Clothing Care

What is a full canvas suit? [and is it worth it?]

By on April 3rd, 2016

There’s a horse in your suit jacket, did you know that? Well, if your suit jacket is made in a full canvas suit construction, then the statement above is true to an extent. But what is a full canvas suit? And more importantly, what are the benefits to you?

In short, a full canvas suit is one that is manufactured with canvas throughout the chest portion of the jacket. This will help it to form to your body over time and give the suit some life.

A full canvas construction is important for a good drape in your suit and will help the jacket stand up to dry cleaning. This is in contrast to a glued, or fused, construction technique. What’s best for you? Well, it all depends.

To begin, let’s go into a little more detail on canvas construction.

Canvas construction

You may have noticed that for our finest suits, we offer what is called canvas horse hair construction. This is a full canvas construction using the traditional material: horsehair.

Why horse hair? Because the resulting canvas is springy, yet strong and resilient, and used to develop that “soft roll” when shaping garments (in contrast to a crease, something that is common in off-the-rack suits).

The canvas material that our suits are made from is actually comprised of real horse hair that has been bonded together to create a thin sheet of fabric-like material. Much like your suit cloth, it’s cut to the appropriate pattern and then stitched together with the fabric. Since we are a Colorado company, allow me to explain this further in terms of cold weather coats. When you buy a warm ski jacket, you’re generally going to have two parts: the outer shell (water and tear resistant) and the inner layer that is more about keeping you warm via insulation. Similarly, men’s suiting typically has two layers: the outer wool fabric and the inner canvas. The job of the canvas is to keep the shape of the suit.

what is a full canvas suit and do you need one

Imagine for a moment if you didn’t have this canvas, or something like it in your suit. You would just have a pile of very loose fabric that when worn, fit and looked a lot more like a T-shirt than the structured and resilient suit or sport coat that you want for the office or date night.

The takeaway is that horsehair canvas has some integrity. That it stands up on its own (say, when folded over) and will help give your suit jacket some life.

And of particular note, the canvas that our supplier uses is always treated with cold water to keep the canvas from shrinking. This is just another way that we help to ensure that your luxury suit is going to last you for many years to come.

So, what is a full canvas suit? Well, it’s a great way to build a suit that conforms to your body and lasts a long time.

Fused construction

The common alternative to a full canvas suit is what’s called a fused suit. Or, sometimes a “glued” suit. This method involves fusing an interlining to the woolen suit fabric.

Early industry attempts at fused construction produced mixed results. Critics are quick to point to “bubbling” in jackets, a phenomenon that often occurs after repeated dry cleaning where the fused material will delaminate (the glue losing its adhesion) and you’re left with an unsightly rippling of your beloved suit fabric.

But like so many things in life, a fused jacket is not just a fused jacket. That is, some manufacturers have developed very adequate techniques for manufacturing suits in this method. Here at Bespoke Edge, we are very pleased to say that our fused jackets have never shown any signs of bubbling, even after years of wear. They have shown excellent shape and contour.

So, what’s best for you?

What does all of this really mean? If you’re in the market for a suit, and specifically a custom suit, you’ll likely need to make a decision between full canvas and fused construction. Full canvas construction will cost a little more, so if you’re on a budget, then a fused jacket will save you some money and if you work with a decent clothier, you’ll still have a great jacket.

However, to get the real experience of what a fine suit can be, we recommend opting for a full canvas construction for every suit that you purchase. The coat will have life, hold its shape superbly, and nicely conform to your body after repeated wearings. It’s also going to last longer.

If it’s in your budget, definitely consider buying a full canvas suit to get the most bang for your buck.

What is a full canvas suit and do you need one

Wrap up: what is a full canvas suit?

If you’re looking for the best looking suit available, one that will conform to your body and last a very long time, then there’s no doubt that a full canvas suit is the right pick. There’s a lot of history behind horse hair canvas construction, and the fact that industry is still manufacturing men’s suits in this way after all these years, is a testament to the inherent quality behind a fully canvassed suit jacket.

Ready to buy one for yourself? Here’s how to get in touch with us.

P.S. Sometimes, it makes sense to reduce the amount of canvas in a suit. These types of jackets are called unstructured jackets.