(three doors, all need painting)
Well I doubt we’d be graced by a visit from Her Majesty but it’s wonderful to see our flag just the same. The sticklers of tradition among you don’t need to worry either. In my spare time, not that I have much I’m also a petty officer in the Sea Cadet Corps so you can be assured the colours are raised morning and taken down at dusk and not flown all night. I haven’t posted a full picture of our new workrooms and offices so I thought I’d let you see how they’re coming along. We’ve been engaged sorting out major alterations inside to make it the perfect environment to make beautiful clothes. We still need a new paint job and sign outside but I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a fabulous old building. And if you’re wondering, we do own all three floors and the length of the building you see in the photo. This as you can imagine gives us something that’s very rare in the world of Savile Row tailoring, room and lots of it.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with a cosy basement but it makes it so much easier for when you want to train new apprentices for the future as we certainly plan to do. We hope to be looking for two youngsters to start with Paul in the new year. I want this company to preserve our craft and be making beautiful clothes long after I’m gone. I must also apologise as I haven’t been posting much but I like to do this myself and not have ghost writers. It’s been a mad year but don’t forget us as I’ll be writing more regularly .
We’re busy trying to get everything completed for my USA trip next month. Just before we send this lovely coat to the finisher I had to let you see it. This was made by Paul and is a beautiful Lovat tweed sourced by the London Lounge. It’s bold in style but is surprisingly elegant and I’m sure hel’l be able to wear it on lots of occasions. Also, because of our type of make it feels completely weightless to wear but still looks so rich and soft. Of course it needs finished and pressed to really look superb. However, we’ve a saying in the trade “a good one doesn’t need it and a bad ones not worth it” Lets hope we’re making these wonderful garments for years to come.
(my time on the board was never like this)
Another benefit of having an 11 roomed building is that we’ve got room for nice long cutting boards. This as you can see is especially handy when I have to look after my eldest son for a couple of hours. Tom and Jerry and a tin of biscuits and he’s the the happiest Patrick in the world.
(that’s me on the left with the stick. apprentices beware)
( shorter and easier to wear)
In bespoke tailoring the main thing that gives so much pleasure for me is that I’m dealing with individuals. People who have different ideas and personalities which I have to remember and adapt my fitting and styling to so that we both achieve what we want. Yes, we’ve a house style but subtle differences are what it’s all about.
As I’ve always said you’re only as good as your last coat. This is not simply a matter of technical ability or quality of workmanship. It’s very much to do with understanding what your client truly wants from his commission. In simple terms you can cut what you think is perfect but find your client’s not as convinced. In exactly the same way I may not be happy with the result but my client is over the moon as we’ve hit the spot exactly. This is of course is because it’s for an individual who thankfully has different ideas from everyone else which lets me enjoy a different challenge every time I put my shears in the cloth. It’s the old saying, “one mans meat is another mans poison”
The picture above is a classic example of this. This belongs to a lovely client who’s been kind enough to order a very substantial wardrobe from us. He’s all the classics then some very unusual suits that break the mould. He owns a beautiful classic single breasted overcoat but he wanted something shorter, more fitted and easier to wear on all occasions.
When I started in the trade this type of garment was called a “car coat”. You don’t hear the term any more but it was for exactly as its name suggest. Originally it was from the great days when most cars where open topped. The were rather chilly and and a nice coat was always needed, certainly in the UK. A classic overcoat would be too bulky and awkward to wear so the driver needed something sporty and comfortable but still had you looking elegantly dressed upon arrival.
So out of necessity the car coat was born. Shorter with a little flair for sitting comfortably with easy to access pockets to get your keys etc. Usually made as our example here of a sportier less formal material such as this lovely tweed from W. Bill which we’ve cut with back darts and a half belt for a little extra style. I’m not sure if my client will be wearing this in an open top vintage Bentley but when he does arrive at his destination he’ll definitely look the best dressed.
For my US clients you’ll be pleased to hear I’ve booked my tickets for the US this Autumn. The details are here.
Orders for car coats are being accepted
Well I’m sure you’ve all heard we’re having quite a party over here. Team GB has got everyone gripped in Olympic fever. For such a small island nation we’re punching well above weight our as usual.
I’m sorry that I’m gloating a bit but come on, we’re not called Great Britain for nothing
( classic 3 roll to 2 English Cut)
It’s been difficult to take our senses off the Olympics but we’re still hard at it here both tailoring and kitting out our new home. This is a piture of one of our new made to measure range just before we boxed it up to ship to Hong Kong. You’ve all no doubt heard the availability of tailoring out there so we’re delighted that people are interested in getting their hands onto another winning British product.
As you can see it’s got all the hallmarks of our house style and this one has been made for the warmer climes so it’s also buggy lined. What makes me feel good about one of these suits is that I know they’ll feel as good to wear as they look.
(160 years and still going)
Essentially, you could say this blog is about craftsmanship. So people have noted our Granfather clock in the picture. Should you visit you’ll see it standing in our front office and incidentally it was made by local craftsmen, Cairns Bros in our pretty marked town in the 1850′s. It’s still keeping perfect time today, well when we remember to wind it.
It never rains but it pours they say. New baby one week then flooded out of our home the next No matter, life throws things at you from time to time and all I can say is thank goodness for home insurance.
Even with the little hiccups that come our way, life here at English Cut is very good indeed. We’re loving our new home and I know a lot of people have been asking to see some pictures of the new place. The good thing about the internet is that I’ll be able to show you exactly what the new place is like with videos and pictures. But as we all tend to be a little house proud I’ll wait till all the paint’s dry and the carpets are down. Then you’ll all be invited both electronically and physically to drop in.
My cutting room has stone flagged floor and a wonderful old fire range in it. It’ll be a a bit too much of an effort to make a cup of tea on this but just knowing how many brews it’s made over its two hundred year old history will be comforting enough. It looks a bit rough at the moment but wouldn’t we all if we’d been covered up up for about sixty years.
(a bit of tlc ?)
(and it could be like this)
It was interesting that earlier that I spoke of the the lovely fabrics that are available for the summer months. I thought I’d show you these striking cottons from Holland & Sherry. As you can see they’re refreshingly different with such a bold stripe in them. Of course you’ll all be aware that we’re not the fastest tailors in the world and you’re probably wondering how will this fellow get these in time for an English Summer? Fortunately for him he enjoys the year round sunshine of California. So whenever they’re ready it’ll always be in time for summer
(cotton in the boardroom)
(Francis William Mahon, 24hrs old)
Just a quick note to let you know I’m having a couple of days off at home to get to know our new son. My wife, Claire gave birth to a beautiful boy, Francis William on Tuesday the 19th.
If you cant get the apprentices you have to grow the apprentices. Talk soon
(Peter Day of Denman & Goddard)
We’re all nearly settled in our new home but it’ll still take a couple of months to get things the way we want it. When our new home’s ready we’ll give you an online guided tour and I’m sure you’ll be delighted as me to see a full traditional tailoring business at work.
When I was in our London office earlier this week I had the chance to have a good chat with a friend who’s been on Savile Row longer than we’d both care to remember. Peter Day of Denman & Goddard was telling me all about this lovely garment that was made around 1895. It’s a junior diplomats uniform, or secretary to the ambassador with the diplomatic corps. This is a rather grand uniform but these were the grand days of the British Empire when dignitaries from around the globe wouldn’t have expected anything less.
The workmanship on this material is incredible. Let me elaborate on a few things. First of all every stitch is by hand, every one, even the the long side seams. Also the doeskin it’s made of is far superior than anything available today. Sadly, you can’t feel the texture but to give you some idea the bottom of the coat is a raw cut edge. As in there’s no turn up or seam. The fabric’s so tightly woven it’s not frayed in the slightest. Of course today we’d never dream of leaving a raw edge like this. However, if we could you couldn’t get anything as clean and elegant.
(back pockets to keep your credentials)
When this was supplied by the military tailors of the day they took care of everything the hat and even the sword. As you can see the tailors name of Meyer & Mortimer can be seen on the sword blade. Obviously it comes as no surprise to find all the gold leaf embroidery is done by hand using 2% gold over silver wire laid on silk velvet. There was a few people who specialised in gold embroidery at the time such as Hands & Co, Hobosons of Tooley Street. There were more and it’s amazing they employed a lot of people creating the beautiful embroidery that was needed in those grand old days.
I can’t thank Peter enough for such an insight and I must say he always makes time for people. Apart from being a very nice chap there’s no doubt how respected a figure he is in our craft. However, what made me smile most that day was how after all these years he was still so exited when he was looking at such beautiful work. After all that’s why we’re in this business.
I’ve been travelling for most of May and it’s good to be home. We’re all looking forward to the jubilee and long weekend to celebrate a marvelous sixty year reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the 2nd. It’s a very special time to be here and I’m extremely proud that our Queen has reigned all of my life and God willing we’ll enjoy this for many years to come.
Celebrations, of course but we wont be having much of a break here at English Cut. We’re extremely busy and we’re taking advantage of the weekend to move into our new premises. I’ll show you the new place when we’re in and settled.
I’ve been asked a lot recently about cooler fabrics to wear in the hot summer months. Something we’ve had the pleasure of enjoying recently here in the UK. I answered this question a number of years ago. Here’s the article, tweaked and brought up to date but very relevant.
(A sample bunch of fine linens from Dormeuil, the cloth merchants on Sackville Street, around the corner from Savile Row.)
Michael Alden of The London Lounge recently asked me the following question:
Many of our [London Lounge] readers are preparing their wardrobes for Spring and Summer. I have always felt that the Anderson & Sheppard style of tailoring always worked exceedingly well in warmer weather as long as the choice of fabrics was correct. Rigid, lightweight fabrics like frescos and Irish linens when hand sewn and without lining always seem to be the best solution to warmer weather. What advice would you give our readers about garments, their sewing and choice of cloth, destined for these seasons?
The truth is, there is no magic, secret formula for making coats for warm climates. It’s just common sense, with three main tenets:
1. Only use fabrics which are extremely light.
2. Only use fabrics that are extremely breathable.
3. Always build the suits with a very light internal structure.
Allow me to elaborate:
We’re all aware how wonderfully cool cottons and linens are. The downside, of course, is that they do look as if you’ve been sleeping in them after a few hours of wear. Still, it’s the honesty in these fabrics that gives them their charm. We all know they crease badly, but that’s their style.
But if we want to stay cool, whilst still wearing the proper, formal business attire, what’s on offer?
Your standard worsteds (Super 90′s} are usually out of the picture; the lightest this quality is found is usually about 9 ounces (light enough in one of our suits).
In very lightweight wool fabrics you’re usually looking at finer quality Super 120′s/150′s. These do indeed crease, however the compromise in comfort is a fair exchange. Besides, I’ve taught you how to press, haven’t I?. These materials are going to cost more, but that’s par for the course when you get into these lightweights.
Another option, which is a very viable one, are the modern ‘High Technology Materials’. These probably sound as scary to you as to me. Especially with names like, “Supertronic” ( now called “Business Class“) from Scabal. Believe it or not they don’t have a strand of man-made fibre in them just a very tight weave in the cloth that literally makes them bounce back into shape. It’s all good, honest and most importantly, cool, pure wool.
Even without their unsettling names, if you take a look and feel the texture of these materials, I’m sure like me you’ll find them a little, dry to the touch and you could be convinced there must be something awful in there, like polyester. But there is none- this as I said is simply the way the cloths are spun to produce this robust, stretchy texture, even in 7 ounce materials.
This is the main problem with these materials. Customers and tailors alike feel that these cloths are somehow hiding something, unlike something traditional as a cotton or linen. Our minds trust them, but our hearts do not.
That’s about it. Compromises do have to be made in warm climates, but c’est la vie. Still, if you follow the obvious three rules above, you can still look good and keep cool at the same time.