I got a flyer in the mail the other day. Nice photo of a young man, a shiny fellow, or at least recently exfoliated, with the tag line “Crafting Bespoke Experiences.” Naturally, I was all a-twitter.
I flipped it over. I suppose I should not be surprised he turned out to be a realtor. If you’re branding yourself as a crafter of bespoke experiences, you could be doing dang near any obscure thing. As a letter carrier, I could have marketed myself as a purveyor of hand-curated postal dispatch. Probably couldn’t have gotten away with “bespoke” because–spoiler alert here–a lot of that crap that lands in your mailbox actually went to everybody.
I was in my forties before I heard anyone say “bespoke” and I strongly suspected it wasn’t really a word. It’s not a great word, in my opinion. You can’t slide it into a sentence without it sounding like the wrench that got left inside the engine. But it has earned a vintage quality, having first been used in its current meaning in the 16th century, and it has strutted Britishly about mainly in the field of tailoring until recently, when it got discovered by Marketing, and now it is used willy-nilly to mark the user as a precious sod.
“Bespoke” primarily and historically describes tailor-made suits and shoes. If an item was bespoke, it was spoken for; it was ordered, or commissioned. Another word for it, in this country, is “custom.” By golly, if you got something bespoke, it was not off-the-rack. It was made for you. Just for you! So our realtor friend is promising to give you an experience not meant for anyone else. Something he has fashioned for you and you alone.
That means he’s not going to sell you just any old house on the block. He’s going to sell you the one you want. Maybe you even specified you wanted one with an eat-in country kitchen and a big yard and he didn’t even bother showing you the kitchenette on the postage-stamp lot–that’s how bespoke the experience he is crafting for you is. And if you’re the seller, it’s your house he’s going to represent. Not your neighbor’s crappy old place. Yours.
You want that kind of mindfulness in a realtor.
It’s possible I am being too snide, or even cultivating snideness. For all I know, this realtor indeed excels in facilitating artisanal transactions. It’s possible his is a heart-centered mission that supports homefulness. He may even empower his clients’ self-empowerment. If he really can create an ideal customer journey map, I think I speak for all of us in saying I can honor that.
And in any case I shouldn’t judge. Here at Murrmurrs we are a bootstrapped enterprise of ideation and snackable content inputting. I’m mindful of that.
On the other hand, if he’s just signaling he’s gay, that’s not going to make him stand out in real estate.
Most people probably haven't a clue what "bespoke" means, they just know it's "fancy." Scarcely anything is bespoke anymore; everything is off-the-rack and made in China by children. Everyone seems to want the cheapest, not the best quality or even sustainability. This goes for houses, too. How can a house be bespoke if it looks like every other friggin' house in the subdivision?
Well, there are *ways* it can be, but it really shouldn't be. "Custom" works fine.
Hah! My knitting for my grandchildren is definitely bespoke, says I.
Bespoke could just mean a custom designed interior that doesn't look like every other house in the subdivision.
It COULD…but what is a bespoke experience?
I loved it all, but the plot twist in the last line made this column soar.
Now describe your job…go ahead, it's fun.
Curated words and phrases for a discriminating audience.
Well, they ARE.
Maybe I'm a bespoken fit in an off the rack world.Yeah, that's it.
Yeah. Me, too, Jono. Me, too…..
Somebody's off their rack.
From now on I'm not going to explain that I cut up perfectly good cloth then sew it back together again. No indeed! I make bespoke bedding.
Um… Isn't that QUILTS?
Now that really is bespoke bedding.
It's only bespoke if someone asked for it to be that way. I never get bespoke right. Either the gray is too blue or the wool is too scratchy or cable isn't as ropey as they envisioned. People I knit for get what I give ;em and they'd better say thank you, or they won't get any more.
TERRIFIC post! It had me laughing out loud, which is unusual. For some reason it reminded me of something I learned while working at one of the major integrated oil companies: One needn't have a mission, but one MUST have a mission statement; similarly, one needn't have a single nerve-impulse of vision, but one MUST have a vision statement.
I'm working on an author website right now and it occurs to me that a nice mission statement could be a lot of fun…
Hi, Murr. You've clearly been "discovered by Marketing.'
Me? Enlightenment pilgrim.
I don't have a lot of evidence I've been discovered by anything, except y'all, of course.
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I'm on the east coast and I get up at 5:30. And the time listed on these comments isn't Eastern Time; I suspect it may be Pacific Time. I actually don't get on the computer until around 7am. I assure you I don't bite my fingers to nubbins waiting by the computer.
I have never in my life commented on a blog but in this case I have to. Marcia, why on earth would you post something so incredibly unkind about someone who simply enjoys being part of this little community? Shame on you. So depressing that even this place isn't safe from the world's unkindness. Mimi, sending you hugs, whoever and wherever you are.
Thanks, Becky. Hugs back! This IS a great little community, overall.
I think so too, although I didn't think Marcia was being unkind, just genuinely curious. It IS true mimi is almost always the first and I DO publish in the middle of the night! BTW I set the thing to go off at 3am Pacific time–I definitely am not awake at the time. Or I shouldn't be. Becky, comment away!
Utterly delightful wordinage. Curated craft beers for all, chaps!
Now ain't that nice.
love your words 🙂
I also love real estate flyers. I don't care what they're offering, bespoke or not, I will happily get online and look at what they are trying to sell.
These days we get to creep in other people's houses whenever we want. Naked.
And all this time in my growing up I almost always had bespoke clothing – my mother sewed most of our clothes. For the first day of school I always had a new dress – Dan River fabric I picked out that my mother then made. I still remember the lovely smell of those new things.
Oh, man… I just had a Proustian moment. Instead of smelling madelienes, I remember my mom had all this fabric up in the attic with which she made clothes. (She used to work at a fabric mill, and there was much thievery going on.) She made matching dresses for herself, me, AND my Barbie. She was a magnificent seamstress. I have NOT acquired this trait. I'll sew on a button. I'll hem… IF I MUST! But construct an actual outfit? Christ, NO! I don't have the patience.
Mom made a lot of my clothes too. Somehow she had a fabric remnant stash that fit in a hatbox in the top of the closet. THAT'S cutting it close.
Good one, Murr! And thanks for expressing my feelings, precisely, about "bespoke". I sometimes ghostwrite for a "boutique" (another word I hate) publisher that creates "bespoke biographies"–read: vanity life stories about singularly uninteresting people. Perhaps bespoke should be abbreviated as BS.
Love it! There are also some films that are called "vanity projects".
You have to be a good writer to doll up a singularly uninteresting person.
Very enjoyable. Thanks for writing this!
I laughed all the way through this. Much more fun than cleaning out the garage, which was what I'd been doing all day. Thanks!
Shoot, I should read them in podcasts, so you don't have to lose a MINUTE cleaning the garage.
But we ALL thank you for not doing that… see your earlier comment on procrastination.