(ripped down and ready for the masters re-cut)
Hi all, Tom Ritson here – apprentice to Mr Mahon.
Well, my first blog post has arrived. Hopefully you have seen the introductory video two posts back and are ready to receive my take on the Savile Row tailoring trade as an apprentice behind the scenes of English Cut.
Mr Mahon has now returned from the USA after a very successful trip to San Francisco & New-York. He has informed me of the lovely clients he has met again this time round…. I just wish I was there to meet them too!
Whilst in the USA I have been holding the fort in our workshop, preparing for the work that proceeds the boss’s return to England. With a fresh order book and many fittings to re-cut and continue on their journey through our workshop, we are now getting stuck in to the work ahead.
One of my first jobs is to ‘rip-down’ basted garments, ready for Mr Mahon to re-cut. I use a surgical blade to carefully take apart the garments (one slip of the knife and I’m out of a job) so there is a set method and great deal of care taken. After marking the alterations to be made whilst on the client at the fitting, each garment is again inspected on return to our workshop and paper patterns adjusted accordingly. Mr Mahon then re-cut’s every one to ensure the best posible cut prior to being made up fully by the coat maker and finisher. When the garment bastes are ripped-down and married up with each client’s paper pattern, it’s under the cutting board they go – ready and waiting to see the shears again.
As for new orders taken on the trip, I’m sending samples, ordering cloth and finalising paperwork. This can take a while due to the bulk numbers gained from these trips, however, I’m working my way through them methodically. Also, this gives me time to get familiar with the new bespoke client names I’ll be seeing over the coming months.
For the weeks ahead, I’ll be working closely with Mr Mahon, whilst he and I begin cutting the new orders and seeing this round of fittings off to our coat makers and finishers. I can’t wait to see these finished and ready for dispatch….
I very much look forward to the many subjects I shall be covering this year…. a very exciting time to be writing about the business, as there’s certainly lot’s more to come.
Apprentice to Mr Mahon
(waiting in line)
New York City for a few more days and it’s kindly laid on English weather. Not that a little rain’s a bad thing as it’s a little harder to think of Savile Row tailoring in the blistering sunshine. If you have a quick look at some of the fittings on the rail you’ll see that most New Yorkers are pretty conservative and classic in their choice.
We spend a lot of time both here in the US and back home in England deliberating over cloth choices. However, the reality is that we keep choosing the classics because they simply work, usually on most occasions. Don’t worry, I’m not saying our clients aren’t adventurous, I’m sure you’ve spotted the odd tweed and check on the rail.
However, it’s worth considering a couple of points if you’re new to the luxury of bespoke. 1, You’ll never look good if you’re not comfortable. 2, The beauty of hand made clothes is you may be living with them for a long time.
To clarify, you’ll be comfortable in one sense because you’ve had a suit made that fits and works with you. Giving you that perfect feeling of not being aware that you’re wearing something. Also, your cloth choice works. Don’t choose because you thing it’s what you thought James Bond was wearing in the last movie. Make sure it defines the statement you want to give in the environment you’ll be wearing it. Obviously, The boardroom and and the beach party are vastly different. Now I know it doesn’t apply to everyone but bespoke is a substantial investment on something special that you’ll want to wear for years to come. So don’t be a victim of fashion and find you wouldn’t be seen dead in that suit in three years time.
Of course there are hundreds of fantastic bright cloths which we make every year but most of us have our eyes on the boardroom and not the beach
(Rodgers and Hammerstein suite)
Also, many of clients have wondered why I’ve moved from the Benjamin my NYC home for twelve years to my new NY abode, The Omni Berkshire Place. Well it’s a bit like tailors. I got very well looked after by the manager of the Benjamin but he moved. So guess what, so did I. I’m working from the top floor, Rodgers and Hammerstein suite, which is so called because this is where these distinguished writers met and discussed a new Broadway play they thought people may like. It was called ” Oklahoma”
Lets hope some of that creativity rubs off on us.
It’s a good job I’ve at last found someone to replace me in a few years. I’d like to introduce you to Tom Ritson my apprentice cutter for the last year. By coincidence, Tom grew up in the same area as myself and also went to the same school. You cant get more English Cut than that even by his name which is local to the area. So let’s hope he enjoys the business as I have for the last thirty years. I only feel like I’ve been in this trade for five minutes but incredibly it will be thirty years next November since I entered this trade finishing at Anderson & Sheppard before starting on my own with Edwin of Steed in 1995. Time flies when your having fun.
Many of my customers know Tom already but he’s rapidly learning our craft and will hopefully be wielding the tape for his own clients in the not too distant future. You’ve may have been wondering where I’ve been as the posts have been somewhat scarce. It’s pretty easy to deduce why, a very busy expanding business and two young boys taking up the rest of my time. So there’s never enough hours in the day to cut, teach, run a business and write.
Fortunately, young Tom is not only learning very well, he thoroughly loves the craft. So much so he wants to teach the next generation all about it. He’s going to fill the gap of the often overworked Tom senior and help out with the blog.
We’ll be freshening it up this summer and doing something very exciting. Tom will be posting regularly about his journey through the trade. He’ll be showing you literally what’s being cut and made and give you a new aspect to the trade from an apprentice mastering his craft. I hope you’ll enjoy the regular updates and pictures and also following Tom’s career develop. I certainly know the readers of English Cut will wish him every success.
Talking of bright futures I’d like to wish my good friend Hugh McLeod and his new wife of two weeks many wonderful, happy years together. Early readers of English Cut will remember that it was Hugh who gave me the idea to start writing down my experiences in this wonderful trade. Hence, English Cut was born. The first ever tailoring blog.
I’m’ off on my usual spring trip to the USA next week and my full itinerary is here. Next year I hope Tom will be joining me so he can meet our friends in the US and carry the bags.
(John Kahrs well deserved Oscar,Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)
Did you think we’d all emigrated? I wouldn’t blame you as it’s pretty obvious we’ve not been posting much. Well, to those of you who’ve missed us I do apologise. We simply don’t seem to have found enough hours in the day recently to keep you up to date. Not that we’re complaining, especially in these tuff times.
We’re flat out at the moment getting ready for our next US trip this April, visiting San Francisco and New York. Here’s my full itinerary.
I’ve never had the chance to go to the Oscars but our suits certainly have. However, this time it was rather special as a lovely client of ours was awarded an Oscar for the best short film at this years 85th Oscars in Hollywood. We’re extremely proud of Mr John Kahrs and delighted that he said we made him feel that bit more comfortable and stylish on such and incredible evening for both him and his family.
What made this more challenging is that we were recommended to Mr Kahrs and he liked the feel and soft comfort of our suits. However, we were short on delivery time so a straight finish was required for the event without any fittings. Scary for everyone involved but although not perfect the sartorial gods shined on us on this occasion.
“I believe I wore the best-made, best-looking tuxedo on the red carpet Sunday night, and I have you and your team to thank for it! What pleasure to wear something that fits so well, and I got MANY comments through the evening and all through the next day about how great we both looked. Even more impressive is the fact that we skipped the usual fittings” John Kahrs.
I don’t know if it’s just me but there’s an interesting shift in style ideas going on, certainly with a lot of our bespoke at the moment. Although many of the high street suits and including James Bond’s are going for an almost 60′s style slimmness of cut and thin lapels.
(Mr Sinatra with proper lapels)
However, many of my clients are asking for wider lapels, especially in double breasted. Also, there’s a strong return to shawl collars, such as the one I’m cutting here. This is particularly unusual as it’s a shawl collar on a double breasted dinner jacket. There’s no doubt it’s a beautiful classic style but I have haven’t cut something like this in years. (Mr Bond, very slim and a bit short in back balance) When I talk about the DB lapels being wider I mean really wide, almost coming out the full width of the shoulder.
(slim cut Mr Bond and a bit short in back balance)
It seems strange to cut these these days but I must admit when a client of mine dropped in to see me in NYC last week he did look fantastic. It’s literally time travel, back to the 30′s and 40′s. It’s not a look everyone can pull off and the rest of your dress has to match but there’s no doubting that that’s from an incredibly stylish era. All we need to do is get a run on the hat wearing then we will have gone full circle.
(Basil Rathbone, a very elegant Sherlock Holmes)
So you’ll have to decide if you want to be James Bond or Sherlock Holmes.. I’m begining to prefer the latter :)
(the first thanks giving)
Well I’ve a few appointments left then then I’ll be packing to fly home tomorrow. I’m amazed I’ve still got some clients who’re making the effort to see me today before they make the mad dash home.
I know I don’t have to explain to our US friends but for the sake of our other readers this is the busiest travel day of the year. Rail, air and the roads will be full just like in this fantastic old movie.
Although in England we don’t celebrate thanks giving like this you can’t help but think of home and family at this time. After two weeks of traveling alone I’ll be looking forward to my very quiet journey home tomorrow.
(hope this isn’t me tomorrow)
As usual I was shown incredible hospitality and kindest whilst here and thankfully business was brisk so I look forward to my next visit in the spring.
Happy thanks giving to you all and make sure you enjoy the most important things in life.
We don’t make many tweeds with a peaked lapel but I’m sure you’ll agree this looks fab. It’s a bold check but cut so slim in this style it looks fantastic. This is about to be buttoned and shipped to a wonderful client in San Francisco so I hope this wets his appetite.
As I said earlier it looks as if Paul and I will be in Tokyo every six months or so, so if you’d care to try an English Cut suit I’ll be there on the weekend of the 15th of December. I’m already seeing existing clients and although I’m prepared to visit regularly I’ll only have limited room in the diary for about 6 or so clients. If you’re interested in treating yourself for Christmas, drop us a line and we’ll get you in the book.
I haven’t been to Tokyo for several years so any advice on a good hotel would be appreciated.