Local UK tailors: Controlled crowdsourcing

Friday, July 10th 2020
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Readers have commented fairly regularly that it would be good to include more local UK tailors on Permanent Style. 

I’ve generally been resistant, largely because those tailors would be relevant to only a small number of people. As they tend not to travel, only around 1% of readers would have easy access to each (depending on the part of the country). 

UK tailors also don’t vary much in style, unlike the different parts of Italy. If they are at a decent quality level, they have usually trained on or around Savile Row, and then moved out. Their main attraction is price: and we’ve covered some very cheap bespoke in London, such as Prologue or Graham Browne. 

Lying behind all of this, though, is the fact that if I’m going to cover a tailor, I want to cover them properly. And that means visiting, interviewing, usually having something made. It’s a lot of time and effort - and a full post of coverage - for something relevant to such a small number of people. 

However, I was recently convinced to try something different. To try and use the size of the Permanent Style readership to build up a different kind of recommendation. Consistent, controlled crowdsourcing. 

So this is the plan. I am asking all readers with experience of a UK tailor outside London, to describe that experience in the comments below. 

I will then extract the information from those comments, to create a list that will gradually build up, in the lower half of this article. 

But - and it is a big but (insert joke here) - those recommendations from readers must follow certain rules and include certain information. Otherwise this is no better than a random forum thread. 

The rules are: 

  • Only bespoke tailors. Defined as creating a unique paper pattern, developed over several fittings; and padding the chest and lapel by hand.
  • Only personal experience. We don’t want any hearsay, or second-hand information. Only recommend the tailor, and state they are bespoke, if you know personally that they meet the criteria.
  • Comprehensive information. Please describe what you’ve had made, if anything; what your experience was like; any observations on style, fit and quality; and include or link to information on prices, background and training.

Only recommendations meeting all these rules will be added to the list of tailors. That way we can build up a reliable resource for bespoke consumers around the UK. 

Please mention all the information below, as far as you can.

I will keep this article updated over time - so anyone that brings this subject up again will be directed here, and I will add any new tailors to the list when new comments are posted. 

Let’s see how this works out. If it proves successful, we can try it in other parts of the world as well. 

 

Tailors:

 

TERRITO TAILORING

Location: Bristol

Contact: territotailoring.co.uk

Bespoke/MTM/RTW: Bespoke, alterations

Testimonial: "Territo Tailoring in Bristol...have a long history and offer a fully bespoke bench made garment. I have never had a fully bespoke garment made by them but have used them for alterations and witnessed first hand their bespoke work."

 

STEWART CHRISTIE

Location: Edinburgh

Contact: www.stewartchristie.com

Testimonial: "A fairly traditional establishment, who also do alterations work. I had a velvet doublet made (quite unique piece for Scottish formalwear). They did a good job, needs to be bespoke as v close fitting"

 

SOUSTER & HICKS

Location: Woburn

Contact: www.sousterandhicks.com

Price: From £2800 for a two-piece suit

Testimonial: "Geoff has been in the business for, now, 50 years, running his company, Souster & Hicks. His wife is a ladies tailor and they were training their two sons into the business as well. The suits Geoff made for me were excellent, fully bespoke with plenty of the handwork you would expect, and made by his team on the premises. When I knew him he was based in Dunstable, but he now operates from Woburn. I understand he recently made the blazer worn by Capt. Tom Moore for his 100th birthday celebration, all by eye with no measurements."

 

DES MERRION

Location: Leeds

Contact: www.desmerrion.com

Price: From £2800 for a two-piece suit

Testimonial: "I would like to highlight a tailor called Des Merrion, based in Leeds. He has made many garments for me over the years, all bespoke in its purest form, and the quality of the suits he produces is as good as anything I have seen in London or Paris. There is a twist, however, which is that Des carries out the whole process from measuring to delivering the finished garment himself. I have never met any other tailor who is the only person to touch a garment from beginning to end."

 

REDMAYNE 1860

Location: Cumbria

Contact: redmayne1860.com

Cutter: Tom Mahon

Price at time of commission: £3,000 for bespoke odd jacket and trousers

Testimonial: "Mr. Mahon, being ex-Anderson & Sheppard, cuts in the Scholte/English drape style. He later founded English Cut before moving on to be head cutter at Redmayne based in Cumbria. The style is classic Anderson with soft volume through the chest and natural shoulders. It is a very comfortable jacket and can be worn without thought despite the weight of the 13 oz high twist cloth. The finish is standard, with, for example, in-breast pockets cut into the lining. The trousers are classically cut, being more voluminous than other tailors I use, but no less comfortable than the jacket. Again, the finish here is standard. The fit is good, and at least at the time of the commission, the value was also good. He is an affable and unpretentious man."

 

MARK PURCELL

Location: Birmingham

Contact: www.markpurcell.co.uk

Cutter: Mark Purcell

Testimonial: "I’ve had 12 pair of trouser made by Mark over the past 10 years , 2 suits and 3 jackets. Being of the ‘mod’ leanings I like my suits to be ‘my’ suits same with a trouser, every time I use Mark he’s bang on the button (no pun). I’ve shown him a pic in an old tailor magazine and he nailed it."

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David G

A long overdue initiative; let’s hope it works.

One thing I don’t understand though Simon is your assumption that regional tailors are only going to attract local custom and therefore have a very limited “audience” of PS readers. I am sure anyone based in or north of Birmingham would be happy to travel to Leeds or Manchester or Carlisle instead of going into London, to get a bespoke suit of equal quality to those from the Row, and make a sizeable saving into the bargain.

Or am I missing something?

darryl

Great idea, could be a really useful resource for us rural dwellers.

Jonny

Hi Simon,

Just a curious question about the rules. I remember a long time ago you writing that Henry Poole (I think) don’t pad the lapels by hand. How come you’ve decided that hand padded lapels are a pre-requisite for making the list?

I don’t mean this with any kind of snotty attitude, just genuine curiosity as I believe the Poole article is very old now, so maybe your view has changed on this?

Jonny

Ah, interesting. Just a FYI, I think one of your old articles ‘Different ways to pad the chest of a suit’ says that Poole do the lapels by machine, unless I’m misunderstanding.

Stephan

Dear Simon, if I may jump in in the recent post about local tailors and local clients. I do live in Switzerland and I am a client of Leeds based Des Merrion. I have visited him on several occasions for all necessary steps from measuring, creating the pattern, selection of the cloth, various fittings and the pickup (insted of shipping). The level of customer experience with Des is incomparable to any bespoke experience I had ever made before (including S.R. based tailors). Since I do live a few hundred miles away for the place where my suit has been crafted, Des sent me regular picture updates on how it is coming togehter and what the next steps are. In addition, the insight and advice on styles and fitting have led to some incredible interesting discussions on the spot and have been greatly appreciated. All this does only describe his extreme high level of professionalism and knowledge. Apart form that he’s an extremely hospitable chap. For the next suit I will definitely walk, drive or fly the 700 mils again. Simply, one of a kind.

Frank Shattuck

For a time Poole did lapels by machine. But Jeffery Duddich. shamed them into doing by hand. But that’s was years back. Who knows now.

Frank Shattuck

Simon, the word bespoke has been diluted with mediocrity as most things today. A pizza can be bespoke. “Benchmade” still has integrity. Benchmade coats must have hand rolled lapels and a hand made , individuality cut canvas. And much more. I use the phrase “PureBench” now.

CDBP

I would like to turn Jonny’s question into a statement : I think the hand padding is “a bridge too far”. Some of this becomes very pedantic and not linked to any noticeable part of the fit, wear or appearance of the suit over time. Clearly these should not be glued / fused suits ! The very fact that the matter is ambiguous related to Poole is very telling. Also being a client of a tailor, or any artisan, or a restaurant for that matter, doesn’t mean one can or should pry into every aspect of their craft. I appreciate your role is to do so Simon, and we value you for it. You are our agent, as it were. The crowd sourcing idea may have a weakness that it makes satisfied customers pry into aspects of “how their dinner was made” which might make both parties a tad uncomfortable. People may also have erratic judgments. Let’s see how it goes ! 🙂

Frank Shattuck

Dear Friend, the difference between a hand rolled lapel and a machine ( factory) rolled lapel is day and night. Trust me.

Louis

Hi Simon, I think this is a really exciting idea and a chance to perhaps boost the industry more widely rather than just focusing at the top end. It seems like a very generous and important thing to extend the knowledge and enthusiasm to smaller provincial tailors as they will be just as key to keeping the industry and craft alive as the big tailoring houses. On that basis I would like to put forward Territo Tailoring in Bristol. They have a long history and offer a fully bespoke bench made garment. I have never had a fully bespoke garment made by them but have used them for alterations and witnessed first hand their bespoke work. I have included a link below to both their website and Instagram. I hope this meats the criteria you set out above. I really believe they should be included in this list.

http://territotailoring.co.uk/

https://www.instagram.com/territotailoring/

I look forward to reading about all the other nominations.

Frank Shattuck

Territo is an authentic father and son shop.

Anonymous

Stewart Christie – Edinburgh
A fairly traditional establishment, who also do alterations work. I had a velvet doublet made (quite unique piece for Scottish formalwear). They did a good job, needs to be bespoke as v close fitting.

Anonymous

Another quick Q – do they need to be local tailors (ie outside of London?). There are a fair few young up & coming tailors in London who might be of interest (Paley Mundy, Montague Ede, Bobrik & Lawton…). Please can you do an article / interview with some of these?

Anonymous

Awesome, look forward to pieces on young guns

Ben

Hi Simon – I appreciate the idea, even though I am one of the 45% of your U.K. readership living in London. For many of your readership, I suspect bespoke is a luxury for which they would be willing to travel if the travelling made it slightly more affordable. I know I certainly do – which leads me on to my point. Why limit it to the U.K.? I have my suits made in H.K.. For me, this makes sense because I have a family connection (I was born there and my family still live there), so I profit from a knowledge of local tailors (and a relationship with my tailor) from when I was living in H.K.. However, many might travel there enough to buy bespoke well, but not enough to build up a knowledge of the market. I know you have a H.K. shopping guide and you have done reviews of some H.K. tailors and shops, but you are really just scratching the surface.

Chancellor

I think focusing on UK tailors for now makes sense. I suggest though that if this experiment proves useful, there may be merit to do similar crowdsourcing exercises for other regions of the world.

It may also be nice to do similar exercises for shoes as well (perhaps just a single for the globe given there seem to be fewer shoemakers).

Anonymous

Can I put out a request for someone to review Steed??

Burt

Good initiative. As you have travelled to the US, Paris, Madrid, Stockholm etc. I find it difficult to understand your objections. True, I remember one younger SR cutter not talking too flattering about local British tailors: “There’s nothing that sets them apart.”
From a mere journalistic point of view it’s an interesting story. How have these tailors managed to survive? What has made them go on and pass on the craft to younger cutters (that stay in the house), how’s the cut & make, who are their customers? If I remember right, one of them in the north or in Scotland once won the golden shears (albeit in the 60ies somewhere). These tailors must have their own story. Not sure what’s the point of comparing them to SR, esp. if you look at how volatile SR is… quite a few good young tailors leaving SR houses disappointed after just a couple of years, and why is that?

Nick B

Tailor: Redmayne 1860
https://redmayne1860.com/pages/about
Location: Cumbria
Cutter: Tom Mahon
Commission: Bespoke odd jacket and trousers
Price at time of Commission: 3,000 GBP for the set

Mr. Mahon, being ex-Anderson & Sheppard, cuts in the Scholte / English Drape style. He later founded English Cut before moving on to head cutter at Redmayne based in Cubria. The style is classic Anderson with soft volume through the chest and natural shoulders. It is a very comfortable jacket and can be worn without thought despite the weight of the 13 oz high twist cloth. The finish is standard, with, for example, in-breast pockets cut into the lining. The trousers are classically cut, being more voluminous than other tailors I use, but no less comfortable than the jacket. Again, the finish here is standard. The fit is good, and at least at the time of the commission, the value was also good. He is an affable and unpretentious man.

Benjamin Abraham

I’d love to hear about experiences with Tom Mahon at Redmayne 1860 and bespoke experience with Steed. They seem to be quite popular in the US, they’re both pretty popular as they travel here quite often. I’d love to hear how their soft tailoring styles are similar to and different than Anderson & Sheppard and Stephen Hitchcock.

While not a bespoke experience, I had a MTM blazer done by Steed this year in a Navy Holland & Sherry 13oz hopsack. It was a straight finished without a fitting so the jacket has some minor issues that need to be altered. I ordered in a single button, slated pocket with ticket pocket. If I were to do it again I would have asked for a more standard 2 button, straight pocket look, which I think suits that soft drape style more. I’m also set up to meet with Tom Mahon in New York in September. From what I can see online, his cut has a bit more structure and sharpness in the shoulder which I might prefer. Fingers crossed, that’ll happen.

-B.A, New York

Anonymous

Tom travels to London weekly to see clients. The pricing is slightly out of date; starts at 33250 + VAT now for 2 piece.

Anonymous

Correct. Should be a £ sign!!

Mark Stevens

Hello

I would like to highlight a tailor called Des Merrion, based in Leeds. He has made many garments for me over the years, all bespoke in its purest form, and the quality of the suits he produces is as good as anything I have seen in London or Paris.

There is a twist, however, which is that Des carries out the whole process from measuring to delivering the finished garment himself. I have never met any other tailor who is the only person to touch a garment from beginning to end.

He also offers amazing value; a bespoke 2 piece starts at 2800 GBP. He should definitely be on your list.

Richard N

Another vote for Des. He really is a true craftsman.

Nick Inkster

I would add my name to the list of those speaking favourably of Des Merrion. In addition, I would definitely counsel your readers to consider Edwin deBoise, another real craftsman (along with his son!), and also Geoff Souster. Whilst Geoff hasn’t made anything for me since the 80’s, he is another who should be in the ranks of this collection.

Nick Inkster

Yes of course.

Geoff has been in the business for, now, 50 years, running his company , Souster&Hicks. His wife is a ladies tailor and they were training their two sons into the business as well.

The suits Geoff made for me were excellent, fully bespoke with plenty of the handwork you would expect, and made by his team on the premises.

When I knew him he was based in Dunstable, but he now operates from Woburn. I understand he recently made the blazer worn by Capt. Tom Moore for his 100th birthday celebration, all by eye with no measurements.

Looking at his website just now it appears he offers bespoke from £2800.00

Ross W

I too would like to recommend Des. He recently made me a Harris Tweed sport coat that I’m very happy with.

Robin

I’m one who requested this but given the condition of handwork think it’s going to be difficult one.
The conditions set pretty mean we’re looking for Savile Row outside of Savile Row .
A consequence of this is that you still get the SR price tag .
In which case why not just go to the more established SR.

All that said I look forward to the ‘nominees’.

Might I recommend another on MTM ?

Eric Jarrard

Hi Simon,
Appreciate this initiative. When I travel to the UK, I often try to fit in other trips, so this is useful for me.

Along with the Anonymous comment about other London shops. If you do put that crowd-sourced post together, I’d happily add my largely good experience with Clive at Sims & Macdonald.

StuartR

Hi
A shout out for McNair Shirts (https://mcnairshirts.com/) who make made to measure mountain shirts/ overshirts and “shackets”; principally from locally woven/ spun and dyed merino and corduroy. I realise not tailoring as such, but I hope it’s an appropriate thread.

I have a heavyweight Moorland Shirt in bark corduroy and for £350 or so it is a remarkable piece of clothing. Fit is superb and it functions so well as a Safari for cooler weather.
https://mcnairshirts.com/product/mens-plasmadry-heavyweight-corduroy-moorland-shirt-made-to-measure/

Stuart

Sarah J.

I’ve personally used Des since 2013 and have had several bespoke coats made, and one pair of jeans. The hand finishing on my coats is superb. Granted, my jeans are more or less machined out, but are an excellent fit and very high quality with clean lines. Try Des.

Chris Tinkler

Hello Simon,
Des Merrion has made three outfits for me, two suits and one (tweed) jacket and trouser combination and I can confirm that he meets your criteria for bespoke ….. and then some.
Being a one man band, you do have to wait a while but I always find him to be not only professional in his dealings but also very friendly.
He’s also good with “gentle” advice when you may be making a bad decision.
Finally, you mentioned only serving a local area. I know Des does travel so this is less of an issue for him.
He always talks to you for a while first, to try and get an assessment of who you are and what you want before going into the details, so fits my criteria for a tailor who tries to make yo uwhat you really want.

Chris Tinkler

Sorry I forgot to add that Des no longer works in Leeds but in Pontefract. If you’re using satnav, it goes slightly awry at the last minute, so ask for directions

Fabian

This is an excellent initiative.

I have recently worked with Des Merrion and can only highly recommend. He is very client-focused and professional. He provides excellent guidance on garments, fit and texture and the finished product speaks for itself. I work in a German bank and the quality of the suits is clearly visible and stands out.

Despite now being based in Germany, I am now waiting for my third suit to be couriered over and hope to continue to work with Des going forward. I can only recommend getting in touch with him if you are interested in bespoke suits etc.

iain

Price:£1500 to £3500.

Location: Pontefract.

have had a 3 piece suit (Full Bespoke) and 2 jackets (sports jacket and Double Breasted Suit Jacket) created by Desmond Merrion, excellent workmanship and attention to detail combine to craft a garment to your exact specification and fit. An enjoyable experience from start to finish and willing to fit around your schedule. I highly recommend Desmond Merrion to anyone looking for high quality bespoke tailoring.

Martin Taylor-Reid

Hello Simon,
Des Merrion has made numerous outfits for me, four suits and one (tweed) suit and I can confirm that he meets your criteria for bespoke ….. and then some.
I always find him to be not only professional in his dealings but also very friendly. He’s also good with “gentle” advice when you may be making a bad decision.

He always talks to you for a while first, to try and get an assessment of who you are and what you want before going into the details, so fits my criteria for a tailor who tries to make yo uwhat you really want.

A great tailor and a humble person!

Oliver Williams

I too would also like to recommend Desmond, I was initially drawn to Des because not only does he do the cutting and fitting, he actually also fully makes every single piece himself. That’s quite unique, was rare 50 years ago, and practically unheard of in today’s tailoring world don’t you think Simon ? I’ve used Des for a quite a while now. He always strikes me as pretty straightforward … and very capable. My last piece was a grey 13oz worsted sharkskin, cloth was from Dugdales. Certainly as good quality and fit wise as what I’ve seen coming from several houses on The Row.

SW

As a Canadian, our options for Bespoke menswear, are certainly few and far between. Thankfully, after residing in northern England for a time, I became acquainted with Des Merrion and his work. He is a straight talker, work is meticulous, and knows his trade to the utmost degree. I certainly look forward to garments commissioned in the future.

Allan David

Hailing from Canada, I relocated to Leeds specifically to work and train along side Desmond Merrion. Having personally worked in Desmond’s shop for approximately 2 years I can safely say that he is one of the last true cut and make tailors left. Every step is carried out by him and to the highest standard. There are no compromises on quality. On top of that he is an individual of great integrity. I can’t speak highly enough, and if you’re looking for exceptional value and top notch quality he is your man.

Chris Tinkler

Hi Allan,
I hope you’re well. The lovely shirts you made for me (when you were with Des) are still doing fine.
Best regards

Allan David

Good to hear from you Chris! Glad the shirts are serving you well. All the best.

Lindsay Eric McKee

I would like to add that as I am planning to venture into bespoke at some stage soon, I am making a shortlist of tailors that I have contacted…both Savile Row and ” off savile Row” and indeed regional, including some of the above aformentioned tailers in this post.
The one concern that I almost overlooked is aftercare.
I will be making sure that any tailoring establishment I finally choose has some kind of decent aftercare. It may be elaborate or a basic repair, pressing or cleaning service…either in house or off the premises.
I will not be engaging with a tailoring establishment that does not offer any form of aftercare and I wish to highlight this for the benefit of others.
Many thanks
Lindsay

Guy Redwood

I commissioned Des Merrion, in Leeds, to make a jacket in 2017 out of a pin striped Harris Tweed I found in his fabric books. I love pin stripes and to blend that formality with the ruggedness of Harris Tweed makes it a jacket for all occasions. The thing that stands out most is the fit of the jacket – it just hangs so well on me, everything is shaped to feel good and also look good. When I put my other jackets on they just don’t feel right. The pattern was completely bespoke, which he’s stored for future jackets. I spent a lot of time choosing a lining, there was a huge selection. Des emailed me photos of the process, as it was made. I was overwhelmed by the options initially as I could have anything, with it being fully bespoke. Des advised me on everything, gently, like the strong pockets for my phone and keys that won’t deform with the extra weight. Straight forward service with no gimmicks. All his effort goes into the garment. Best piece of clothing I’ve ever owned. https://www.instagram.com/p/BbcEgCqFWuK/

Joel

Hi Simon, I’d like to see you try Alexandra Wood. Based outside of London in Bishop Stortford but does travel to London for London clients.

Tony Barbados

I’m based in Birmingham and there is only one bespoke tailor I use Mark Purcell.
http://www.markpurcell.co.uk
I’ve had 12 pair of trouser made by Mark over the past 10 years , 2 suits and 3 jackets.
Being of the ‘mod’ leanings I like my suits to be ‘my’ suits same with a trouser , everytime I use Mark he’s bang on the button (no pun)
I’ve shown him a pic in an old tailor magazine and he nailed it .