Great tailoring is a combination of accomplished cutting and beautiful sewing. These skills can only be learnt from passionate exponents and Simon was fortunate in being able to learn from some very generous craftsmen. From Mrs. Ellis, his needlework teacher, to Eddie Fosbrook, master tailor, then Sig. Stucci, one of Milan’s most famous tailoring cutters, and finally Tom Slatter, back on Savile Row, Simon has indeed been lucky with the people who taught him his trade. His cutting technique is based, like most of London’s best bespoke tailors, on the F.R. Morris Tailor and Cutter system. This was recently revised, in the 1940’s! Although figures and styles changed this is still the best basis for cutting bespoke patterns. The construction, canvassing and sewing is also based upon the London tradition. In Italy Simon learned the lighter construction for summer weights and the finer style of finishing preferred on the continent.
After a new customer has been measured and style details discussed the first pattern is drafted. A fit up is prepared and tried, then all necessary modifications are applied to the paper pattern. Following this a first baste with the customers chosen fabric is prepared. The trouser by the trouser maker, the coat by the coat maker. This is fitted again, modifications noted and the pattern again adjusted. The second, or pocket baste, is then prepared. The lower and inside pockets are made and linings basted in. Trousers also have their pockets made and long seams machined. If, at the final fitting all is well the trouser is finished: zip or button fly, belt loops or side adjusters, and then passed to the finisher for buttonholing, felling the waistband etc.
The coat is stripped back and trimmed. The lapels are padded, edge tape applied, outer breast pocket made and then the facings are attached and set; the fronts are completed. The body is finished with the back and it’s lining, followed by the shoulders, collar and sleeves. All these processes are done by the senior tailor and his assistant working together. This ensures all the carefully calculated shape modifications are correctly applied. Collar and sleeve setting is done only by the senior tailor. The completed jacket then goes to the hand finisher for lining felling, prick stitching, buttonholing and collar finishing. Pressing follows, up to two hours of careful work and finally the buttons can be attached. Five highly skilled craftspeople work more than eighty hours on each suit. All the production is carried out in house with machines being used only for the main seams.
When one is judging a suit the three fundamental things to look for are: harmony of shape and styling, a flattering cut and silhouette and a correct balance and proportion. Then comes the correct choice of cloth, appropriate trim and of course, expert construction and finishing. Only true bespoke tailoring can give this amount of attention to all aspects of making a suit. The drape of the sleeve, the line of the shoulder and how the collar and lapel roll to just above the top button without a hint of tension. You cannot even see most of the work, it is hidden inside. But it is the hours of patient hand stitching, shaping and pressing that sets bespoke tailoring apart. Only when you slip on a bespoke jacket can you fully appreciate the difference as it falls effortlessly into place and becomes part of you.
Bespoke shirts have long been an important business for many tailors. Long considered underwear like many traditions this changed during the 1920’s. Shirts started to take a more important part in a gentleman’s wardrobe and were even mentioned in one of the most evocative novels of the period. Daisy Buchanan, the heroine in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic "The Great Gatsby" was apparently moved to tears by the beauty of Gatsby’s shirts. “Shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple green and orange and faint orange with monograms of Indian blue.”It is this, colourful, tradition that Simon follows, using his exacting eye as with any bespoke work.
Each customer is measured and all styling details discussed. Collar and cuff shapes chosen from our selection. Be it a hunting shirt for the weekend, a business shirt to set off a new suit or an evening shirt for a special event anything you wish can be produced. For every new client a toile shirt will be prepared and fitted. Simon will then modify the paper pattern before sending to our sewing room. We work together with one of Italy’s most prestigious shirt fabric producers, Albini, and we use only Australian mother of pearl buttons from Gritti. For such precious fabrics traditional single needle, flat felled, seams are unquestionably the best choice. Laborious to make but the seams stay flat and are the smoothest against the body.