The Process of Bespoke with Grey Fox
My daughter is getting married this summer and I wanted something special to celebrate a particularly British event. I decided to try to put together a UK-manufactured outfit for my role as father of the bride, particularly as I write about British-made menswear on my blog, Grey Fox, in which I describe my search for sartorial style.
Here in the UK we have a long heritage of tailoring and clothing production and indeed British style has influenced men’s clothing design the world over. One of the pleasures of working on my blog is that I visit factories around the country, seeing everything from socks and shoes to ties, silk scarves, leather bags, knitwear and cloth for suiting being made.
A highlight of my trips last year was to the Turnbull & Asser shirt factory in Gloucester. Here the best cottons and linen are carefully made by hand into the finest shirts. Their quality is recognised by one of the most stylish men in the UK, HRH The Prince of Wales, who wears T&A shirts. As a result the company has proudly displayed the Royal Warrant since 1980, currently held by retail director Steven Quin who heads the bespoke shirt service in Bury Street, London.
You’re selecting a shirt that is entirely yours, reflecting your style, tastes and pocket under experienced guidance of the Royal Warrant holder.
Given this proud history and heritage I was delighted to have the chance to visit Bury Street to be measured by Mr Quin for two Turnbull & Asser bespoke shirts of my very own. The quiet, calm atmosphere of the shop is very welcoming and Steven took me through the bespoke service. After taking measurements and discussing my preferences for fit and style, we looked at a vast choice of cloths from Sea Island cottons to crisp linens.
Without Steven’s careful advice and guidance the selection could have been both bewildering and lengthy, but he somehow focuses the decision process in a remarkably skilled way. The choices don’t end with cloth as there are still collar shape, buttons, cuff style and other details to be decided on.
For the wedding I decided on a subtle pink-striped cloth with white collar and double cuffs, to be worn with a Savile Row morning coat and trousers. For the celebratory lunch the day after the ceremony, I'd chosen a cornflower blue chambray shirt with a tab collar, teamed with a summery linen suit and Northampton-made suede Derby shoes.
Once the shirts had arrived I was invited back to the store to try them on. Steven’s sharp eye notes any problems at this stage, but the fit was perfect for me and I took home the best shirts I’ve ever owned.
The English summer brings weddings, regattas, garden parties, racing events, and all sorts of special occasions which are perfectly celebrated with the best of British shirt making and manufacture; two bespoke shirts from the brand who does them best will not doubt prove a wardrobe essentials for many years to come.
Top image: Photography by Bart Pajak
Thumbnail image on previous page: Photography by Nick Maroudias