TAILORED STORIES PROJECT.

BTS Anderson and Sheppard

Over the past couple of month we have been visited by students from the fashion courses at Kensington and Chelsea College and the London College of Fashion. Working with the arts and education charity digital-works, they have created a project that delves into the history of Savile Row.

25 people from the trade were interviewed for the project; they talked to a mix of people who work in different aspects of the industry from many of the tailoring houses on the Row, and some of the interviews will feature in an informative documentary film about the people working on Savile Row.

BTS Anderson and Sheppard.jpg Micahael

From Anderson & Sheppard, Coat Cutter Leon Powell, Waistcoat Maker Rosemarie Bolger, Coat Maker Derrick Tomlinson and I were all interviewed.

With over 30 years at Anderson and Sheppard it was an opportunity for me to explore my relationship with Savile Row, and the discussion with the students really helped me remember and appreciate the amount of history that there is on the Row. It’s apparent in the amount of the people who work here that have been influenced by their parents and continued on in the trade, like Derrick and Rosemarie; and also to see how passionate the   younger generation like Leon are about the craft.

All in all it really was great to be part of this project, and I can’t wait to watch the film at the premier screening in June and see how it all came together.

Click here to listen to the interviews.

 

PRESSING THE GARMENTS

Anderson and Sheppard Pressing Garments (2)

Whilst pressing may not be the most glamourous aspect of tailoring it is a very important step in the production process nonetheless. Pressing gives a chance for quality control; cutters must be looking out for any number of small details. Things such as weak stitching, any damage to linings or the cloth that may have occurred during the making process must all be spotted at this stage prior to the garments being taken away by a customer.

The difference between a good job and that of a great one can all come down to the level of pressing it has received. Ensuring a job is perfect however may not always be easy; different weights of cloth react differently to an iron whilst special care must be given to garments made of cashmere, vicuna, velvet and corduroy as any direct application from the base of the iron can damage the cloth potentially ruining a suit.

All cutters at Anderson & Sheppard are trained to press to a standard whilst once again remaining vigilant for quality control, ensuring that all garments are finished to a highest degree.

Anderson and Sheppard Pressin garments

A VISIT TO OUR CUTTING ROOM

Inside the cutting room today is Head Cutter Danny Hall, Coat Cutter Leslie Haynes, Coat Cutter Leon Powell, Coat Cutter Ollie Trenchard and Trouser Cutter Oliver Spencer.

PREPARING THE CARNET FOR THE US TRIP.

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We are putting together the Carnet for the US trip, at the moment it consists of 160 jobs that are ready, and have been submitted through the London Chamber of Commerce. Everything that we send out has to be declared, we can’t add things or take things away. It’s basically like a passport for goods, to help things move along quickly and efficiently so there are no delays when shipping it over to the US.

So when prepping the trunks we get everything ready for each customer who has an appointment; we pull their garments and make sure everything for them is there. Garments for each day go into one trunk; they are packed  in appointment order so the guys that are going over can pull it out easily and not have to fuss about trying to find items for each customer.

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It’s a logistical task so we can’t afford to miss even one customer. In New York they will have approximately 15-18 customers a day some with up to four suits each, so can you imagine if one customer turns up and his suit isn’t there it will be a disaster for us so, we make sure that never happens. That means we are double checking and cross checking all the paper work as we go along.

The trunks are sent out two weeks in advance because they have to go through stages before they are flown over. The paperwork is checked; the trunks are weighed up and booked onto the flight, and once they have cleared customs they then get shipped out. If all goes well the trunks arrive at the Hotel 24 hours before our Anderson & Sheppard representatives arrive.

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Usually there will be between 180-200 suits for the week in New York.  Two day visits to Washington and Boston follow, with about 15-20 suits each in those cities. It’s a hectic trip but organisation is what guarantees it runs smoothly; so we ensure that the Carnet is properly prepared and the trunks are ready to go.

 

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GOLDEN SHEARS 2015

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The Golden shears for me has been an absolute joy to enter and was totally worth the months of hard work getting it all finished. I was so proud to get through to the final catwalk and was thrilled to be able to show my family what being a Savile Row apprentice is all about.

Unfortunately I didn’t get the coveted trophy however the journey to the final was a very rewarding time in its self. I pushed myself to learn new techniques and also got to spend time with Keith and Michael learning how to make trousers. (Keith also taught me a lot about 80’s rock music along the way too.) 

I started the project knowing exactly what the work would entail after seeing Jennie go through it all the last time. Jennie took me on after John Kyriakou retired and it has been great to have her on board as my mentor. I didn’t have a clue where to start or what to make. It wasn’t until November 2013 when I was walking down Regent  street during the Regent Street Motor show that I felt really inspired to pursue a Motorsport theme.

I grew up with the sound of Formula 1 being the background to the family Sunday lunch. My granddad was a car mechanic and my other half, Chris is also a Motorsport enthusiast so I knew that this would be a fun theme to follow which would get everyone involved.

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My research took me to Brooklands Motor Museum, and the images of Stirling Moss from the 1955 Grand Prix really stood out to me as they represented real British achievement. I also went to the Goodwood Revival, where I had great fun dressing up in vintage garments and Chris tested out the practice pair of plus twos that I made. I have now become a real ‘Petrol head’ and will be back to Goodwood again for sure.   

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 My Final design took inspiration from a traditional motoring outfit and the details found on racing overalls. A shorter double breasted jacket with pull over button up lapel, and pleated back meant that the wearer would be warm on those long country drives and yet be able to manoeuvre easily. The large pockets are functional for carrying maps and any tools needed.

The plus two’s are preferred over trousers as they won’t get muddy or get in the way of the pedals. I also made a small racing jacket underneath that is lighter and mimics the top of the overalls. The customer I had in mind would arrive at Goodwood in style in an open top vintage car, take off the double breasted jacket and hop straight into a Jaguar C-Type and race into the distance.

Golden Shears 2015

I looked everywhere for the perfect cloth that was practical and yet had a sporting quality to it. The cloth I chose was found at Scabal. The main colour is grey however the vibrant British racing green as the over check really jumped out of the bundle, and I knew this was the one. The racing jacket underneath was made in the same green as seen in the check. I also wanted to create my own lining.

There was a clear stand out idea for this from the start. It had to be the chequered flag! I designed this to also have different motorcar silhouettes running across the checks. I really like the contrast inside my garments of the bright green lining and the black and white checks.

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The plus two’s were the first garments to be finished and then the jacket. I left the smaller jacket until last just in case I ran out of time, however this got finished and when I realised I had scraps of cloth left I also made a matching hat.

When the deadline came in December I was thoroughly exhausted but happy to know I had given it my all and now it was in the hands of the technical judges who mark the first stage. The Christmas break involved a lot of sleeping!

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I was really looking forward to the big night. I knew that the standard would be high and when the dress rehearsal started there were many outfits that I thought where sure to win. My particular favourites were a beautiful Scottish dress with velvet coat, a shawl collar overcoat and a black jacket with a criss-cross leather panel.

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Each outfit was so unique and personal to each student not one was alike. My nerves finally kicked in during the dress rehearsal when I had to walk down with the model. I really didn’t want to fall over! 

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My family turned up early to support me (or maybe because the itinerary said there would be Chivas cocktails!). I had spent the last few weekends finishing my boyfriend’s suit and he looked very smart. My Mum, Dad and Sister had also dressed there best. This was the first time since moving to London that we had had chance to all get dressed up and spend the night together and they all seemed very proud to be there. After the show, although a little disappointed, it was short lived as my family and fellow tailors helped me party the night away.

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I look forward to seeing it all again next time and supporting the next young apprentices from Anderson and Sheppard.

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