Tuesday, 27 September 2011
English Cut and Thomas Mahon: made to measure
During a recent conversation with Thomas Mahon of English Cut, I was interested to hear about the made-to-measure service that he is launching in India. The tailors he has hired and trained are among those that suffered from the tsunami in south Asia. The video shows part of this process.
While this is a nice touch, what is more likely to be a priority for the sartorially inclined is how the suits are made. The answer is, entirely by hand. Everything from the padding of the chest to the insertion of the armholes – much of which you can see in the video.
The cutting, too. Tom, tailor Paul Griffith and India head Mahesh Ranakrishnan have spent a lot of time training the new recruits to cut in an English drape style: small armholes, soft shoulders and plenty of cloth in the chest. Same English cloths too – that’s a W Bill in the video.
The suits start at £1400 for a two-piece and are delivered in five to six weeks. Orders can be made with Tom up at the house in Cumbria or at his new home-away-from-home, 11 George Street (just around the top of Savile Row).
Now in theory there’s no difference between having your tailors based in India or Soho. As long as they’re good and require little management, the presumably less frequent visits are not an issue. Kilgour ran a service with its suits being partially made in China, saving hundreds on the final price. But bespoke customers might be more concerned about having the cutting done remotely. (Kilgour was cut in London.)
This is what makes the English Cut offering more made-to-measure than bespoke. Thomas has worked out a series of standard models and sizes in what he considers his cut, much as anyone does that puts their designs into large-scale manufacture. These 38, 40 and 42-inch patterns are then altered according to the measurements that are sent out from England.
This is the same process all made-to-measure companies use. Except that they then make the suit by machine, while English Cut will make it all by hand. Despite this difference, it’s good to see that Thomas is willing to call it made to measure, where some companies that make far inferior suits use the term bespoke. He is in good company: Ralph Lauren refuses to call his Purple Label made-to-measure service bespoke, despite the high quality and prices of the product. He has too much fondness for Savile Row.
Good luck to English Cut MTM. More details on Tom’s blog here.