What does a craftsman do when he can’t reach his customer? The shutdown of all non-essential UK businesses has stopped many craft-led brands from functioning, and London’s bespoke tailors, who rely on face-to-face consultations, are among those hit. As is often the case, however, brands get most creative when times are tough – and these three tailors are finding smart solutions to the problem of sizing up clients with closed shops.
Cad & The Dandy
One of Savile Row’s largest bespoke tailors, with outposts in New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Stockholm, Cad & The Dandy has been the fastest house on the Row to react to the closure of its stores. “There are a number of things we can do for both new and existing customers,” says co-founder James Sleater. “First up, we are offering virtual fittings, whereby we size up a customer over a video conference call and use basic formulas to assess their figure. This then allows us to make a toile or ‘fitting suit’ that either we dispatch to customers to try on during a second video conference or we hold onto until lockdown is lifted. This, says Sleater, enables the house to fine-tune the suit’s fit remotely before making the final garment. “We also digitise all our patterns and hold them in the Cloud, so we don’t run the risk of paper patterns getting locked away in closed stores.”cadandthedandy.co.uk
Benson & Clegg
A few streets away on Piccadilly Arcade, the team at Benson & Clegg, a bespoke tailor founded in 1937, has also started offering fittings and consultations via video calls. “I send clients links to suggested fabrics online,” explains head cutter Oliver Cross, “and we can talk through fabrics and explore the design of a garment. We’ll even send sketches or reference images for new garments to customers so they can do some wardrobe planning remotely.” Off the back of this initial consultation, a toile suit can be made without needing to have a face-to-face fitting. Cross cuts with no small amount of flair, and is happy to make anything from a soft-tailored sports coat to a structured power suit. bensonandclegg.com
West London tailor Edward Sexton might have closed his studio, but the team are working from home to keep orders on track, and creative director Dominic Sebag-Montefiore and cutter Peter Harvard are communicating with clients through apps like Zoom and FaceTime. “We’re doing a lot of initial consultations online,” says Sebag-Montefiore, “and we can sit with clients on FaceTime and flick through fabric options, before shipping them samples. We also have a full range of fitting garments, both for tailoring and our bespoke shirts, which we use to assess a customer’s fit.” These are sent to clients to try on and formulate a pattern following a video consultation. “We’d rather be greeting our clients in the flesh, of course, but we can still cut them a suit with the technology that’s available to us today.” edwardsexton.co.uk