Key takeaways from this article:
- Fused jackets tend to not last as long as canvassed
- Canvassed jackets have a better more natural drape
- Use the “pinch” and lapel test to determine jacket construction method
What is canvassing?
Canvass, as referred to in relation to suits, is a blend of wool, cotton, and animal hair. Typically it is horse or camel hair that is used in a jacket canvass. The main reason animal hair is used is due to its ability to conform to a shape using humidity, heat, and pressure making the fibers of the hair retain their shape. The other advantage to animal hair is it is very light weight and can be from soft to stiff and coarse depending on where on the horse or camel it is taken from for the jacket. The hair is then woven with wool and/or cotton to create different thicknesses of canvass.
What is a fused suit?
Fused jackets are synonymous with cheaper suits, since it is typically used in mass production of suits to help keep costs down. Since canvassing is done by hand, which is time and labor intensive, it is more expensive. Fused jackets are made by gluing an interlining to the wool shell of the jacket. The main complaint about fused jackets is they create an unnatural stiffness in the jacket making it look lifeless. There is an issue with longevity in a fused jacket because of the potential for what is called “bubbling”. “Bubbling” is when the interlining starts to separate form the wool outside. This can occur when the jacket is steamed or dry cleaned. There is no way to fix this issue when it occurs.
So what is so great about a canvassed jacket?
The biggest two reasons purchase a canvassed suit over a fused jacket is that the canvassed jacket drapes better. Drapes refers to the lay of the cloth over your chest and the roll of the lapels will over time conform to your shape better. Many claim fused suits have a stiffer structured look to them. The other reason is a canvassed suit is said in many circles to last longer and wear better than a fused suit. In our opinion , if investing in a suit, it is better to spend the small bit extra to get a canvassed suit, especially if you plan on wearing the suit somewhat frequently.
How can I tell if a jacket is fused or canvassed?
There are two easy ways to tell if a jacket is fused or canvassed other than asking the salesman or tailor who made it. One is the pinch test- you pinch the fabric on the sleeve of the jacket to get a feel for it. Then pinch the fabric just below the last button hole and slowly pull them apart. You feel a third layer inside the lining and outside fabric, it is fully canvassed. If it feels like there is the lining then a thick one piece for the outside, it is most likely fused.
The lapel test is the other way to tell if a jacket is fused or canvassed. Look behind the lapels for tiny stitching, which is used to hold the layers of fabric together. A fused jacket will have no stitching behind the lapels. It can be difficult to see the fine stitching so you may have to feel and look carefully to use this method.