Bespoke Mystique.

July 14, 2023

In my youth, ready-to-wear was still a luxury. These items were imported, too. Instead my mother, like the mothers of many of my schoolmates, bought cloth and sent me round to a tailor to have my clothes made. Certainly this also cost money. Some of the lads whose parents were less well off could be seen wearing blazers a bit too tight or trousers a bit too short because they had grown out of them before there was cash for a new fitting. (Before the reader asks, no my pants were not made in my school days!)

Until the beginning of the 19th century, Bengal and not Britain supplied the world with its cotton textiles. The Empire changed everything. In tropical Ceylon, there is little use for woollen fabrics from the cold reaches of Mother England. Cotton and silk are the stuff of which our clothes and banners are made. However once the likes of Marks & Spencer or Woolworth had made it to the capital, the slow trend toward clothes from the peg accelerated. By the end of the 20th century the textile industries had migrated back to Bengal with machine-driven men and women instead of men and women driving spinning wheels and looms— for the global ready-to-wear market.

I’ve often been asked if my shirts are bespoke or how they compare to the renowned Jermyn Street wares. The fact is that like everything else in authentic style, there is no self from the shelf. A Jermyn Street shirt may be made-to-measure or if one still has the time for three fittings in a London studio (or for the Parisian style at Charvet). However just as when I was a young lad, if clothes make the man, then first the man must know what clothes fit him. Since I left college I have never had time to spend in fittings. I know what I want and where to find it. When I started selling shirts some twenty years ago, I anticipated men like me— moving faster through life not more slowly. A shirt that fits the body and pleases the eyes, that was first. Then a shirt that would be comfortable and correct, anywhere and anytime. Capturing the mystique of bespoke without the burden of buying it, like Kurt Tucholsky once said about tradition: preserving the flame, not the ashes (unless its in cricket of course).

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