From department store sales people to many of the top mens magazines, full canvas suits are constantly regarded as the best around. Touted for their craftsmanship, classic fit and ability to hold up over long periods of time the full canvas suit is the class in mens tailored wear. What is the real difference between a full canvas suit and their lesser regarded counter part the fused suit? Does it really make that much of a difference and most of all, is the extra added cost worth it in the long run?
The Full Canvas Suit
What is it? Its a term thrown around but really very few know what it really means but it can mean the difference between a marginally made suit and one that is made of the utmost quality. A full canvas suit is one where the interior lining, also known as the interlining (invisible to the wearer) is hand basted-lightly sewn- to the face of the suit. This canvas is what gives the suit its shape and body. For decades this was the only way to make a suit jacket. The light basting allows the canvas to move and flex with its wearer. It is time consuming but when done properly the suit jacket will drape and move effortlessly.
The Fused Suit
Fused suits came about due to mass production. It was too time consuming and expensive to hand baste canvas so as a solution they would heat press a layer of synthetic material to the face of the jacket. Replacing the canvas with fusing saved hours of hand labor and cost on natural and relatively expensive canvas. the result was a suit that seemed to have the same properties as a full canvas suit yet with a lower cost to produce.
What is the difference
Initially the difference is negligible. To the untrained eye a fused suit moves and looks the same, yet to this day the top men’s suits are still made with canvas interlinings. The reason for this is what happens after the break in. Canvas suits will remain stiff on parts that do not move while in “stress points” it will break in and be more ply-able. this is what gives it a feel and look like it moves with its wearer. Over time it also tends to hold up better as the basting stitches stand up to dry cleaning and pressing while the glued fused suits will wear out resulting in de-lamination.