What are you wearing right now?
A Hiscock Harris Tweed blazer from my AW collection as it is very cold in London, paired with my sky blue and navy paisley scarf, which adds hints of cypress trees and peacock feathers to the mix, reminding me of sunnier climes.
Your tailoring style has been called everything from quirky and eclectic to rebellious – how do you define the Timothy Everest style?
I think the ‘house’ style of Timothy Everest tends to not be too prescriptive. As bespoke is all about the individual, we as a business encourage our clients to explore their own looks and try to emphasise the best parts of their personality through how we dress them. Sometimes this means the detail remains hidden, or we can push the styling to err more on the ‘edge’ side but in each case we dress the person rather than dress them in a specific fabric or cut. After all, bespoke is about taking the shape and creating the very best look we can for that individual.
You helped inspire the new bespoke movement in the 1990s, breaking the mold on the rather stuffy image of the Savile Row suit – do you still consider your style to be ground-breaking or are there now ‘youngsters’ nipping at your heals?
What I love about bespoke tailoring is that it never goes out of fashion (in fact we are seeing a huge demand for our services from both men and women at present) and there are always new directions to take it in. What I have done in my career is to address preconceived notions of how tailoring should be approached and worn, but the actual skills of making a bespoke suit are not ground breaking, they are the same learned and practiced skills that have been making beautiful suits in London for centuries. In this sense, I don’t see it being replaced because British bespoke tailoring is unrivalled and the envy of the world.
It is very rewarding to see more young designers looking to work with bespoke tailoring because it is something I have always championed, and I think makes the industry exciting and vibrant. I have lots of young apprentices working with me at all times and it’s fascinating to see them apply their own generation’s stamp to bespoke.
You worked under Savile Row tailor Tommy Nutter, who was known to start rumors about himself in order to keep his name in the papers. How do you handle the celebrity status now bestowed on tailors?
Well as that anecdote proves I think you court it as much as you want to. Working with Tommy was certainly good fodder for anecdotes even now, though. He certainly understood how to get the PR machine going! I’m lucky these days in that my name is now known and sometimes I feel I’m better known in Asia and the USA than on home grown soil due to our international reputation.
What impressions did you take from men’s tailoring during your recent visit to Hong Kong? What are we not doing enough?
Hong Kong is always very inspiring to visit and one of my favourite places. There is a braveness and individuality, which makes menswear very exciting. I also love the appreciation the Asian market has for tailoring in general; it’s amazing how much energy and interest they have in dressing well, and it always inspires me.
Hong Kong wardrobes are pint-sized – what four suits should every Hong Kong gentleman possess?
I think the local Hong Kong physique would best suit a 1960s slim cut block similar to the cut for the new TE + Superdry HK collection. Unlike the UK, Tweed is not a good choice in Hong Kong due to the weather. I recommend for expats a good traditional English milled cloth in a traditional English pattern such as a glen plaid, prince of Wales or a simple pick and pick. In the very warm months a lightweight fresco, again English milled, is amazingly porous so very breathable but will always keep its shape.
Fashion trends have a habit of returning again and again – what past trends are you seeing return to men’s suits?
Double breasted suits have been a trademark of mine and Tommy Nutter’s and this is a shape that was largely neglected for a few years but now is making a come back. I’m also seeing a younger client base that are looking for tailoring designs that work for office but also for going out straight after work. Also a lot of pieces we have created recently are for specific ‘formal’ occasions; in particular we have designed a lot of smoking jackets for clients at the tail end of 2013.
What fabrics are we underutilizing or under appreciated in men’s fashion?
It’s amazing how little the clients who come into see us know about the fabrics that will work for them. The difference between what a Brit will get from a suit made in a 12-14oz fabric as opposed to a more Italian 11oz suit is incredible. We use barathea a lot presently as this looks stylish but also performs well. Natural fibres such as Donegal or Harris Tweeds are also great for winter and let the body breathe but keep the wearer warm. There are also lots of new technological advances in fabrics for suiting with Lumatwill for the traditional cyclist to an amazing new woven denim we used recently, all of which offer additional properties for the wearer. I send my design team to Paris every season to keep an eye out for interesting new developments and textiles we can work with.
You designed suits for the latest James Bond movie – was there a particular favourite?
Yes, we worked with the wardrobe team under Jacqueline Durran for Skyfall. She was a pleasure to work with, and the brief was to help create a look that would support one of the key characters (Gareth Mallory played by Ralph Fiennes). As it turned out the bespoke process helped the actor to form his character as we did the fittings, and it was great to be a part of that process. I think the fact it was British tailoring inspired us so we opted for a double-breasted design that was cut to perfection.
What inspired your collaboration with Superdry?
Superdry is a great British brand with a youthful feel and it was a great opportunity to bring tailoring to a younger audience, and present it in a different way. The fusion of tailored jackets and a trademark Superdry T-shirt, or distressed pair of jeans has proven very popular, and sums up the versatility of a well cut jacket. We have developed a really simple range of jackets and a town coat that will appeal to different types of dressers. From the ‘Country Rebel’ to the ‘Superspy’ guys can easily identify a look and then the piece of tailoring associated with each.
Is it more important to change tailoring to suit the next generation, or instill in the next generation of suit wearers the traditions and values of bespoke tailoring?
I don’t think there should be any caveats on how a generation approaches tailoring. The value of bespoke tailoring is its unique nature and the fact that you can change any aspect to suit an individual’s taste. As long as people are not afraid of bespoke, it will evolve with the times as new generations add their own touches. Having said that, I think there will always be some traditionalists who want their three-piece classic British suit. We are also at the same time, as fashion picks up pace, seeing a slower fashion movement of people who are buying into the concept of ‘buy less, buy better’, which is also a more sustainable way to be.
What’s the next trend to watch out for in bespoke tailoring?
The advances in high performance fabrics are very exciting. Look out for more speciality suiting. Our cycling collections have been very popular, allowing cyclists to wear a suit that allows movement and for the wearer to arrive looking pristine. We are working on a collection specifically designed for the modern traveller. Featuring non-crease luxury fabrics and adaptations like passport pockets and ipad holders; it addresses how clothing is being worn by a modern audience. Layering and fine gauge knitwear will be coming through, too.
For more on Timothy Everest go to http://timothyeverest.co.uk