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Tailors: The Next Generation (A Simon Crompton Symposium)

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
It is by now clichè to mourn the death of the bespoke tailoring industry. At Simon Crompton’s tailors symposium last summer, we heard some of these platitudes from the assembled members of the elder generation. But it wasn’t because clients couldn’t be found. On the contrary, orders are surging. The industry is dying in a more literal sense - the great tailors are old, some even going to the extreme of perishing, and there are few young tailors to replace them.

This summer’s Crompendium of panelists represents a counterpoint to this claim that there are no young tailors ready to replace the older generation. Simon’s event, hosted as usual by the Stefano Bemer atelier and sponsored by Holland and Sherry, gathered six tailors, all at the precipice of their prime years - Gianfrancesco Musella of Musella Dembach in Milan, Satoki Kawai of Sartoria Crescent, also in Milan, Davide Taub (pronounced Da-veed, or so I gather from Simon’s introduction) of Gieves and Hawkes London, Eithen Sweet of Thom Sweeney, also in London, Chad Park of B&Tailor in Seoul, and Arnold Wong of WW Chan in Hong Kong. This cast represents the future of bespoke tailoring - strewn across the globe, with a large diversity of backgrounds, but with an increasingly homogenous product.

Only two of these six entered the trade by what received wisdom dictates as the “traditional” path - through their father’s business. Gianfrancesco Musella and Chad Park come from tailoring families, and continue to work in their family businesses. Davide Taub’s father and grandfather were tailors, but his route to being a tailor was more circuitous - he first studied architecture, then switched to tailoring and gradually worked his way up to the top of Gieves and Hawkes bespoke.

The other three have no tailoring lineage whatsoever - Arnold Chang started working at WW Chan as an accountant before finally finding his truly calling in the production department of the company, under the tutelage of Patrick Chu. Satoki Kawai decided as a 17 year old in Japan that he wanted to be a bespoke tailor. He first tried to find employment on Savile Row and, failing, fell back on Milan, where he trained under Caraceni before starting his own shop. Finally, Eithen Sweet passed through the Newham College of tailoring, which has trained many future Savile Row tailors, before working at Maurice Sedwell and now Thom Sweeney.

In many fields, the younger generation of workers takes on the Oedipal task of usurping the older generation, usually by means of innovation (I suppose in this telling, the role of Jocasta would be played by the client). But not these tailors. Even Davide Taub, the young tailor whose designs seem least beholden to tradition, said that “we got into this field to continue something, not to change it.” Gianfrancesco Musella, when asked what he hoped to accomplish with his work, said that he would most like to display and preserve the tailoring tradition of which his family is a part.

Perhaps bespoke tailoring is just a repository for all the Luddites interested in clothing production. But while Taub emphasized that he had no interest in breaking the rules of tradition for its own sake, he, and many of the others, don’t seem to feel obligated to follow tradition blindly either. Each tailor brought an example of their work to be shown during the symposium. Taub’s updated peacoat-style design bears testament to his willingness to experiment, with its zippered pocket, aquamarine fabric, and sharp cut.

But the most striking thing about the assembled coats was that the borders of the various tailoring traditions seem to have blurred. Whereas the six coats of the senior tailors at last year’s symposium could be associated with their makers immediately, the coats by the young tailors would be harder to place. And not only because these tailors have not yet achieved the renown of the older generation. For instance, Eithen Sweet’s double breasted dinner jacket features a spalla camicia with waterfall shoulders. It’s a design choice that befits the softness of the fabric and cut, but not one typical of Savile Row tailoring.

Perhaps this is the homogenizing influence of the Internet. Tailors of previous generations might have but sparse opportunities to see the handiwork of their brethren oceans away. But today they can access pictures at any moment, likely have plenty of clients in common, and meet in person at events such as this one.

In silhouette, there seems to be an international consensus formed around “full chest, soft construction.” Every coat could be and is described in this way. Maybe if one of the younger members of the de Luca family from Paris had joined the symposium, there would be some opposition to this consensus.

Among the group present, the coats that deviated the most in tailoring were not on the mannequins, but on the tailors. wearing. Davide Taub wore a waspish coat with crowned shoulders that recalled Cruikshank’s dandy drawings. Gianfrancesco Musella wore a coat of unique contours. Whereas the fullness on the other coast is sent to the sides, creating a rounded chest, in a Musella coat it is folded into a diagonal that points towards the shoulder. The overall effect is therefore more of a V than a U.

Seeing these six tailors in front of their work gives hope to bespoke clients worried that their supply may be soon cut off. You don’t have to be a 65-year old who has been sewing since the age of eight to make a good bespoke jacket. Here is a group of much younger men, many of whom started their training much later than eight, who will be making bespoke for many decades yet.



Suit by Arnold Chang of W.W. Chan




Coat by Satoki Kawai of Sartoria Crescent. Note that the front is done without a dart so as not to distort the check pattern




From Chad Park of BnTailor


Gianfrancesco Musella of Musella Dembach



Double-breasted dinner jacket by Eithen Sweet of Thom Sweeney.


Modern pea coat by Davide Taub of Gieves and Hawkes.


Everyone sitting together.


Simon talking.
post #2 of 34

Really great write up.

 

Taub was the subject of a recent article in the New Yorker:

http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/the-suit-that-couldnt-be-copied

post #3 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mosivy View Post

Really great write up.

Taub was the subject of a recent article in the New Yorker:
http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/the-suit-that-couldnt-be-copied

I read that piece and posted a response of sorts here:

http://nomanwalksalone.tumblr.com/post/147403345151/the-suit-that-cant-be-made-by-david-isle-akhil
post #4 of 34

Great write up, unbel. Thanks for doing it.

 

The lapel and quarter shape on the jackets still seem fairly differentiated. Chad Park's work shows the Liverano heritage. Kauai's lapels have distinct belly. etc. But what you say about travel and the easy exchange of photos making the incorporation of what had been regional or distinct elements easier makes sense.

 

Was there any discussion of North American tailoring? I notice that none of them are from or travel to the US/Canada. (Although BnT has their MTM service in NYC.)

post #5 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Six View Post

The lapel and quarter shape on the jackets still seem fairly differentiated. Chad Park's work shows the Liverano heritage.

I agree - although the Chan coat looked pretty similar. I'll see if I can find a straight on shot. Also the BnTailor quarters aren't as open as on Liverano (although I've seen other BnTailor examples with more open quarters).
Quote:
Kauai's lapels have distinct belly. etc.

To me that made it look like a Poole coat. But he said it was very Milanese. I don't know the other Milanese houses well enough to say, so I'll have to trust him.
Quote:
Was there any discussion of North American tailoring? I notice that none of them are from or travel to the US/Canada. (Although BnT has their MTM service in NYC.)

None at all.
post #6 of 34
Good write up
post #7 of 34
Interesting the 1970s width lapels coming back a bad version of the 40s Bold Look
post #8 of 34

Interesting the 1970s width lapels coming back a bad version of the 40s Bold Look

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post #9 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by unbelragazzo View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Six View Post

The lapel and quarter shape on the jackets still seem fairly differentiated. Chad Park's work shows the Liverano heritage.

I agree - although the Chan coat looked pretty similar. I'll see if I can find a straight on shot. Also the BnTailor quarters aren't as open as on Liverano (although I've seen other BnTailor examples with more open quarters).
 

 

Agreed, it's not a full Liverano duplication, but more of an influence. I'd have to look at the example compared with stuff on their IG. Chad's quarters might be slightly less open and rounded. The Chan quarters and lapels definitely seem generically (not in a pejorative sense) Italian, rather than Liverano influenced, but it might be the angle of the photo.

 

Quote:
Kauai's lapels have distinct belly. etc.

To me that made it look like a Poole coat. But he said it was very Milanese. I don't know the other Milanese houses well enough to say, so I'll have to trust him.
 
First, damn autocorrect. I mean Kawai, of course. Poole is an interesting comparison. Given the historical Saville Row/Italian connections, it would make sense for a new generation to great elements of them as interchangeable in developing one's own tailoring vocabulary. Although the curve of the belly looks somewhat different from Poole's (having looked at some photos). Now I'm interested to see if I can find some examples of Milanese tailoring.
 
 
Quote:
Quote:
Was there any discussion of North American tailoring? I notice that none of them are from or travel to the US/Canada. (Although BnT has their MTM service in NYC.)

None at all.

 

 

That's unfortunate. It would be interesting to hear from the tailoring community itself what it thinks is happening to the profession in the US. (And I mis-wrote. Taub travels to the US.)

post #10 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Six View Post

Agreed, it's not a full Liverano duplication, but more of an influence. I'd have to look at the example compared with stuff on their IG. Chad's quarters might be slightly less open and rounded. The Chan quarters and lapels definitely seem generically (not in a pejorative sense) Italian, rather than Liverano influenced, but it might be the angle of the photo.


That's unfortunate. It would be interesting to hear from the tailoring community itself what it thinks is happening to the profession in the US. (And I mis-wrote. Taub travels to the US.)

It would be nice to see Despos and other N. American tailors on the next round.
post #11 of 34
I prefer DS9.
post #12 of 34
Who are these North American Tailors? They have practically no Internet presence to my knowledge. I could not even name two. Why is this?
post #13 of 34
I think you've got the Taub photo mislabeled. The image you posted is a lightweight blazer. This is his peacoat:

post #14 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by vida View Post

Who are these North American Tailors? They have practically no Internet presence to my knowledge. I could not even name two. Why is this?

They don't need an online presence, but here are the candidates: Chris Despos, Lenoard Logsdail, William Field, Enzo Caruso, Nino Corvato.
post #15 of 34
^ I'd add Jeffrey Dudich but yeah. Most(?) of them will be tailoring for a while but who is going to follow them? Their opinions on what's happening in US tailoring and what will happen after them would be interesting to hear.
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