The Young Tailors Symposium – discussion

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Our Young Tailors Symposium last week in Florence - in the beautiful Stefano Bemer atelier - threw up some really interesting areas of discussion.

The six tailors all had rather different backgrounds: some trained in completely different fields before switching (Arnold Wong at WW Chan, who was previously an accountant); some came from families of tailors (Gianfrancesco Musella at Musella Dembech, below); and others studied related, artistic fields (Davide Taub at Gieves & Hawkes, who trained as an architect).

Gianfrancesco Musella Young Tailors Symposium
Gianfrancesco Musella

But at some point when they were young, each had a moment when they were inspired by tailoring.

Chad Park at B&Tailor in Seoul (below) told us how he had never thought about being a tailor until he had a suit made for a wedding. Then he was taken by the transformative power of it. Eithen Sweet, equally, had been inspired by the elegance of bespoke.

Chad Park of B&Tailor
Chad Park

Yet where most of us would want to buy and wear that tailoring - and perhaps others would want to design it - these guys all had a reaction where they wanted to take the suit apart, learn how it was made, and then be able to put it all back together. It was a practical, hands-on response.

One of my early questions was about the most difficult aspect of their training. Satoki Kawai of Sartoria Cresent (below)mentioned the repetitiveness of gaining hand-speed in sewing, as they all did, but then also said how hard it was to stay with the profession over years of working on his own - of wanting to work on Savile Row but ending up in Milan, or having to do RTW and MTM tailoring at first in a factory in Japan.

Satoki Kawaii of Sartoria Cresent
Simon Crompton, Satoki Kawaii and Davide Taub

We also discussed - more significantly - how their approaches to tailoring differed from what they saw of the previous generation.

Everyone agreed that the older generation saw tailoring as a pure craft, as something workaday and not necessarily creative. This was in part a result of tailoring's demise; cutters used to be creative, back when most men had suits made, and their tailor was a key source of advice and even fashion insight.

For a young tailor to succeed today, then, he must rediscover that role and be aware of fashions - even if he doesn't bow to them. He needs to be aware of a customer's ready-to-wear alternatives, and most importantly his contemporary lifestyle.

Arnold Wong of WW Chan
Arnold Wong

This led onto questions about how the tailors' friends and families saw their work. For most, friends were entirely ignorant of bespoke and how it worked - so they were surprised at first and then over time, more and more interested.

Davide and Eithen mentioned that friends assume their work is more glamorous than it is, given they wear fine clothes and occasionally work with celebrities. And Satoki and Arnold (above) said that their families frowned rather on tailoring as a profession, but were slowly coming round.

Nicolas Guilbaud of Holland & Sherry
Nicolas Guilbaud of Holland & Sherry

We also threw in some short, specific questions - like what's your favourite cloth (two answers for mohair, two for flannel, very little worsted).

And then fittingly, the last question from the audience concerned the future of bespoke and each tailor's ambition for it. To general agreement, Davide answered: "I came into this business, like a lot of people, to try and perpetuate it. All I would want is to be able to keep the craft and the knowledge alive."

140A9461Benedikt Shibumi140A0272140A0278Jean-Baptiste Rousseuw

Photography: Jamie Ferguson @jkf_man

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Myung Gomis

I’d love to hear more about each artisans vision for work and the industry in the future. It’s not just enough to keep it alive~ It must grow and expand in order to thrive. Also were there any questions posted on how technology was is changing and evolving their craft? Today and going forward?

Jeffrey Lebowski

Ah, good to see old Butler present in a DB! A Stephen Hitchcock creation I assume?

rups

hi simon, any idea where davide taub from G&H got that dark green (?) paisley tie, or where I could find something like this? love old ties like this, as father used to wear them but are all lost now, dark paisleys in greens, reds, golds and browns, just cant find them anywhere these days!

also who is the gentleman second from the bottom in the brown sports coat? like this guys style very much!

Jerrell

Who called this contrived? I heartily enjoyed reading about the symposium, as well as the others you’ve arranged in the past.

Keep it coming Simon!

Canuck

RUPS, check out the Sam Hober site especially the Madder and Macclesfield print ties – they do have some paisley. I’ve purchased some ties from them in the past and found them well made from good quality fabric.

Gonzague Feltz

Did those tailors with a different initial background (accountant, architect,…) still had to complete the whole tailor training?