Sunday, 14 September 2014

The Role of Ready-to-Wear

Its a curious thing, that three separate Savile Row heavy-weights I have chatted with on three separate occasions over the last couple of weeks, have all expressed a joint admiration for the leaps and bounds that luxury ready-to-wear tailoring has made over the past few years or so. For two of these tailor-extraordinaires, this admiration was tinged with concern, given that these two are both hugely talented and highly-regarded masters of bespoke.


It is perhaps understandable that some consider luxury ready-to-wear clothing a threat to the bespoke world, but I would disagree. Both bespoke and ready-to-wear (with made-to-measure services comfortably bridging the two) each have their place. These products are by their very nature, hugely different. Bespoke customers want something deeply personal, handcrafted and uncompromising and have the time and means to pay for this. Ready-to-wear customers want to engage with these luxurious values, but at a fundamentally different price-point. Such customers also want access to good clothing quickly, and will often seek design inspiration from ready-to-wear collections. A delicate balance has to be struck. Bespoke should perhaps be seen as the natural, eventual progression on from luxurious ready-to-wear lines, with individuals reaching a point when they feel either fussy, confident or inspired enough to become a bespoke customer. In this sense, engaging with luxury ready-to-wear tailoring marks the start of a journey that many passionate customers make towards the next level of luxury and a bespoke tailor. This of course means that off-the-peg clothing need not be considered a threat, and indeed sartorial ready-to-wear garments can continue to provide a stream of inspiring design ideas for the bespoke world. If you spot a blazer with pleated patch pockets off-the-peg, next time you order a sportscoat, the same patch-pockets may well make a reappearance in your bespoke commission. Ready-to-wear design feeds bespoke design, and to a certain extent, keeps the bespoke world on its toes; aspiring to a level of luxury and exclusivity above ready-to-wear collections - as it should.


There is a lot of inspiration to be found from simply having access to such a wide range of different colours, textures, cloths and cuts that in all honesty many men would probably never even think of wearing (or commissioning as a bespoke garment) otherwise. Ready-to-wear is a refreshing source of inspiration, and there are huge benefits to be found in Savile Row's wealth of beautifully constructed and styled ready-to-wear offerings. Chester Barrie for example, famously offers customers access to what is might be thought of as ready-to-wear Edward Sexton, thanks to his collaboration with the brand, but Chester Barrie offers much more than just that. Under Creative Director Christopher Modoo's leadership, the brand repeatedly offers a frankly inspired collection of beautifully sartorial garments which are quintessentially 'Savile Row' with a refreshing modern twist. Gieves & Hawkes' latest collection is the first designed from start to finish by visionary Creative Director Jason Basmajian. It's an unashamedly opulent collection and it's masculine shapes, innovative use of cloths and attention to garment construction all enable the customer to access garments made from the same cloths as used in the bespoke world, but with a designer's eye for colour and texture. 

Down the other end of The Row, Richard James continues to produce stunningly contemporary and easily wearable menswear. Richard James is a brand which has done the Row huge good in my humble opinion, offering Savile Row up to be enjoyed and embraced by a huge range of customers who enjoy their clothes, from all walks of life. These are but a few fine providers of ready-to-wear collections on The Row, and importantly, what all these brands have in common are garments which (in one respect or another) hold-up against bespoke products, allowing for even the most privileged of bespoke customers to find inspiration, enjoyment and to build variety and depth to their wardrobe more quickly and affordably than might otherwise be possible.


That is the beauty of ready-to-wear tailoring, and luxury ready-to-wear should not play second fiddle to bespoke products, but should be embraced equally as one of the many joys of modern sartorial dressing. It is the role of the bespoke world, to continue to differentiate and elevate itself above the ready-to-wear market (and of course being a bespoke stalwart I would argue wholeheartedly that it does) but my point is that we should not belittle the enjoyment and quality of clothing that can be derived from engaging with those brands which take Savile Row tradition and identity, and masterfully implant it into considerably more accessible ready-to-wear clothing. 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The Anatomy of the Coat I: Pitching Sleeves

Welcome one and all to a fun new project with Cad & the Dandy, my first bespoke sportscoat, cut in a loud, slightly caddish rusty orange and sky blue checked wool by Holland & Sherry - just what I was after. In including this sportscoat on this site, my intention is not to cover the full-length bespoke process as I frequently do, but instead to focus on some of the technical aspects of fitting a bespoke coat (remember that 'coat' is the correct tailoring term for a tailored jacket) and offer some insight into the tailoring science that goes into the most intricate parts of a bespoke coat. The jacket below is at the 'skeleton basted' stage, made-up for a first basted fitting. At this point, all the individual exterior panels and the interior canvassing of the coat have been brought together temporarily, gently held in place by a loose web of white basted stitching. The trimmings, pockets, lining, collar and lapels have yet to be worked on. The idea at this stage is to provide an initial 'skeleton' of the jacket's form, allowing for the tailor to assess for the first time, which aspects of the jacket's fit need to be worked upon and improved.


With fit taking priority at this stage in the bespoke progress, one of the tailor's major concerns is to ensure that the sleeves are 'pitched' or fitted correctly. Getting a sleeve to hang perfectly around the shoulder and through the length of the arm is a fine art, often requiring several fittings. Every individual's arm will hang naturally at a certain angle, or 'pitch' in relation to the torso, and often on ready-to-wear or made to measure garments customers will have to put up with a degree of 'furrowing' or creasing either at the front or rear of the sleevehead, where the natural stance of the arm fights against the sleeve. One of the many benefits of bespoke tailoring is that your tailor can pitch and hang the sleeve perfectly to suit your shape, creating a sleeve that hangs effortlessly from the shoulder, with no furrowing  around the sleevehead where it is sewn into the shoulder, or down the sleeve's length. To achieve this, several things must be addressed. Initially, the cutter will assess the natural curvature of the customer's arm; some arms rest naturally with more of a bend at the elbow than others, so the sleeve itself will not be cut completely straight, but will be cut in a sweeping curve to match the natural curvature of the customer's arms. It is at this stage that the depth of the sleeve will also be assessed; and a generous or slim sleeve cut depending upon the customer's preference and the tailor's house style.

Then, at the first basted fitting, the sleeve must be 'pitched' in relation to the shoulder. Some individuals will have a rounded shoulder and their arms will sit forward a little in their sockets, others will have arms that fall backwards away from the shoulder, depending upon their posture. A bespoke sleeve must be pitched to allow the arm to rest in its natural position in relation to the shoulder with no resistance or friction from the sleeve itself when the coat is worn. The sleeve must effortlessly mirror the pitch at which the arm sits in the shoulder socket.


Sleeves can be pitched 'low' or 'high' with low-pitch accommodating figures with an erect posture and a low, backward slanting shoulder and high-pitch with those who have a forward roll to their shoulders, with a shoulder socket that sits high on their torso - hence the terminology of 'high' and 'low'. Initially, a bespoke coat will have the sleeves basted-in with an approximation of the correct pitch for the customer, based on the tailor's initial measurements and impressions of the customer's posture. During subsequent fittings, the sleeve position will be refined to sit with the correct pitch - hanging effortlessly with a clean, neat shape with no furrowing when the arms are at rest. To begin this process at the first fitting, the tailor will mark the pitch of the sleeve for the cutter clearly with chalk, demonstrating the angle at which the sleeve needs to sit naturally. The above photograph clearly shows the chalking of the sleeve pitch.


Excess cloth in the sleevehead itself can also cause furrowing because this excess gives the sleeve the opportunity to drop a little. To rectify this, the sleeve has to be lifted and roped in a little tighter. This process is known as 'picking up the hind-up' and you can see the effect in the photograph above. On this coat the sleeve was dropping a little more than we'd like at the rear, so the rear of the upper sleeve has been pinned-in behind my shoulder and that excess cloth will be removed to keep the sleeve free from furrowing. The pins running down the length of the rear of the sleeve indicate that the entire sleeve is going to be slimmed down. This is an aesthetic thing more than anything - I like a modern looking, slim sleeve and keeping the sleeve slim will minimise any chance of furrowing due to excess cloth at its rear.

Paying attention to sleeves offers an entirely new perspective on quality of fit, both for ready-to-wear and bespoke garments. Hopefully this post will enable readers to gain a better understanding not only of the technicalities behind fitting sleeves, but will also offer a suggestion of what to look for when shopping for well-cut off-the-peg jackets. A top alternations tailor will be able to strip-out and re-pitch a sleeve if needs be, but its a messy and expensive job, so next time you look in a mirror or attending a coat-fitting, make absolutely sure that the sleeve is as clean as it can be, and that you're happy with how its looking, before you proceed.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Changing Times

Well, I have always promised to keep everyone up to date with news, so here's your latest round-robin. I have some tremendously exciting news to deliver; essentially, if all goes to plan, in just a few short weeks, this blog will no longer exist.


Instead, if you wish to keep abreast of the thoughts of the Student Tailor you will need to visit an entirely new site, or at least visit this blog to be redirected straight through to thestudenttailor.com. I am in the process of having an entirely new, 'bespoke' website (sorry, couldn't resist) created in order to revolutionise and professionalise the appearance of this blog. The new site is currently under development and will hopefully provide a cleaner, more sophisticated design with menu bars, better links to my social media channels and a generally slicker aesthetic. All existing articles will be transferred across and will still be available to read and return to. 

Once the new website is launched, I hope that things will continue to grow at a pace. I am in the process of producing an initial contribution for the highly prestigious site Men Style Fashion and as usual I have been beavering away behind the scenes to line up a whole host of new features pertaining to all things special in the world of sartorial style. Within the next couple of days I will be publishing the first of two pieces about fitting a bespoke coat, focusing these articles around a new bespoke project. The series begun recently on the heritage of British luxury shoemaking brands will also be continuing; the first article of which on Bodiley's ofNorthampton sets the tone nicely. These features intend not only to introduce readers to some of the more individualistic shoemakers out there, but also to offer an insight into those little quirks that distinguish the approach and philosophy of these compelling British shoemaking brands.

On another front, a couple of commentary pieces have been teed up for the coming months, whereby I'll be previewing forthcoming menswear collections and I have been in discussion with a number of Jermyn Street brands about producing features which will introduce some of the most luxurious gentlemen's outfitters and accoutrements, to continue to expand the site's scope. A similar series offering readers an insight into artisanal menswear workshops, as well as a glimpse into the beating heart of Britain's cloth mills is currently also being arranged, with the aim of running a series on luxury British manufacturing in the new year.


I'm sure you'll all agree that this is heralds an exciting time for the Student Tailor, and I owe all my readers a great deal of thanks for supporting me along this journey so far. My readership figures and social media following having been growing steadily and this show loyal support is truly heart warming. I look forward to taking you all further on this journey as things continue to grow. Readers will be kept up to speed with the development of the new site, and normal service will be resumed forthwith. Expect an article on the technical process of pitching sleeves within the next few days.

With kindest regards,

Aleks

Sunday, 31 August 2014

The Grey Trouser Project with Cad & the Dandy IV: The Review

All good things must come to an end, and this column marks the end of my latest bespoke project, two pairs of grey mid-weight mixer trousers by my usual London tailors Cad & the Dandy. In embarking on this project, I wanted to continue to build a capsule wardrobe of affordable and durable staple tailored pieces, cut in honest, hardy cloths and fitted beautifully. I'm pleased to report that as with the double-breasted suit they cut for me most recently, Cad & the Dandy have not disappointed.


In terms of fit, these are not only the best trousers I own, but also pleasingly the best trousers that we've achieved together as tailor and client. As outlined in the posts on the first and second basted fittings, I have a difficult posture for fitting trousers, and getting the trousers to hang both cleanly across my front and around my rather rotund seat is a real challenge for a tailor. The addition of an extra basted fitting has ensured that both pairs sit fantastically cleanly around my seat - the sweeping line through the rear of the trousers is immensely pleasing. The pleats also fall and hang beautifully and the weight added by the two inch thick turn-ups on each pair helps the trousers to drape nicely through the thigh and calf.


The other great pleasure of these trousers is the sheer amount of hand-work that's gone into them; the lining to the waistband has been visibly inserted and stitched-in by hand, the pocket openings have been both tacked and top-stitched by hand and I love the way that the tops of each pleat have been very cleanly and tightly tacked in with a dense little bar of hand-stitching. 
Unusually, the fly of each trouser has not been hand-stitched but machine stitched, whereas my other bespoke trousers by Cad & the Dandy have a hand-stitched fly. I don't mind this however on trousers that are intended for heavy use, as the machine stitching is discreet, uniform and creates a stronger fly. Its also nice to sense those little idiosyncrasies of different trouser makers; although my other bespoke trousers have a hand-finished fly, they don't have any tacking keeping the pleats in place. These little differences in technique are a charming reminder that each bespoke commission is the work of a talented individual and not a soulless, mechanised process. The reinforcing tacks in these two new pairs of trousers are the ideal example of this individuality, and a reassuring as well as practical touch by the trouser maker.

I am also very pleased with the choice of cloths for this project. Initially I had a slight reservation about using a cavalry twill from the Holland & Sherry Dakota Plains bunch; I've often thought that it can look somewhat old fashioned, but I love the impressive weight, solidity and texture that it brings to these trousers. I have worn them day in day out for the last few days and they wear beautifully - they're the perfect workhorse trouser. Credit must also go to Holland & Sherry for producing a cloth with such sheen and variety of tone in the yarn, because the mixture of pale, mid and dark grey yarns makes the cloth look considerably more modern than it otherwise might. The light grey twill by Dugdale Bros. creases a little more than I was expecting, given that my two suits in Dugdale Bros. cloths are awesomely resistant to creasing and wear effortlessly. This cloth is slightly lighter however, weighing in at twelve ounces as opposed to fourteen, and it hasn't been double-milled (a process which provides a denser cloth with a light nap, as with my navy bespoke suit) and the slightly lighter weight is just what I was after to keep the trousers versatile. I also love the different mottled grey textures in the cloth - which again adds depth and visual texture.


All the boxes are ticked then. Its been a time consuming process with two fittings, but I am pleased to report that Cad & the Dandy have produced two pairs of quintessential grey worsted trousers which have not only satisfied my brief and arrived at the ideal time with autumn around just the corner, but which also on a personal note, have set a bench-mark in my working with them. These are the best fitting trousers they've made for me and they will set the standard for future commissions - they are a truly excellent shape and fit, sitting cleanly around my waist and hips both front and back; presenting the elegant, smooth lines that only bespoke tailoring can achieve. I feel very privileged to own them and the team at Cad & the Dandy should be proud of what they've created.


Fully handmade bespoke trousers start from £240.00 per pair (a distinctly affordable price for bespoke trousers) and take around seven weeks to produce, including a basted and forward fitting. Extra fittings are available if necessary but will of course increase the length of the process.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

What is it About Drake's?

I confess, I'm in love - and indeed I have increasingly been for sometime. And my love at this particular moment in time is for Drake's thirty six and fifty ounce silk foulard ties. Drake's first came to my attention around a year ago, when a friend treated me to a navy, cream and red abstract printed tie for my Birthday. Having never owned and always admired Drake's ties before, I became hooked as soon as I lifted it from the box, and even more so when I slipped it around my shirt collar for the first time. What is it that makes these delicate lengths of folded silk so enchanting? They're quite simply some of the best ties produced in the world today, and each and every one of them is handmade in London by highly experienced craftsmen. 


A relatively youthful company by the standards of the usual age-old luxury British menswear standards, the brand can claim a for itself a modern identity and progressive approach borne of its flexible and innovative take on British manufacturing. Founded in 1977, Drake's set-up shop in London - intent on producing the finest accessories (initially scarves - neck ties were to come later) with a real quality of manufacture and classically British flair. Some thirty years later under the direction of Mr. Michael Hill, the brand continues to do just that. 

Drake's has always prided itself on producing a quirky product, but one with integrity and British authenticity. Drake's ties and handkerchiefs are both designed and hand-printed in London and then produced (once more by hand) in the company's factory in the East End by a small, pride-filled and loyal complement of craftsmen. To produce its other accoutrements, Drake's partners with like-minded artisanal producers; creating knitwear, highly sought after limited runs of tailored pieces (this season's sky blue double-breasted linen blazer is particularly fine) and shirting. Particularly admirable the four ply Scottish cashmere shawl collar cardigans which offer the softest, yet most durable knits in the business.



In essence, nothing is allowed to compromise the quality of the product and Drake's ties are the ideal example the obsessive care taken to ensure that this is the case. Take for example the emphasis placed on construction. Drake's ties are hand-rolled for a fuller, softer shape, cut on the bias and hand-sewn using a perfectly honed slip-stitch through their full length (a technically demanding stitch, used especially for top-quality ties because it allows the product to stretch when tied and recover when untied). The great paradox of a Drake's tie is one of trust - this care and attention to detail produces a tie which feel extremely delicate, yet the quality of construction and cloth ensures that the tie is considerably more forgiveable and durable than many other similar products on the market - it takes a while to get your head around it and understand the durability of their ties. A Drake's tie feels light and comfortable on (even their fifty ounce foulards, which are really quite heavy for a modern neck tie), produces a lovely dimpled knot and recovers beautifully from a full day's wear, complete with regular tightening and knot-fiddling. They're the kind of accessory that comes to inspire an entire outfit, the quality of even something as understated as a plain navy grenadine shines through.



Ties come in different weights and with different linings (both tipped and untipped - again with a hand-rolled edge in the case of the latter) cut from beautiful silks, wools, linens and innovative cashmere blends but also using a combination of different blade widths and lengths. The different weights of silk cloths used are also emphasised and Drake's are (to my knowledge) the only company today who go to the lengths of routinely offering ties with different weights and linings off-the-peg. 

On personal note, as a lover of beautifully made clothing, and more specifically of bold vintage inspired prints and art deco geometric patterning - Drake's is pretty damned perfect. For example, I've just treated myself to a cotton and silk blended pocket square on which is emblazoned several scantily clad navy art-deco figures in bathing suits clutching orange and white beach-balls. The approach to such things is colourful, witty, dry and quintessentially British. Although there will be more to come on the new Autumn/Winter collection later in the season, the few pieces that have been released thus far are conventionally innovative and intriguing. Brushed silk diamond motif print ties in navy, purple, maroon and ochre set the standard.



There's not a lot more to say, because Drake's ties are one of those rare things that simply must be experienced in the flesh, and although an expensive luxury for many, I know of many menswear connoisseurs who simply will not wear anything else for having tried Drake's. I myself have been expanding my modest collection at every opportunity and would advise readers to indulge whenever and wherever they can. 

Drake's ties start at £95.00, bespoke ties start from £155 with no minimum order required.

www.drakes.com

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Bodiley's of Northampton: The London Collection

Any gentleman interested in sartorial style and the business of tailoring, will most likely possess an additional passion for classic, sartorial shoes. With this in mind, in an attempt to continue to offer an expanding variety of insights into luxury style on Thoughts of a 'Student Tailor', I will over the coming months be running a series of features on a number of hand-picked luxury British shoemakers. With this in mind, allow me to introduce Bodiley's of Northampton. There are many great shoemakers in Britain and across Europe, but special mention must go to those British shoemakers which have their roots in the unparalleled sartorial history of Northampton, a city which has acted as the hub for luxury British footwear producers for some nine hundred years. This shoemaking heritage makes for a promising foundation for those British shoemakers who continue to operate out of Northampton today, and Bodiley's is no exception.


Founded in 1919, with a past that includes the production of military boots for the armed services, and the creation of shoes in 1952 for Queen Elizabeth's II coronation, Bodiley's is about as classically British as a shoemaker can be. Of particular interest today are some of the more unusual correspondent or full-brogue models that Bodiley's produce, which set the brand apart from other Northampton-based brands. Their 'jazzier' models of course have their roots in the Jazz Age, when experimentation with intricate decorative punched broguing and with different leathers and dyes could be viably undertaken for the first time. Bodiley's was a brand which picked-up on these changes in the gentleman's footwear market and enjoyed a prosperous start catering to the wealthy dandies of the 20s and 30s. Take a look at the two-tone Wilton model displayed below - the side-brogue vamp contrasts beautifully against the chocolate suede uppers, making a distinctive modern statement with its roots nonetheless firmly in the correspondent shoes of the early twentieth century.


Another delight is of course the rare fact that the firm is family run. Sarah Dudley today is the fourth generation to manage the company which her grandfather founded. Under Dudley's leadership, the firm has not only retained an international reputation for the quality of its footwear, but also has benefitted from a modern, innovative approach; Bodiley's was not only one of the first traditional Northampton shoemakers to sell online, but also enhanced Northampton's reputation as a shoemaking hub by retailing other Northampton-based brands on their website, developing Bodiley's into one of the best online destinations for English made shoes.


The brand came to my attention last year with the launch of the London Collection, designed by renowned footwear designer John Garner (formally of Edward Green). Garner brought to the collection over fifty years of expertise in the luxury British footwear trade, assisting Bodiley's with everything from the designing of a new selection of timeless and beautifully balanced lasts, to the sourcing of superior materials. Naturally, all these shoes are made in Bodiley's Northampton factory, with a robust Goodyear welted sole - each pair taking over eighty hours to produce individually. Also striking is the suppleness of the leathers used (ensuring that the shoes will be forgiving and comfortable on) and the richness of the burnished brown finishes on show; which range from multi-tonal tan and antique chestnut to chocolate hues.


There are nine perfectly crisp and classic English shoes to choose from in the collection, (in addition to Bodiley's other usual models) ranging from the quintessential full-brogue in polished black calf, to a pair of sleek double-monkshoes in burnished chestnut. Its a cleverly conceived capsule collection which does everything it says on the tin, delivering 'the perfect shoe wardrobe for every gentleman'. I recommend readers in need of good English shoes to take a look; in shopping with Bodiley's, not only are you buying an English shoe of superior quality, you are also investing in a long-lasting piece of Northampton's shoemaking heritage. 

www.bodileys.com

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Science of the Bespoke Shirt I, with Ede & Ravenscroft

Discovering Ede & Ravenscroft's beautiful Chancery Lane store last weekend was a real delight. Meeting with Mr. Roy Sarling, Ede & Ravenscroft's Bespoke Shirting Specialist to order my first bespoke shirt proved even more enjoyable. Having a bespoke shirt made is a similar rite of passage to a first bespoke suit - the level of attention to detail, precise measuring, the thousands of beautiful shirting cloths and superior craftsmanship makes a bespoke shirt a truly wonderful thing to commission and collaborate on with a shirt maker. I haven't experienced such a rush of excitement and anticipation when ordering clothes in quite some time.



In ordering a bespoke shirt I was hoping to create something that wouldn't be available off-the-peg, whilst also resisting the temptation to go for something so outlandish that would become completely impractical. Although overwhelmed by the vast variety of weaves, colours and cloths (it is hard to describe how much more variety is available for bespoke shirts than is offered off-the-peg), I think I managed it. Despite being tempted by a tangerine herringbone, as well as a superfine plain imperial purple and even a turquoise, the eventual choice was something fundamentally more subtle. Dusty coral pink is fast becoming one of my favourite colours for accessories, because its soft, subtle and believe it or not was a hugely popular colour during the early 20s. I originally suspected that finding a coral pink shirting fabric would prove difficult, but I need not have worried.



A superfine two-ply ninety gram cloth, with an extraordinarily fine, silken handle was the eventual choice (the top swatch pictured below). The cloth itself comes from one of the most technologically advanced shirting fabric producers in the world and was out of this world in terms of soft handle and precision of weave. Having had a good look through a number of bespoke shirting bunches for the first time, it has to be said that the quality of cloth available has to be one of the premier advantages of going bespoke when it comes to shirting.



The other great advantage of going bespoke, is the level of expertise and personalisation a shirt maker can bring to a commission. This shirt is littered with lots of little points of personalisation, care of Roy's expert eye. Given that I wanted a long pointed collar, akin to that on a typical spread-collar from the 30s, Roy has deepened the collar and band from that of my off-the-peg shirts to allow for a long, narrow point. A collar tab is also being added to allow for the collar to sit close around a tie knot and button underneath the tie, helping it to lift a little from the neck, sitting proud, just the way I like it to. To match the tab on the shirt collar, the shirt gauntlet buttons are also going to fasten with a tab - a lovely little stylistic touch that was again Roy's suggestion.



The collar itself is going to be fused - this is not traditional but it'll keep the collar looking neat and clean with no puckering when its bent around the tie-knot and tabbed in place; its the modern, innovatory equivalent of a stiff starched collar. Even the collar bone pockets are being made precisely to fit my own collar bones. The front bottom edge of the shirt cuffs are also going to be 'mitred' or cut away in a rounded diagonal shape, to prevent the bottom of the cuffs from wearing thin due to constant contact with a desk - a feature recommended for those who spend a good deal of their day sitting and either typing or writing in the office. The body and sleeves are being cut slim - all judged by Roy's expert eye. It was particularly fascinating to see him pluck at the cloth of the shirt I was wearing all around my chest and arms, to assess the 'depth' of the shirt, so he could decide upon the necessary sleeve and body proportions. Another delightful feature is that Ede & Ravenscroft insist on lining the front of every bespoke shirt with a superfine voile lining, to prevent any skin tone from showing through - a wonderfully thoughtful feature that allows the colour of the shirt the shirt to shine through true.

Roy is a third generation bespoke craftsman, and as you will have gathered by this point, he is something of a shirting maestro. With some thirty five years in the business, twenty one of them with Ede & Ravenscroft, his passion for shirting is infectious, his relationship with his workshop extremely close and his technical understanding is superlative - though he would put it differently. "Its not about what you know, its about what you don't know - in this business you never stop learning". I certainly learned an awful lot from him at the fitting.



Also refreshing, is Ede & Ravenscroft's approach. Roy emphasised to me up-front that the process is slow and careful and that I won't be leaving the shop with the shirt until he is happy with it - a reassuring thing to hear for a first commission. Also refreshing is the fact that Roy, unlike a lot of shirt makers, has no minimum order requirement. It doesn't matter whether customers come in for one shirt or six, its all about providing an old fashioned, uncompromising service. Indeed, the store is imbued with the most illustrious sense of old-world comfort, service and glamour - right down to the excellent selection of gentle jazz standards melodiously serenading in the background. I was highly impressed by the personal, relaxed and generous service in the shop. I say generous because the time and warmth that Roy and his team exude is truly delightful.

The bespoke shirt making service is available exclusively in Chancery Lane, by appointment. Shirts start at £295 and as we have heard, refreshingly there is no minimum order required.

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