Savile Row – Introducing Stephen Allen
A new era dawns at our flagship Savile Row shop with Stephen Allen joining the team as Head Cutter, bringing his wealth of tailoring experience and extensive knowledge of the secrets of good bespoke tailoring. By way of an introduction, we asked him a few questions to get to know him a little better…..
Tailoring was the last thing that I wanted to do! I originally wanted to be a cartographer but couldn’t get into the field as no one was hiring when I left school.
My father was a tailor and was lecturing at LCF at the time. He told me that tailors always have work, even if its just alterations. And so my career began. As well as both myself and my father being tailors, my uncle is a tailor and my cousin is a cutter so the trade is firmly established in the family.
Tell us about your tailoring background
After my initial training at LCF I became an apprentice coat maker with Wells of Mayfair. A stint in fashion as a garment technologist followed but after being told that I was too smartly dressed for the job (!) I moved on to Huntsman to learn cutting. From there I went to Aspers, in the City, then back to the Row with Anderson & Sheppard. A second innings at Huntsman followed, this time as a senior cutter. Then on to JW Hook in the City (where I first met Ian and James), back to the West End with Norton & Sons before joining Cad & The Dandy.
Do tailoring styles vary between the City and Savile Row?
City clothes tend to be made with a heavier cut, while the west end tailors
tend to be softer. It is a very subtle difference. Savile Row is generally more formal in its approach but this is lessening with time.
How has SR changed in the past 20 years?
There has definitely been an increase in younger people wanting to work on Savile Row. Clients are also getting younger on average. The norm used to be 55+, whereas now it’s more like 35yrs +
The Row has shed a lot of its stuffy and conservative ways. Customers are not intimidated like they may have been in the past. Many blogs give good general information but most people interpret this as fact. However, what most blogs actually offer are guidelines. It’s the tailoring company and their cutters that interpret what the customer wants, then work this into the specific garments according to both the house style and cutter style.
What is your favourite garment?
A well cut blazer can be worn anywhere with anything – smart or casual. For me, this is the most versatile garment in a man’s wardrobe. Dress it up or down.
What is your favourite cloth?
Fresco – an open weave cloth. It keeps cool, drapes well and is hardwearing but it can be a challenge to handle when making up.
Any tips for buying a bespoke suit?
If buying your first suit, keep it classic and keep it simple. Keep your focus on the fit and the cloth choice. A 12-13oz mid weight cloth is good choice for an all rounder.
And tips for building a tailored wardrobe?
Start simple and classic. One mid-dark grey suit and one dark blue suit are good staples. You can build from there into tweeds, checks, stripes, linens, etc.
Your style icons?
Gregory Peck and the Prince of Wales
If not a tailor, what would you be?
I’m still waiting to find out……
Read more posts like this – Jon Deboise’ Golden Rules of Tailoring