This suit is from Jose Maria Reilo, the second of the three Spanish tailors I commissioned from in 2014. The make is good, although there are one or two issues with the fit that I’ll come to in a moment.
The suit is green cotton gabardine – an interesting option for summer, and of course now is when bespoke customers should start thinking about summer styles. Guys buying ready-to-wear have a few more months to think about it.
Jose Maria is a lovely, self-effacing man, who founded his tailoring house in 1974. He doesn’t speak any English, but fortunately both times I visited a friend was able to translate. He works with his wife in a small atelier on Calle del Monte Esquinza, just off Plaza de Colon – new premises since I first, visited, back in 2012.
The three Spanish tailors took three different approaches to the fact that I was only visiting Madrid twice to have these pieces made. Langa cut a fitting straight out of the cloth, in order to have a fitting the same day as taking measurements; Calvo de Mora visited London in order to conduct one fitting; and Reillo took the more standard approach of cutting a first fitting out of waste cloth.
Those three approaches didn’t seem to have any bearing on the fit, with Calvo de Mora perhaps the best. I’ll cover the jacket and waistcoat I had made there next week.
As with all the Spanish tailors, the level of handwork on Reillo’s suit was very good: hand felling all around the lining; nice finishing on the change pocket on the trousers; smartly finished side-straps.
In common with Langa, however, there were also one or two places where the lines weren’t that accurate. In the image of the in-breast pocket above, for example, the corners of the lining where they turn to follow the pocket aren’t quite the same. The bottom is much smoother than the top. This may seem like a small thing, but it’s the kind of detail you get used to being bang-on with most Savile Row tailoring, to the point where you take it for granted.
The fit is good almost everywhere, as the images show to some extent. Cotton is not an easy cloth to work with, and Jose Maria has done very well.
The issue with cotton is not that it’s hard to tailor, but that the finished results rarely look as good as wool. You get big, hard folds, as you can see around the elbow here, for example. And although the fit through the waist on this suit is very good, the tiniest move in the body makes the whole side buckle.
I would praise Reillo’s cutting in almost every other respect, therefore – except along the shoulder seam. Here, for lightweight suits as this, he uses absolutely no padding – just a little wadding at the sleeve head. This is obviously light and comfortable, but there are wrinkles along the seam on both sides. It is characteristic of the difficulties of photographing these things that those wrinkles appear almost invisible in the image above, yet are more significant than any of the other creases.
I noticed this wrinkling on one or two other summer jackets, so it’s not just mine. It doesn’t seem to happen on heavier constructions (still light by English standards) however, so it is also just associated with this construction.
I’d like to repeat that elsewhere the fit was top-notch, with the trousers so good that I considered ordering more separate ones in the same cut. Elements of the style such as the lapel width and line were also really nice.
I’ll write a separate post on cotton suits in general, and this one as a summer option, later in the week.
Photography: Jack Lawson