Gieves & Hawkes has always had a good bespoke operation, and surprisingly large on site, but it gets relatively little press. A definite bonus has been Davide Taub, who joined from Maurice Sedwell recently to become co-head cutter alongside Lee Webb.
Davide is an artist, a trained architect and a truly original cutter. (Check out his tulip overcoat.) Lee is more conservative but technically excellent, and both trained as tailors before they were cutters, which gives them a particular view on the tailoring process. Since Davide joined there have been a few obvious changes, such as the removal of the auto-padding machine. It was never used much, but getting rid of it was symbolic. Everything will now be done by hand.
Between them, Davide and Lee have also been developing a new style for their jackets. Not a house style, as this will never be something that is a default setting, let alone thrust upon customers, but a new and individual cut of jacket that should help to give an identity to the Gieves operation.
One of its identifying features is a soft shoulder, using a pre-made pad but cut down by hand to thin out the neck area, giving a subtle kick at the shoulder. Not a pagoda shoulder by any means, but something that suggests breadth in the same way as a Cifonelli roped sleevehead.
The chest is cut close, with room at the front but very little at the side, leading to a long line down the side of the jacket. The canvas is darted a lot to push the chest forward into that shape. “When I started I used to cut all my jackets skin tight,” says Davide. “I’ve changed my mind on that, but I still think it’s very flattering to have it close under the arm, up into that small armhole.”
Lastly, the sleeve is quite narrow but with a rather rounded sleevehead. Sometimes a slim sleeve can create a point in the sleevehead, which makes the piece seem two-dimensional, as if only conceived on paper.
Hopefully the imagery here gets across some of these aspects. Something in me also really likes the mix of brass and horn buttons on the sleeve, but I can see myself changing my mind on that in two months. Perhaps just on a one-button (brass) navy blazer?
There are also positive developments with Gieves ready to wear, finally. Jason Basmajian, ex-Brioni, is the new creative director and ran me through his plans recently. The quality of the suiting will be much higher and there are some nice design aspects already in the Autumn/Winter 2013 collection – such as side tabs on the trousers that sit on the seam rather than the waistband, which I prefer. Look out for nice belted overcoats and shawl-collared waistcoats on the suits as well.