When spotted cycling about London town on his Swedish bike, stylish dandy Guy Hills will most likely be sporting a pair of plus-fours by Dashing Tweeds, the company he set up with textile designer Kirsty McDougall in 2006. Hills was working as a fashion photographer at the time, and developed a love of heritage fabrics and tailoring while shooting images for the book Savile Row: The Master Tailors of British Bespoke. Their London studio began creating “modern urban tweeds” and has since built up made-to-measure, bespoke and ready-to-wear menswear offerings with a cult-like following.
The latest spin on its “tweeds with a twist”, however, is aimed at women, with a new service that launches in September. “It’s amazing how many variables you can change,” says Holly Pressdee, who studied woven textiles at Chelsea College of Art before joining Dashing Tweeds in 2010, and is now heading up the womenswear department.
The fabrics – which use cotton, silk and high-tech fibres as well as wool, taking them beyond the boundaries of traditional tweed – present myriad options. Two new cloth collections are produced each year to “absorb the zeitgeist”, with samples being woven in-house before being sent to mills in Scotland and other parts of the UK for production. The clothing, meanwhile, can be entirely bespoke (from £2,000 for a jacket; £800 for trousers or a skirt) or made to measure from “block patterns” (jackets, from £925; coats, from £1,375; trousers, from £525; and skirts, from £525), which allow for alterations to the fit, length, collar and cuff style, pockets, stitching, lining and buttons.
Pressdee is not only knowledgeable but extremely practical, as I discovered when she recently measured me for a coat at the Dashing Tweeds showroom in Marylebone. I wanted a sharp, lightweight, shortish design for early autumn. Together we came up with a single-breasted coat in the blue-black, zigzag New Navy Peak fabric – a 12oz fine merino wool – with three black horn buttons, notch lapel, a classic centre vent, turn-back cuffs, a steel-grey lining and patch pockets big enough to fit my phone.
The new designs are produced by a team of tailors in the Czech Republic – although all bespoke pieces are tailored in London – and delivered within six weeks for a final fitting.