I’ve always felt myself very fortunate to have my tailor within walking distance. Few men today, particularly in the US, have that privilege. But my shirtmaker was always a tube ride away; until now.
A few weeks ago Turnbull & Asser began offering bespoke from its City branch, on Old Broad Street. Andrew Courtney has moved from the bespoke premises on Bury Street to manage the store and launch bespoke there. As well as shirts it will soon do bespoke ties and other goods offered in the West End. The same range of cloths will be available in both branches and you can order in one branch and collect in another.
Andrew will handle all the measuring. He has been at T&A for 15 years and certainly has the experience. In fact, he is also a master butcher and a tie cutter. Having been made redundant from the butchery trade 15 years ago, he plumped for tie cutting as an alternative craft. His father worked in textiles so he had some familiarity with it. From tie cutting he moved to stock management at Bury Street, and has been with T&A bespoke ever since.
The City branch of Turnbull & Asser has been open more than two years now, but its passing trade has suffered from the fact that panes of glass started falling out of the new office block next door. The mountains of scaffolding that were required to make repairs to the offices have rather shrouded T&A – even if the scaffolding panels are attractively painted to look like box hedge.
I do hope having bespoke leads to increased business on Old Broad Street. The branches of TM Lewin, Charles Tyrhitt et al are so ubiquitous in the area that a business man could forgivably confuse Turnbull & Asser with one of them. Which of course it is not; not by a long shot.
The window displays have been changed to include sewing machines and photography of the Gloucester factory, some taken by Andy Barnham during our visit two years ago. And there is to be a bespoke event shortly, where customers will be able to see both shirt and tie making in the store. Let’s hope these all help educate the City masses.