a lack of breathability. Most notably, the chest can buckle at the innermost portion because of the plasticity of the chest piece. It is less malleable and, while looking stiffer/sharper from afar, is uncomfortable to move in.
Once designed in our shop, we use a CAD program to print out the pattern and a Gerber machine to cut the canvas. The canvas is tacked at the stress points betwixt the outer suiting material and the lining inside the jacket. This being the “meat” to the sandwich, it gives the jacket structure and shape. It adds some memory to the garment, so it wears better with time and lasts longer. The canvas also breathes better than the alternative. Our canvasses come from Freudenberg, a German technology company. Coincidentally, the machines we use to baste the lapel come from Strobel another German company.
The largest benefit of a canvassed jacket is the drape, contour and softness of the garment. It will fit better the more you wear it because of the pliancy of the canvas. Pictured below is a close up of the canvas, with the horse hair interwoven into the wool.