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Sit down with Eddie Powers

Posted 03.12.20

Meet Eddie Powers our US-based bespoke Pattern Maker.

Starting his tailoring career with a chance apprenticeship in London, he developed a strong professional relationship with our Head Pattern Cutter, George Atanasias. After a few years cutting his teeth at our Davies and Bury Street shops in London, working alongside James Cook and the team, and following a three-month secondment in 2017 assisting on our Bespoke Fall US Trunk Shows, he can now be found in our New York townhouse.

Eddie, how did you get into menswear and pattern cutting?

My creative enthusiasm goes back as far as I can recall really. From an early age I have always been hands-on and a lover of craft and colour. Throughout education and my employment with small independent tailors and men's clothiers in Soho, London, my sartorial interests flourished, and I began to respect and enjoy menswear, the history of it and the craft behind it. I began taking apart old personal favourite garments and buying vintage pieces to see how they were made and if I could attempt recreating them at home. Pattern cutting developed much later when my creative interests had brought me well beyond the point of no return culminating with the apprenticeship at Turnbull under our Head Pattern Cutter and my mentor George.

When did you start at Turnbull? Please describe your journey with us so far.

It will be just over five years now at T&A, my anniversary being August 10th. Since 2015. It has certainly been a privilege to work for such an institution of bold creativity and longevity. Before T&A, I was employed at Ralph Lauren, which I regard as my 'university' in terms of learning the breadth of design and intricacies of fabric, texture, and styling. This was only embellished by the enormous and profound impact Turnbull has imparted on me since. Starting with the opening of the Davies Street location, I worked under the leadership of the long-standing and formidable representative of T&A – James Cook, along with now lifelong friends Ike Victor and James Webb who wasted no time ‘Turnbull-izing’ me to help me learn the ropes. Nobody at Turnbull is the same. It is a melting pot of unique and colourful individuals – even our regular customers will tell you. When retired staff and long-standing customers from previous eras pop in to say hello it is interesting to put faces or names to the stories and folk lore that surround Turnbull which adds to the essence and character of the company, which I am so grateful to be a part of.

Eddie and the team at Davies Street.

And how did you find your way to New York?  

After a fantastic couple of years at Davies Street, I was sent to New York for a two-month secondment in 2017 to assist at the T&A Townhouse while our fall trunk show was underway. Upon my return, I began my apprenticeship and general Bespoke tutorship in Bury Street with George and Mr Quin. Following completion, it was time to return to The Big Apple as the pattern maker for T&A USA. I never thought I would end up here, but it is great to be back and with my family too. It has been a terrific two years so far.

What do you enjoy most about collaborating with our bespoke clients? And what is the wildest thing you have made for someone?

From all walks of life and all over the world, even different periods of history our customers are really what make T&A for me. Some prefer to keep things relatively simple and some must be from outer space! Bespoke not only offers a uniquely fitting garment but the choice to personalise and create something that simply cannot be found elsewhere. Listening and working closely with customers helps to understand their mind's eye and can be great fun to collaborate and realise it creatively. I would say up to this point the wildest garment made is either between one gentleman that wished to have a pocket attached on the right side of his shirt, under the arm to fit his smartphone. And a lady that fell for a highly gathered ‘puffy’ shirt that we had made back in the 1970s displayed in our T&A Newspaper in 2018. Always good to be challenged from time to time!

What are the main differences in what clients are looking for on either side of the Atlantic?

I would say the main differences to me is the use of double cuffs and the wearing of a tie. In the UK customers seemed more inclined to wear a tie and sport cufflinks, whereas in the US I learned the use of a tie is less expected and cufflinks are more a statement of success rather than a formal detail, particularly among our younger customers. Of course, in current times many offices and restaurants have closed and/ or people have been encouraged to work from home if necessary and therefore we have seen a rise in more casual shirts and details, and less expectation to dress up for an occasion or daily business.

There is also an extraordinarily strong James Bond appreciation on this side of the pond and many gents simply love the ‘Dr. No collar’ and Two Button Turnback cuff or ‘Cocktail Cuff.’ I do not recall as many Bonds influenced orders during my time in Bury street.

Have you created anything for yourself, and, if so, what are your favourite bespoke pieces?

Certainly! In the past, I have made a couple of topcoats, trousers, and jackets in my spare time. Having recently received them from storage in the UK, I have enjoyed being reunited with them however I must admit some a little small for me now… Which means back to the drawing board and time to create some new pieces. I acquired a semi-industrial sewing machine early on as per George’s recommendation and it is proven incredibly useful so far either making masks during the first lockdown out of old T&A cotton swatches I had collected over the years or repairing garments and so on. I used to have an industrial machine which was better for making garments from scratch but so far, I have thoroughly enjoyed practising hand sewing and finishing techniques. I would say my favourite item is a sort of Edwardian tartan topcoat with matching waist coat and trousers – was a fun and almost theatrical look that marked a turning point for me and my sartorial interests.

Can we please have an update on your fantastic mask project?

Having moved apartments in August I had to put a halt on the mask making for a while until I had re-established my set up. Now I have a little studio that has all I need to get on with it again! I was utterly astonished by the positive feedback and initial demand for the masks that it became a full-time job which felt great to keep so busy and provide for those that wanted them for themselves and their families. I have lately redesigned the masks to a more contoured shape without the pleats which I find fits more universally and comfortably. I intend to get back to it once I have wrapped up some personal projects this month.

When you are not cutting patterns, what do you enjoy doing most?

Currently, for most of us, life pretty much revolves around work and home but when I get the chance, I greatly appreciate long walks in my neighbourhood or the city and when home I love to draw portraits with charcoal and graphite as well as various DIY home projects. I am not one to be found sitting still for long!

Daniel Challis

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