An Interview with Victor Besnard, owner of Besnard

Besnard is a heritage menswear brand dedicated to crafting timeless clothing of exceptional quality from Netherland. Founded by the current owner, Victor Besnard’s ancestor as a bespoke tailoring house, Victor revived it into a high quality and handmade ready-to-wear brand bringing soft Neapolitan tailoring to more classic menswear connoisseurs. 

It is a great honour to have the opportunity to talk with Victor and hear his take on this promising adventure.

Does Besnard still offer bespoke service in its own premise?

We only offer ready-to-wear tailoring, and we produce everything in Italy.

Handmade armhole in Italy

Many of our customers inquire about made-to-measure, which led us to start the development of a made-to-measure service. At the moment, we’re evaluating samples of several (Neapolitan) tailors. We expect to launch our made-to-measure service in early 2023. 

Why did you want to release RTW rather than bespoke?

I admire the bespoke craft, but it is simply not for everyone. Many young professionals want a decent suit but don’t have the means to buy bespoke. When I revived Besnard, I wanted to offer high-quality products at a reasonable price. We are by no means cheap, but we offer good value for money. For our tailoring, for example, we focus on the details that matter most; full canvas, handsewn collar, handsewn armhole and handmade buttonholes.

Italian soft tailoring dominates the world, why does it happen?

I believe there are two reasons. The first is that – in this day and age – the way of dressing is increasingly more casual. The softness and drape found in soft tailoring have a certain nonchalance that fits better into modern-day fashion than let’s say heavily canvassed suits.

The second reason is that people are more and more accustomed to comfortable clothing. They want a sport coat to feel like a vest rather than a harness.

Could you tell us what makes Besnard different with so many Italian tailorings?

When it comes to tailoring, deviating too much from conventional design tends to become gimmicky. However, there is a lot you can influence by playing with proportions and silhouette.

Our house style is inspired by the curved lines and proportions of Florentine tailoring as well as the informal soft canvas of Neapolitan tailoring. It has a full chest, slightly extended shoulders with no padding, and a relatively wide lapel with a low gorge.

How do you describe the classic menswear market in Netherland?

Last month I read an article on PutThisOn by one of my favourite menswear writers Derek Guy. He wrote: “For most people, suits are formal attire that you wear to weddings, funerals, and court appearances. The only people who wear suits daily anymore are people who sell them.”. It’s unfortunate but this statement also holds true in the Netherlands. Casual style is dominant. 

What is Besnard style?

We draw a lot of inspiration from the past. And there is so much style and taste in different periods. We are a big fan of the 50s and 60s Ivy League style, but also Italian tailoring from that era.

Our previous summer collection was inspired by the Italian Riviera style found in The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Next month, we are introducing a small collection inspired by the bold style of investment bankers in the 1980s.

You will find a lot of different influences in our clothing, but it will always have a classic feel to it.

Do you ship internationally? Where is your biggest customer base outside of Netherland?

We have customers all over the world. In essentially every country in Europe, United States, United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Australia, and many countries in Asia. The United States is our largest international market.

Do you think the fit of RTW is an issue to some people with unusual body shape?

That’s a hard question to answer. The objective of developing a ready-to-wear garment is that it will fit most people. In addition to that, there is a lot that can be adjusted in tailoring, such as the sleeve length or taking in/letting out the waist. However, there will always be people who need made-to-measure or bespoke to fit their bodies or their specific needs.

How did you go through the pandemic era?

We managed to do OK. It wasn’t a thriving period. With many people working from home and the absence of social gatherings, people weren’t exactly buying classic menswear. But the situation is improved and things are looking up.

We Chinese always wonder why suit or jacket can be worn in summer, is it too hot on the street?

Sure, it depends on the construction and fabric.

An unlined jacket will be cooler than a lined jacket, and an openly woven linen fabric will be cooler than a flannel woolen fabric. There is a lot you can play around with.

When is Besnard style the best solution and for what kind of occasions?

I think we have something for every occasion. We offer a wide range of products; sport coats, trousers, shirts, ties, and accessories.

Our formal shirts, such as tab collar shirts in pinpoint, are very appropriate for the office or weddings. But we also offer casual shirts, such as camp collar shirts or linen shirts, which are perfect for holidays or a weekend getaway. We enjoy having a dialogue with our customers so we’re always interested to hear product suggestions.