I am lucky enough to have a few custom-made racing suits, and though each fits better then any off-the-rack piece I’ve worn, none is exactly perfect. The forearms of my one-off Alpinestars suit are an inch too long, binding against my hands in tight corners, while the forearms on my custom Icon/Berik suit are slightly too tight, making it almost impossible to pull off on a hot day—and occasionally contributing to arm pump during long sessions at the track.
None of this is the fault of the expert tailors who constructed the suits. I can only blame myself for submitting less-than-perfect measurements for them to work from. To be fair, it isn’t easy to measure something as complex as the human body. Each time I’ve done it with help from my wife, at our kitchen table, the process was only made more complicated by having to follow translated-from-Italian instructions and fuzzy pictograms that give only the most vague indications of where the measurements are actually taken. It’s no wonder there’s always a mark or two that’s off.
World-class racers, of course, need everything to be absolutely perfect—including their riding gear. A baggy crotch or loose shoulders that let the armor shift around during a crash won’t cut it, which is why sponsored racers are usually measured by the same specially trained tailors who actually build the suits, using sophisticated techniques to insure the best possible fit. Now, Dainese offers American consumers the rare opportunity to be individually measured by a Dainese factory tailor, just like a MotoGP rider, and then use that data to order custom-made leather jackets, pants or suits tailored to fit.
I recently attended the very first U.S. “Made to Measure” event at D-Store Chicago, where I was measured by Dainese factory tailor Angela Trotto, who traveled direct from Italy for the event. It took more than 30 minutes for Trotto to painstakingly complete almost 40 measurements, each according to Dainese’s highly developed Fitnet protocol, to create a complete numeric representation of my body—just like she does for Dainese-sponsored racers like Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi. Trotto employed many tricks to insure absolute accuracy, like tying a string around my hip bones and putting an ink mark at the top of my spine so her reference points didn’t change as she moved from side-to-side. She took special care to make sure muscles were flexed before measuring, and triple-checked each measurement before marking it down. The Fitnet session finished with a short interview asking about my riding style and gear preferences, information that helps Trotto make key inferences about adjustments and detail changes that can be made to the final product. Lastly, you spend a few minutes flipping through color charts—because of course you get to specify the exact colors of your custom garment, as well.
The result was enlightening, and I have no doubt that it would result in a better-fitting suit than any of my previous kitchen-table attempts. Now, I just have to convince my friends at Dainese to pull the trigger and make me a custom suit so I can experience the final result!