AT ANDERSON & SHEPPARD, WE FOLLOW THE TRADITIONS OF SAVILE ROW AND DRESS THE INDIVIDUAL CUSTOMER
The Anderson & Sheppard bespoke tailoring process is one of the most sought out in the world, appreciated for the level of craftsmanship as well as for our renown house style. Here, we describe the steps taken: your measurement and cloth selection, our behind-the-scenes work, the small, unseen details and the many hands that come together to produce a final, individual Anderson & Sheppard garment.
YOUR FIRST VISIT
On first arriving in our shop, you will be greeted by our Managing Director, Colin Heywood, or his front-of-house team Martin Crawford and William Lo. Here, you can learn the history of Anderson & Sheppard, our emblematic house style, and have all your questions about our process answered clearly. Depending on your lifestyle, the climate you live in, how often you travel and your career, our team will advise on three weights of cloth: Tropical/Lightweight (mostly for Summer), Mid-Weight (the most popular, most versatile) and Heavy (long-lasting winter fabrics).
CHOOSING YOUR CLOTH
Once you have decided to have a bespoke garment made, you will be invited to select from a wide range of cloths and patterns, including a choice of exclusively woven ‘Specials’ for Anderson & Sheppard. Here, we determine the primary use of the garment in fitting with your lifestyle. You might decide on a popular, versatile pure wool, cashmere, supple silk, or cotton and linen for more casual, summer tailoring. Velvet is an option for evening wear, and we also have a selection of Vicuna. The bespoke process begins the moment you have chosen the cloth that suits you.
Understanding the Customer’s Shape and Taking measurements
Two Cutters begin by taking your measurements. At Anderson & Sheppard, we have always separated the roles of Coat Cutter and Trouser Cutter, recognising their specialist skill in perfecting the garment. Their measurement method is a flowing, artistic marriage of the eye, intuition, experience and precision to realise your dimensions – keeping in mind the unique visual cues: such as posture and the way you stand. This has long been the house’s formula. Once sized up, this information is added to our measure book, and will join our records, updated or adjusted as time moves forward and whenever you return to be measured again.
Visualising the Suit and Drafting a Pattern
A ticket recording the measurements is issued to each Cutter, from which they draft the coat and trouser patterns by hand. An Anderson and Sheppard suit is one of a kind, and cannot be replicated anywhere else. Sometimes referred to as ‘The Drape Cut’, it features a distinct soft construction, with minimum padding to the shoulders, a slight amount of drape through the chest, and higher armholes. We then use your measurements and unique visual cues and incorporate them to our famous house style.
Your Individual Paper Pattern
Our customers’ individual paper patterns hang in the cutting room and are taken down when an order is placed. A Cutter will make slight changes to patterns if their customer’s measurements or preferences change
Laying out the Pattern Before Cutting
At this stage, the Cutters will arrange the pattern onto the cloth, using it as a template to lay the foundation of your garment. The various parts are arranged to minimise any cloth wastage as much as possible. The Cutters then chalk in the silhouette of the pattern onto the cloth, marking in the pockets, lapels, back, and sleeves, until an individual’s suit begins to take shape. Then, it is ready to be cut.
Cutting Cloth for Jackets
The person who takes your measurements will also cut and fit the coat, allowing the process to be as precise as possible. With the pattern chalked, the coat Cutter then applies their understanding of the customer’s stature to strike-in the various parts. Like an architect, they will observe and decipher the lines and marks to produce the correct proportion and balance, keeping in mind the amount of inlay to allow out for possible alterations in the future.
Cutting Cloth for Trousers
We then undergo the same process for the trousers. A specialist Trouser Cutter will perfect his work by considering your stance, the way you stand, the waist line and other important details. When both coat and trousers are cut, the pair are separated into bundles. If you are having a three-piece suit made, this will mean three individual bundles, one for each of the specialist tailors.
Selecting the Trimmings
At the first meeting, you may have given us special requests: perhaps a particular lining colour or customised buttons. Components, such as the lining, buttons, canvas, horse hair and domet, are known as ‘the trimmings’, unique features added to either make a statement or subtle choices to personalise the garment with understated elegance. Our in-house Trimmer will add all the other necessary components that go into the garment’s construction. This includes the canvas, buttonhole twist, pocketing, and other essential parts to complement the cloth.
PREPARING A TAILOR'S BUNDLE
The paper pattern is laid out on the cloth and chalked around. The cloth is then cut by hand, leaving extra cloth at certain seams or ‘inlays’. This allows for the suit to be altered at a later date if your weight changes. Material trimmings, like natural wool, canvas and linen, are added to the garment’s construction to give the suit its Anderson & Sheppard silhouette.
Forming the Suit
Once everything is ready, your ‘bundle’ is gathered. This is the cloth, linings, trimmings, and all the important ingredients that will come together to form your bespoke order. Along with your personal requirements and the Cutter’s notes, the bundle, or bundles, are allocated to our tailors, who begin shaping the garment into a ‘forward’, a half-ready version you will try on your first fitting.
Trouser Making: The First Fitting
Technically different to your coat, but with a similar tailoring process. As you try on your trousers for the first time, you can discuss how you feel about the silhouette, for example: the width through the leg, which can be tailored to suit your ideal shape. How does the waist fit? Do you prefer them to sit looser or tighter? With your Cutter’s understanding of your body, and your own style choices, these questions will inform your finished trousers.
What to Expect: Your First Fitting
This is the day you finally get a feel for your bespoke coat, trying on a temporary, basted version with white cotton stitching. As you observe yourself in a mirror, the Cutter will then decipher and adjust. Quick, flowing marks and cuts are made to the white cotton, so the jacket can be deconstructed and perfected later. It is a coupling of the Cutter’s eye and sense of proportion, and your thoughts so far.
What to Expect: Your First Trouser Fitting
Your Cutter will use this session to understand how the garment fits so far, asking you various questions and making their own informed suggestions. They will simultaneously strike areas with chalk, or snip sections of the ‘forward’ and discern what needs adjusting. Much of this is done by sense and intuition. After years of experience, the Cutter is able to recognise areas that need to be altered. Once you are happy, we update your records to make the changes to your pattern and return the forward fitting back to our workshop.
Using the notes from the first fitting, we make the final touches. The sleeve-heads are now finished by hand, and the tailor adds the last flourishes to the shoulder, and gets to work on any other precise alterations. The basting cotton works like scaffolding. Our specialist Finishers then apply their deft touch: The meticulous hand-sewing, the inside of the lining, the precise detailing around the collar, and the button holes. The subtle details that make the garment unabashedly special.
Sewing in the Buttonholes
All Anderson & Sheppard buttonholes are sewn in individually by hand, with a level of precision befitting of our house. We do not use machines.
With your bespoke garment now fully crafted, it goes to the presser. During this stage, the final shape will form, with certain areas pushed in, shrunk, and pressed until it results with the customer’s precise measurements. Once we’re happy with the result, the buttons are sewn on – symbolising the end of the suit’s composition.
The day has finally arrived to discover your bespoke garment. The final fitting is not necessarily the last fitting, however. The Cutter will inspect if they are happy with the way it fits your body, and ask if there are areas that require adjustment. If so, we’ll keep it on site to make these changes. It could be just a quarter of an inch on the sleeves, or taking up the trouser. Anything, no matter how big or small, to ensure it fits the Anderson & Sheppard standard.
The journey doesn’t end the second you walk happily out of our doors. This is the beginning of a new process, adapting the suit to take you through the various parts of your life. We offer our customers exclusive aftercare services, including a professional sponge and press to help preserve the garment’s longevity, as well as readjustments, or fixing general wear-and-tear. Now that you are invested in the story and heritage of our house, we want your Anderson & Sheppard garment to bring you enjoyment for many years to come.