Tailoring has never been so hot, yet few can afford to shop on Savile Row. City A.M.’s Life&Style editor Steve Dinneen goes in search of more cost-effective alternatives.
BRITISH tailoring is massive right now. Savile Row is undergoing something of a renaissance and top menswear designers including Tom Ford are releasing collections inspired by classic British looks.
The iconic Row is still among the best places in the world to get yourself kitted out in the perfect suit – but there are few who can afford to shell out £2,500 or more on every item they own.
In response to the piqued interest in tailoring, a host of companies have started to offer fully bespoke and made to measure services (there is a difference – fully bespoke usually involves 100 per cent hand made pieces whereas made to measure will use precision machine cutting).
One of these is Orhan Kaplan, a second generation tailor who owns Orhan Tailoring, which is sandwiched between Old Street tube station and Hoxton Square. The former womenswear specialist, who has created pieces for Princess Diana and Vivienne Westwood, says now is the ideal time to strike out into menswear.
“The re-emergence of the tailored look on the catwalks has trickled down into more demand from younger, more fashion conscious customers looking for something smart but with a twist,” says Kaplan. “You have trends like pairing a tailored blazer with a cardigan and jeans. We want to cater for this market as well as those looking for timeless traditional cuts and staple wardrobe pieces.”
I headed down to the showroom to get measured up. I was an awkward customer. I had a vague idea that I wanted a casual summer suit but nothing specific. I wanted “something a bit different” but I wasn’t sure what that “something” was.
Kaplan said he knew just the thing – he disappeared into his studio for a few minutes and came back with some cutouts from a recent Prada catwalk show, which featured bold check jackets and separate, tapered trousers.
“Yes,” I said. “Make me look like a Prada model.”
He measured me up and we sat and went through fabric swatches.
“We take our time to understand who the client is and how they want to feel when they are wearing a suit. We take into consideration what environment they will be wearing it in: is a creative one or the boardroom; should it be rock ‘n’ roll or something more traditional?
“Fabrics are essential in delivering a beautiful suit for the environment it will be worn in,” he says. “It makes a difference if you’re going to be wearing it in front of camera or in a business meeting. It needs to reflect your personality so you feel invincible when you put the suit on.”
“Yes,” I said. “Make me feel invincible.”
I went for a Prince of Wales check, cut high at the waist – a good suit for summer parties if the weather holds for more than five minutes at a time. The measurements and specifications are then sent to a factory in Europe, where the basic shape of the suit is created. This usually takes two weeks, after which you’re invited back for final alterations.
“We are always looking to create the best silhouette to give a great shape.” I have the jacket taken in further and the legs tapered. The suit was ready to collect in a week.
The quality of the fabric is excellent and the fit is spot on. Moreover, you can tell it is made to measure. I have (more expensive) made to measure suits that sit a little better – but with prices starting at £750 (the fabrics I chose pushed mine to £1,000), Orhan Tailoring is under-cutting its Savile Row rivals by a two or three times (more if you go to somewhere like Huntsman, where you can splash £8,000 on a suit). You can’t say fairer than that.
• Visit the Orhan Tailoring studio at 25a Pitfield St, N1 6HB; call 0207 250 3569; email firstname.lastname@example.org or log on to orhanlondontailoring.com.
WHERE TO SHOP
■ Online retailer Suitopia comes in at the more budget end of the spectrum, offering made to measure suits from £169, and coats and tuxedos for around £200. The fit is good but cheap linings point to the price point. Generally a good operation, though.
A Suit That Fits
■ Pick from a visit to the A Suit That Fits offices (one between Moorgate and Old Street and one near to Piccadilly) or navigating its slick website. Prices start at £259 but there are plenty of extras, including getting a custom design printed on the lining.
■ Despite the garish name and fiddly flash website, Dress2Kill – located on The Cut near Waterloo – specialises in classically cut suits of the type James Bond might be seen wearing. Suits start at £249 and previous customers include Richard Branson.
Apsley of London
■ Apsley Tailors, located in Pall Mall, is no spring chicken, having been founded in 1889, but it is a less pricey alternative to Savile Row. Its tailors will come to your office to measure you and the quality is top notch. From £750 for a bespoke suit.