For alterations to modern off-the-peg garments, or minor adjustments and repairs to old wardrobe favourites, I've been going to the same Soho tailor since the 1990s. Tony Phillips is an institution, with a business that has been established in the West End of London for almost half a century. In 1969, as an apprentice, aged 16, Phillips was learning his trade on Savile Row when the Beatles played on the rooftop of the Apple Records Building down the street, at number three. Later the same year, at a time when London was in the middle of a “youthquake”, the conscientious young tailor moved into a rented studio on Noel Street. “It was swinging for everyone else but I was down in the basement working,” he told me on my last visit.
Phillips is a master of making garments fit just so – be it one of his own made-to-measure men’s suits or an evening dress he has exactingly nipped and tucked. It’s not surprising he’s sought out by a star-studded clientele that includes Bill Nighy and David Beckham. “I’ve had some great clients over the years,” he declares, “and they always come back.” A series of framed photographs lining the walls is a testament to his loyal fanbase. I recently dropped by Noel Street with a pair of new silk palazzo pants in need of shortening. To my alarm, the entire building had been boarded up. Redevelopment throughout this once bohemian district of London is in full swing. Bereft and pondering the implications of being tailorless and too long in the trouser, I returned home. Fortunately, a quick search online revealed Tony the Soho Tailor’s Instagram feed – complete with snapshots of his most famous besuited customers – and details of his new premises around the corner in Berwick Street. The studio above the well-known fabric shop Borovick is the ideal location for him and he told me he is busier than ever. As usual, his workmanship was spot-on – and swift enough for me to pack my perfectly ankle-skimming trousers for a trip to Marrakech.