Angus Davies writes about his visit to Richard Smith, a bespoke tailor located in the heart of Manchester city centre.
It was serendipity, born of curiosity that led me to Richard Smith’s shop. In October 2011, I wrote of his advent to Manchester and his skills as a bespoke tailor. I promised a follow-up. So it was in October that the material for the next episode in my documentation of Richard’s work began as I visited his boutique to discuss having a suit made.
I presented myself. This was not an extravagance. Richard would cut it so that my expanding and sometimes diminishing dimensions could be accommodated. The masterpiece would be ready for Christmas.
Richard Smith – a reprise
Richard with his Armani links, his youth, vitality and creativity has brought bespoke tailoring to Manchester, delivering suits with all the attributes synonymous with a hand-crafted bespoke product and added flair, familiarity with fashion trends and innovative styling. His work has an appeal to those who want the bespoke suit, shirt, jacket or trousers and those who want not only the best bespoke tailoring can offer with, pardon the expression, no tailoring pun intended, a cutting, contemporary edge.
Once again, I was the child in the sweet shop! Where to begin? The cloth, the style, the stitching, there were so many decisions to be made.
Firstly there was the question of style. Was I going for the single or double breasted for the jacket? How many buttons? Then would I go for plain back, side vents, centre vent, golfer’s back? Pockets could be varied in number, location, line, with or without flap, concealed, large …. The choices seemed endless. The cuffs – what did I want? How many buttons, How set? Of course there was the stitching. Did I want it top-stitched? Long or short stitches? No stitching? And what about the thickness of the thread. The variations seemed endless but exciting.
That of course was only the jacket. There was then he question of the styling of the trousers ….. choices of plain or pleated, waistband fit, pocket style, trouser bottom options…. I was going to be some time but good things should be savoured not rushed.
My previous visits had introduced me to the many cloths available. Richard, exceedingly knowledgeable, could talk enthusiastically about weight, drape, particular attributes not merely appearance. Choice of cloth, choice of lining. I was in a whirl. I became a little adventurous – a red lining!
Especially for me, because I am rather pedantic, he wrote out all the details and not only that an explanation for many of the styling details.
I include his specification and commentary for your perusal. This is a young man with a real customer focus to complement his extraordinary skills.
J&J Minnis. Your cloth was taken from the Blenheim collection.
Charcoal shark skin Super 130’s wool.
Blenheim is woven from the finest super 130’s Australian Merino Wool, in Biella, Italy. Along with Huddersfield, England, the unique micro climate and soft water of the Biella region have made it an ideal location for the weaving and finishing of the finest cloths in the world. Skills passed down through generations of craftsmen combined with a subtle flair for design, create this truly stunning cloth.
This cloth has a beautiful handle and drape, and performs amazingly with great crease resistance.
Single breasted 2 button jacket
Notch lapels rather than peak. We added an extra lapel buttonhole for a more contemporary design. Underneath your left lapel I added thread to enable you to hold a flower in place, referred to as a flower buttonhole.
Slanted welted pockets
5 classic working button holes with 2 buttonhole stitch in red (matching your lining). We also put your lining within the cuff vent so that when you undo your cuff buttons it will feature your lining underneath (very stylish!).
The inside of your jacket is with tongue facing which means that your cloth is cut to go around your inside pockets. You also chose to have no security fastenings on your pockets. If you chose this it would have enabled you to button the pocket to keep things secure, i.e. a wallet. We finished the inside of your jacket with a black thread to add an extra detail of design to contrast the red lining.
Your trouser is flat fronted (without pleats). Flat fronted trouser gives a much sharper and slimmer appearance rather than pleats that gives the wearer much more room and can have a baggier appearance.
Your waistband contains 8 classic belt loops.
Classic slanted pockets and watch pocket with a button down flap
Your back pockets are welted.
I finished the bottom of your trouser with a half inch slope to heel. This reduces the amount of cloth you have over your shoe for a sharper finish. Basically the front is half an inch shorter than the back, hence slope to heel!
The dialogue between us, oral and written, reflects Richard’s attention to detail and alertness to client’s wishes and personality. He pandered to my every whim …. although I also think he carefully manoeuvred me away from potential faux pas. But it was subtle and I felt very much that my wishes had been fully addressed.
There remains only one issue for resolution. When will I go back again. I had thought maybe a nice jacket for next Christmas but my birthday is September …….