One of the hardest things about the past few months has been getting to know all the cloth books. For every colour, pattern and weight there are several options across the various mills, all similar but subtly different.
Occasionally a customer comes in that knows exactly what cloth he wants, from a particular manufacturer to the weight in ounces. But most of the time they just have a rough idea of a colour and type of pattern, and the specific recommendation is up to me. You have to bear in mind if some suppliers are short of stock in particular areas. Some cloths are also hardier than others, or have a more luxurious feel because of a cashmere blend – it’s important to gauge what the customer’s priorities are.
Every now and then, a customer comes in that has no idea at all what they want, and that’s probably the hardest job of all.
In terms of weights, most men today want a suit they can wear all year round – very few have seasonal suits that they store for a season. So they want a mid-weight cloth and usually a fairly inconspicuous weave. There are customers that always want something a bit more unusual, but they are the exception.
Having said that, we have seen quite a few customers ordering linen recently, to be ready for the spring. So they are clearly familiar enough with bespoke to know they need to be thinking about those suits now. And they must be prepared to store those linens away somewhere in the winter.