MY CHOSEN CAREER
When I was 16 I thought I knew exactly what path to take. Without much thought I planned to finish my A levels, go to university and start a career in finance, something that’s very familiar in my family. At least that was the idea before I discovered bespoke tailoring. Ever since that day I wanted to find out more and more so my interest grew to the extent that straight after A levels I rejected my university offer (without my dad’s consent of course) and decided to pursue my dream.
But I knew I had nothing to offer, no experience. Regardless of all that I approached Anderson & Sheppard and I’ll tell you why this particular company in a second.
What’s my recollection of the first time I entered the door on 32 Old Burlighton St? Terrifying! I think I said “have a good night” instead of “good morning” I was so nervous. Nevertheless I put a few words together and I was told that Mr. Hitchcock was on holiday and would be happy to see me after he returned. That’s how it all stated. I came in for one day’s work experience then another and another. Eventually, a few days before Christmas last year I was offered an apprentice position under John Malone and Oliver in the trouser department. Needless to say, I jumped at it.
So why Anderson & Sheppard? I remember countless walks through Savile Row after school, during my summer holidays, they’ve all ended with a long look inside the shop on 32 old Burlington St. I thought to myself “this suit has beauty, it has style and it screams comfort!” It was love at first sight.
I started on the 23rd of December 2013
SHAWL COLLAR DINNER JACKETS
One of the delights of working in a busy workroom such as the Anderson and Sheppard Academy here on Fouberts Place is that as we are training we get the opportunity to see and work on a wide variety of coats and overcoats. These range from country to formal wear and everything in between!
I know that I should not pick favourites, but I must say that during my time here I have developed a bit of a penchant for formalwear, which are not the easiest to make, but I think I thrive on the challenge!
Recently, we have had an abundance of coats with shawl collars. Two of these were dinner jackets, one single breasted, the other double breasted and also a double breasted velvet smoking jacket with corded frogging to the fronts and sleeves.
As you can see from the pictures of the finished garments, the unusual thing about shawl collars is that there is not a collar as such. That is to say that the collar has become one with the lapel and shaped by the tailor to create a smooth uninterrupted run from the waist, to the neck and back around again.
This fluid line can only be created by making the jacket in a rather unorthodox manner. Ordinarily, we would put the facings on the lapels, join the side seams and complete the linings of any coat before closing the shoulders and proceeding to put the collar on, but with the shawl collar this process is turned entirely on its head by closing the shoulders and basting on the under collar first. This is because the side seams cannot be sewn up as the coat must lie as openly as possible in order for the tailor to be able to put the very best possible facing on.
Once the under collar is secured on to the coat, it is shaped as one with the lapels to ensure that the point at which they connect is completely undetectable and will make for a flawless finish. Linen tape is then applied to the shaped edge as it would be with any jacket and then the basting of the facings begins!
This is the tricky part as you must call on your knowledge of both facings and top collars in order to produce the perfect facing to a shawl collar. You want the end result to be clean, but not tight, and with some cloths, especially silks and velvet, this can be very difficult. Fortunately, both dinner jackets were of lovely cloth and I think the end result is very pleasing. My next challenge however was to be the velvet smoking jacket, the outcome of which is to be my next Notebook entry…!
MY JACKET – WORKING ON THE UNDERCOLLAR
I have been an apprentice for 2 years now and it is time for me to begin to learn how to finish a jacket. This includes working on the collar and putting in the sleeves. These two processes take a lot of patience and deep breaths.
Once the shoulders have been closed and pressed, I make a start on the undercollar. Starting at the back of the neck, I baste it on so that it stays put and cannot move around. The undercollar seam must match the back seam of the jacket. I then baste it around the back neck working in fullness on the undercollar edge as I move around to the shoulder and finish one and a half inches down from the shoulder. This forms the back neck and collar stand. At this point the collar is manoeuvred so that you can lay it flat and finish basting round to the lapel letting the collar fall where it feels most comfortable. My teacher, John will come and check and make sure that the collar is sitting in the right position. She makes sure that it has a nice, smooth run over the shoulder and that it is neither too tight nor too loose. This is extremely important as every part of the jacket hangs off of the collar and therefore, if the collar is too tight, the lapel will roll too low and if the collar is too loose, it will roll the lapel too high.
A lot of the work involved with the undercollar is about using your eye to check if it is right so experience and practice is the only way forward!
VISITS TO CLIFFORD STREET
Once in a while you may meet someone new who quickly feels like an old friend. Recently a charming Frenchman, Stephan Pieracci, came to the Haberdashery. He has followed the Anderson and Sheppard notebook for a long time and so knew all about us. He paid several visits during his stay, he loved the shop and we loved him as you can see from this picture of Emily and Conor. He left wearing one of three Shetland sweaters that he took back to live in the south of France until the summer comes.
COLLABORATION WITH G. J. CLEVERLEY
Recently we collaborated with our favourite shoe maker G. J. Cleverley creating two styles exclusively for Anderson and Sheppard. A chiselled toe, fiddle shaped , laced ankle boot available in both horse chestnut and mid-brown leather and mole coloured suede. The second style, a Loro Piana cashmere slipper with a gently rounded chiselled toe in black, navy, red and charcoal grey. Many thanks to both George Glasgow Senior and George Glasgow Junior at Cleverley.