This exclusive Charlie Baker-Collingwood of Henry Herbert Tailors, London was conducted by Nicola Linza and Cristoffer Neljesjö in London, England during December 2010
Please describe yourself and why you started Henry Herbert Tailors?
I am a young London-living Englishman and I have always been fascinated by colour, shapes and sizes. I love watching the symmetry and precision in garments, which is why the world of tailoring was so attractive; you cannot beat the sharp edge of a well cut hour glass suit. I created Henry Herbert Tailors because I thought London deserved a new breed of tailors, offering an alternative character to the methodologies and attitudes of more traditional houses. It has been an attempt to bring traditional tailoring into the new century: respecting traditions, but serving them with an energetic and novel approach.
Who came up with the idea of a Savile Row Scooter service?
I came up with the idea in 2008. I have always been hugely impressed and fascinated by Savile Row but, like many others, found walking into some of the traditional tailors on the Row very intimidating. I began to wonder if you could reverse this relationship – instead of the customer coming to Savile Row, why not bring the Savile Row experience to the customer, at their convenience? And so the idea was born: a Savile Row by scooter service which can conveniently meet customers around the clock, wherever and whenever is good for them. At the same time, I wanted to maintain the high standards of English tailoring and as a result, all of our suits and shirts are made to the same exacting standards, using the finest English and Scottish cloths.
What are some of the most important questions a man can ask a tailor?
To enter the bespoke suit world can be an overwhelming experience. It shouldn’t be – it should be a luxurious indulgence that you enjoy. I always offer these top tips to guide customers through the potential of tailoring:
1. Visit as many tailors as you like. It is a relationship that must be comfortable for you.
2. Familiarise yourself with the different styles and choices available to you. Always ask if a tailor has a house style.
3. Be advised by a tailor, never pressured.
4. Have an idea of the colour and the cloth you are looking for. It will narrow down the vast selection available to you. You should expect your tailor to be patient and courteous.
5. It is your bespoke suit (or shirt). Remember there are no wrong answers, merely preferences.
6. A good tailor will comfort you, not condescend you.
7. Expect at least a couple of fittings and at least as many months to perfect your first order. If you don’t have this, ask your tailor why.
8. All good suits and shirts should be tailored locally to the tailor. He needs to be able to speak to his cutter, seamstress and craftsman and, if they are in another country, things can become difficult.
9. Find the budget that is right for you and make sure that the final prices are clearly given to you. Never be afraid to ask a tailor this, before you discuss anything else.
10. Enjoy wearing it – every handmade suit and shirt will have its own characteristics.
Would you please speak about the “Pick Your Cotton Carefully” campaign, as well as the significance of “Made in England?”
The textile and tailoring industry has enjoyed exceptional growth, but it is important that, as we grow, we remember the traditions of our tailoring heritage, as well as the raw materials that make up our suits and shirts. We must honour the traditions of tailoring because contemporary tailors have so much to learn from our forefathers and some of the finest methodologies can still be found on Savile Row and Jermyn Street today. It is important that we protect and preserve these traditions, but also to bring them into the 21st century. Similarly, every tailor is proud of his work and must be proud of his materials: campaigns such as Pick Your Cotton Carefully (and the Prince of Wales’ Campaign for Wool) ensures that we protect those who harvest and supply us with the raw materials that we need to make luxurious shirts and suits.
What is your vision for Henry Herbert Tailors; how do you want to develop the company?
Henry Herbert Tailors is still a young, but growing firm and has survived one of the worst economic climates for several generations. This was a good test of the business model and strengthened my determination that, no matter how big or small a business may be and no matter how good or bad the economic climate, excellent customer service (and, of course, excellent fitting garments) is fundamental. A tailor’s relationship with every customer is the most important factor in the tailoring world. They can make or break you, help you sink or swim and clients will always be grateful for the tailor who goes the extra mile. Therefore, the development priority for Henry Herbert Tailors is to build even better relationships with our existing customers over the next few years, and from then on, go from strength to strength.
Henry Herbert Tailors – http://www.henryherbert.com/
The above interview with Charlie Baker-Collingwood 2010 © Manner of Man Magazine/Welldressed. All rights reserved. Reproduction is strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher.