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The New Face of Savile Row

London's famed street of tailors is shedding a bit of its haughtiness in an effort to expand its customer base
Jack Bettridge
From the Print Edition:
Kurt Russell, May/June 2006

(continued from page 6)

As Nicholls takes the dozens of measurements needed to create a bespoke suit, he subtly chats up the customer and it slowly dawns that it isn't idle curiosity that is driving him, but a desire to know how the garment will be worn so he can make it more useful for the wearer.

"It's a lifestyle thing where we slot in," says Nicholls. "I want to know if he's the kind of guy who tends to trash a suit. Then I'll give him a military tweed lining. If he's a cigar smoker, I'll fit the suit to accommodate a pocket humidor. If his business takes him to warmer climes, I'll take that into consideration for the weight of the fabric. If he wants it to show off his cherished Bentley at automobile shows, maybe I'll suggest a tweed three-piece suit."

Sometimes, he says, it's important to educe these things from a client. "Customers don't always tell you what they want. The blank canvas is sort of dangerous as people don't always have the language to tell you. Some do and will. Others will tell you exactly what they don't want. If you're buying a bespoke suit, it's always wise to give it a bit of thought. It helps me to have a fixed idea from the customer."

Nicholls likes to think that the clothes he makes are useful. "I like something with a bit of wearability. I prefer to make suits that are defined by people's lifestyle, not the other way round."

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