January 29 2010
Lucia van der Post
There’s a new suit maker on the block. Though he has dubbed his shop Terence Trout, the man behind it is actually named Stephen Williams. For several years he’s been a little-known secret, as his telephone number was passed around a select group of fans and he was quietly making suits for some of the slickest dressers around. David Beckham is a fan, as are a host of Premier League footballers, as well as singer George Michael and Duncan Bannatyne and James Caan of Dragons’ Den fame.
His parents worked in the wool industry, where he developed his interest in cloth, and he learned some of his trade working at Calvin Klein, Armani and William Hunt. He also modelled for some years, which he thinks gave him a great feel for what works in a suit and what doesn’t. Just recently he has opened up a shop in London’s Mayfair so that others outside this select, insider circle could get to understand his particular take on that staple of the man’s wardrobe – the suit.
Now it goes without saying that if you’re going to dress the sort of people who can afford to go to any bespoke maker of suits in the world, you’ve got to have the finest cloths and modern materials, as well as the usual raft of tailoring skills such as cutting, designing and stitching. But on top of that, what does he do that’s different?
Mostly he seems to have found a way of adding a contemporary edge to what is a fundamentally classic line. His shop – all funky white and red – sends out a message loud and clear that here is something a bit different from the usual Savile Row line. He gives a bit more definition to the waist, cuts a slightly higher lapel (this, it seems, lengthens the body), gives his jackets sharp, diagonally-cut pockets (again to give a sleeker look), adds cavalry-cut trousers (which give a neater line where the trouser meets the shoe) and adds lots of little details such as covered buttons, funky linings and what he calls “signature” (ie fancy or contrasting) collars, mostly on such things as coats.
The biggest hit of all, though, seems to be the inner pocket provided for the iPod, allowing it and all its attendant wires to be stowed safely out of sight. He also offers all his designs in a special travel-friendly fabric which doesn’t crease or stain. He promises that whether you’re David Beckham or Joe Bloggs, it’s all the same to him – he will be the one measuring you up and offering advice. His ready-made suits are £795 for a two-piece, £895 for a three-piece, and the bespoke ones range between £1,200 and £1,400. Coming up next – bespoke suits for women.
As for the Terence Trout name: apparently it came from one of his father’s customers, whose elegance so impressed the young Stephen Williams that years later he could think of no other name that summed up what he wanted to achieve.