Souster & Hicks is a family business established in 1978 by husband and wife team, Geoff and Laura Souster. Based in a stunning Georgian building located in the beautiful village of Woburn, Bedfordshire; Souster & Hicks has since gone on to inspire a new generation with their sons Scott and Wes and their daughter in law; Natalie completing the family team. Geoff Souster has a career spanning 50 years, hand cutting more than 30,000 bespoke suits. He was elected as the youngest ever National President of the Federation of Merchant Tailors in 1988, and also works as a consultant helping to set up and improve the patterns created for made to measure manufacturers, such as Wensum. Laura Souster has also been working in the tailoring industry for 50 years, and is a highly skilled tailoress. Laura successfully runs her ever-growing ladies tailoring business together with her daughter-in-law, Natalie Souster, who most recently joined the family business. With a highly experienced lineup, they have developed a strong reputation in the art of bespoke cutting and tailoring.
In this episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview Geoff Souster, Owner of Souster & Hicks about the long history of working within the world of bespoke tailoring, a journey which began when he dropped out of school at the age of 15. From there he started an apprenticeship at a local tailors and went on to attend the London College of Fashion to learn the basics of the trade. Our host Peter Brooker and Geoff talk about famous clients, changing tailoring trends, education, the art of customer service, learning from mistakes, and how men should adopt smart casual.
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Hello and welcome to another episode of The menswear style podcast. I'm your host Pete Brooker. Today I'm talking to Jeff sr, who is the managing director of SR and Hicks, that is Sue ster and Hicks comm is where you can find out more information. I'm just going to give you a little thumbnail sketch because I just got off the phone to Jeff, we spoke for about an hour and a half. I think you're going to have one of the best times on this podcast listening to Jeff and you have had for quite a while. Jeff has had a career spanned over 50 years hand cutting more than 30,000 bespoke suits. He was elected as the youngest ever national president of the Federation of merchant tailors in 1988. And also works as a consultant helping to set up and improve the patents created for me to measure manufacturers such as when some okay that is all I'm going to give you the rest you're going to find out yourself. And here is Jeff to tell you more. Okay, so I've been destroyed. Now. In fact, next month will be 55 years as a bespoke tailor, and a cutter more than anything else. And I got into the job back in 1966. Let's just say I had a chequered school career. Most of my family were teachers. My sister was my cousin's my uncle's, my aunts, and all my family were teachers. I in fact, wanted to be a teacher. I love sports, I would have a sports monster. But it didn't turn out that way. I just get bored in the class I used to play around. But I got kicked out of the grant local Grammar School, then went to a second school and only lasted two months. Basically, the music master wanted about 15 years old at that time. And the music master wanted me to sing Three blind mice. He knew I can play piano forte, you know, I'm going to church choir, but he was just taking the belittling me, I wouldn't have I wouldn't say it. So he took me to the headmaster. In those days, you'd get six of the best. And I obviously wasn't going to work. My uncle incident was going to matter at this particular school. So pretty embarrassing. But I asked you if I was old enough to leave the school and I said yes. So I left some explosives, which I shouldn't have done. But that's what I felt like, I got on my bike to go home and then tell my mom and dad, I'll just come out the second school in three months, not funny. On the way home to where I lived. There was bespoke tailors on the corner of the road and going back tracking slightly. My cousin work in the trade was a salesman, a frontman in the shop, wasn't a cutter wasn't a tailor. And I used to go down and see him sometimes on Saturdays, when I wasn't at school and look at the cloth and explain the latest styles. And in the 60s, everybody was into suits and mohair suits, mod boy era, which was me personified. And I was interested in it and funnily enough, he actually said what you will do if you don't get on at school, the second school so I don't know, maybe I'll come and sell suits. And he said to me, at the time it didn't listen to at all but he said we actually He's fine. It's always an issue. I wish I learned how to make emotional to tail I'd love to have my I didn't even really honestly pick up on that conversation I really did. On my way home from school, I'm going parties Taylor, I'm thinking I've got to get back to my mom and dad and give them good news and bad news. So I got off the bike, walked into funerals homeless Jewish men, as many people were in our trade back in that time. Lovely, lovely fella called. And I asked him if he could give me a job as a tailor. He said, Are you really interested? I'm very interested. I'm in trouble. He didn't know that. And he couldn't take knowledge too small. So he found the biggest firm and then he lives in my hometown, a company called w boson and I got an appointment The following morning at eight o'clock to be interviewed to become an apprentice Tyler. Well, I went home and told my parents what had happened. They weren't happy with the way I've been treated in school and actually sort of chosen and obviously what was going on. They weren't happy with the language I used either case and while it was then I went for the job interview at eight o'clock following morning. There'll be burdensome. And the gentleman asked me about how interested i was i said well I love sort of fashion I want to give it a go and I'd love to try. He said well when can you start so what I've left school you can put that info into inverted commas always. So I can start whenever you want to. So what you're doing today so I said well, what is coming through so what do you want to start today? So I said well, what now? So he said, I literally started on that morning. Wow, I was amazing. 55 years later, I'm still doing it. Now terrific. May I ask what's happened to the tailor that you started with is a guide many you but lupa died many years ago he I hated him obviously near as well. I used to live his little shops in those days back in my old town of roots and it will be same everywhere. There was at least 30 bespoke tailors in that town. Wow. Because everybody had their six major what ready to wear was not what you think it is like it's now It wasn't the choice and actually because it wasn't very good either. It wasn't till you got to the late 70s or 80s that ready to wear suddenly have manufacturers and German houses Italian We probably still know some of them now. We're starting to produce a good quality but it's worse. So it's competition for the Tigers. I didn't know loom was so synonymous with tails. I knew it was a millenary town. Pig is not actually synonymous with tigers. It just was the same every time you went to it's a big town. You know, it's under 50,000 people, even in even in woven in this village that I'm living in now this is only a very small High Street there's only 1000 people live in the village almost every knows it because of the Safari Park and the webinar itself and the stadium and then of course, the golf course. But I've gone back into the history there's a lovely little museum and one of the old churches and there were six bespoke tailors on the high street back in Victorian times. There's everybody had a suit made the solution was quite quite loose. It was hats My mother was military. My sister was very good at embroidery and things like this as well. But there was nobody in my family that was in total at all. I just you could say fell into it. So I did a five year apprenticeship as a bespoke tailor. That firm, unfortunately the firm the guy that was running the firm that he called me a better son and the firm was a great fun but the guy that bought the bells out they wanted to retire was that was a cutter, rather like I am now a bespoke tailors cutter. But he wasn't a businessman and he was losing a business. Eventually business got sold out to somebody else in Hampshire. I mentioned his name. And he took the business over and then set everybody in the world where he was he wanted all this stuff made in East London on the cheap. And we will I Italian tailors who were teaching me here because Italians have always been renowned for tailoring the courses. You know, I ended up at London College of fashion on a diabetes course where I actually did the first time I started doing cutting. Okay, in fact, the cutting side of it with a day release. I remember I was annoyed because I just wanted to learn how to finish making trousers how to make waistcoats, I didn't want to do the kind I wanted to get more tailoring. And I was annoyed. But I had to do it. The courts came at the London College of fashion only with the cutting in the morning tailoring in the afternoon. At the end of the year, we had the exams done on a big learning. And at the end of that we had the exams done. I came second in the class on the cutting our 32 didn't mean nothing to me because I wasn't interested in it. And I went to walk out the door and the lecturer call me back. He said Jeff, come in. So I said what what are you doing? So I said, Why don't we Why don't we do it? I'm on maternity apprenticeship. You know, you came second. So I said no, no. Okay, second. So I said, You didn't even try? Did you just said no, I want to be a tailor. And he said to me, You listen to me, my boy, you want to be a cutter, the cutter employs a tailor. The tailor can make a beautiful jacket, but if it doesn't fit, it's no bloody good. So go get yourself taught at a concert if you can. And that's how I fell into that as well. Would you say you took to it Jeff or was it just all the training? I mean, not everybody does the school and the apprenticeship and the five years was it something you really crafted? Yeah, because the money was crap. Basically hairdressing and tightening of X ray, as its affectionately was probably the worst money, but I survived. I loved it. I did it. I survived. It was hard. My parents were behind us. They didn't take any keep off me because I don't got any money. But I did it all together. It took me about eight and a half years ago, the tightening of edgy shit. And also during the cutting, I worked for a firm called Kilgore, French and Stanbury then elders called Kilgour. I did part of my apprenticeship there and Louie Stanbury were one of the one of the main guys always in the name of the company. I worked, learning some of the tailoring I do on the county technical Salvador when I was working in one of the offices around the corner, and Savile Row in white street next door made across people that have been showing that and a big office floor full of titles that were making for all the different several rotators around that area. That's how, that's how it still is to a degree but we can come on to that later. Sure. Did you say did you live in London at any point, or were you No, no, no, I'm born and bred in Luton, not many people are not coming from Lisbon. But it's my old town. There's good and bad on every town. It's my old town. You said earlier was no perhaps known for manufacturing as well. There were big manufacturers in the latest fashions and ladies manufacturing was my wife Laura. Also known as a dressmaker and machinist overlocker. So she was very skilled at that sort of thing. And so I want to kind of fast forward through three decades. But the business as it is today, Jeff, perhaps you can talk about the family business. So you have a couple of elder sons and a daughter in law. Do you mind just tapping on that? Yeah, of course. So now, we my wife, Laura, we started a business in 1978. So it's 43 years now we've had our business and very, very small to bigger to smaller in the years or 40 years things change. And my older son Scott joined us 25 years just under 25 years ago, my younger son Scott West joined us 19 years ago. I've tried Both of those become bespoke tailors cartons so they can both carts and fits. waist could actually make 15 Scott can actually do some sewing but he's not really tailoring he's more involved in the sales and fitting the the customers and that side of the business. So to both of them my daughter in law which is Scott's wife is is Natalie. She works in the family business with with us. She looks after the ladies tailing side with my wife Laura and also have helped and taught her how to run the company on the management side and business and account side. So she doesn't waste his future wife should have been wife by now. But we've COVID we couldn't get married last year or this day Daisy, she, she looks after the social media and everything on our side of the business as well. So the whole family's involved. And on top of that, I have two girls in the workroom, who I've trained from school, one left to have children, the other one didn't. But Jane that didn't leave sheets, of course has never had any children. She's now been with me for 41 years. She does a lot of hand sewn and pressing. Bob's, whose real name is Leslie, but so with a bubbly personality. So she's nicknamed as Bob's, she does flatbed machining, she's excellent at doing things like that. So that's what she does. Right as fascinating. It's, that is a very close knit relationship in terms of family work. I mean, we just spoke offline about how I kind of had a similar background with my dad and my brothers and it. What I learned from from my upbringing is that you kind of enjoyed the highs and lows of everything within small business over the years over the decades with different governments with different economic crisis it it kind of everything that happens at work seems to happen at home simultaneously. And yeah, we're fairly because you're so right, he does. I'm afraid you can't just turn the button off. It's over. We're not talking about it now is, is? It's tough when it's when it's right. It's brilliant when it's wrong. It's not funny. I mean, I lost my business in 1992 ago, and I lost our business in 92. With the recession, long story that but we lost everything. We had to start all over again. I was 14 years old. But I didn't lose my customers. I didn't lose my reputation. We were on the high street. We start with personal guarantee leases. One of my shops at a shopping mall, they put the rent up by 137%. And it's not a misquote, that is what they tried to put the rent up by and could because somebody had paid that rent on the high street and over the four year review, and they nearly tripled my rent. And I personally guaranteed it, which I didn't know but for some my sister Phyllis, I proved was incompetent. But I was stategy barred. I couldn't. So it was it's after six years that I found out. So in anybody in business, you're very lucky if you can be in business for as long as 40 years and not have a hiccup we had a big hiccup I didn't end up personally bankrupt, I probably would end cheaper if I hadn't been but my companies were lost. But we started back up again in a very small way somebody helped us and we built it back up again. And then I learned as you do in life, you learn I'm not gonna make that same mistake again. So now we bought the freehold everyone, when we own the shop, we're on the front end of the bank. So we don't have to worry about I'm my own landlord is my pension. So we don't have to worry about landlords, they do want to get to me before, right? I mean, it sounds like that's a great place to read. I mean, I know that you have kind of Brexit and COVID and everything else lockdowns going on on the periphery. But are you happy within yourself that the business is under your own control under your own sovereignty? Yeah, absolutely. Right. And the thing that's changing, obviously, with fashion, I mean, before COVID, we had started to change the picture on the offer that we were giving to people to come to us because we were doing far more casual things. And obviously with COVID, and people working from home, and more dressing down and more smart business or whichever way you want to call it. We will already beginning to focus on that. But luckily we've been in the period of time over the last 18 months we've used in a couple of factories now. For lower end our entry level Black Label, where we are now making everything that anybody wants to wear. So we're now I never thought I'd be doing this. Besides Mike and I and my suits was we've been talking about so if you wish. We will now make everything from jackets and unconstructed jackets also online we're making knitwear made to measure we're making quilted jackets. We're making bomber jackets making jeans, chinos. Most of us are shoes, trainers, the whole picture is incredible. And the younger generation my sons decided that we've got to change the image of the whole shop. I have the full showrooms in our shop on the ground floor. Now they're quite modern, the lounges they've got instead of having cutting boards, I now have counters I've got high chairs we've got gentle gentle on the side we have gin and tonic have a beer you can have a lovely coffee or beverage agent. People get in the coffee companies we would like to try and keep slowly and to different feel to the whole thing. My room upstairs in the shop is still very tight in each doorway to literally see all the patents hanging up in the trough everywhere. It's tiny are the most bespoke tailoring showrooms. But it's not. So we now cover everything because the customers, and this is the thing that people don't understand. For the youngest customers we get are probably mid 20s, to mid to late 20s. And it's weddings that brings them in. And also, once they've learned, they've all been branded, they've all been sold for 20 years about having brands. And in the end, they suddenly find out that we can do a motor motor suit for them for less or the same price or less than what they're paying for a good quality ready to wear labelled suit. And they can have it individually designed and manufactured by using computer costing systems and using factories all over the world, which is what we do, right? It must be quite gratifying to kind of school people at the same time. Because I mean, I imagined like I was when I was in my 20s everything was a casual game, everything was jeans and tees. But then once you start to learn a thing or two, and you realise there's a little bit more outside of you, you know, you're kind of high street ready to wear 99 pound two piece and it kind of opens up a new world. And so for you to kind of be there on the precipice of that must be quite nice. Yeah, I mean, the funny thing about being a bespoke tailor, if I go back, sorry, I won't go back too many times, but some 70 you do tend to talk about then. But in 1981 1982, I had a double page spread on me and what was then the menswear magazine because we as a bespoke tailor, we're expanding and twice the size of the shop and then had two shops and nothing because we bought in a lot of ready to wear and we were the first sort of independent bespoke toner and I'll do them inappropriately So turning on somebody sending stuff away, so that the factories to come. We were the first ones in the country to do that and double page spread all that gibberish but every rep and every agent for everybody to a company trying to get their products into our shop. So we do for many years, we were extremely successful already to it. But we'd started to get ready to wear over the last five years anyway, we used to sell the barber ease in shirts or even shirts, the 40 years Barker shoes cardia jeans, Hill torn jeans, labels were not the Amani, that kind of thing, but something a little bit underneath that we sell that all the time, but we don't sell it now everything we make. So it's time completely full circle from being the first bespoke tailor that actually started doing all that ready to wear. Now I don't do any of it. And it's like Savile Row, they wanted his thinking wheel to move in a really sweat and I get it from shirts and ties and they don't seem to understand that's not really what people are looking for. So Jeff, I'm curious now on the website, which everyone can look at, by the ways, Sr and hicks.com I'll leave all the links over on the show notes is a great place to hang out and especially the client list and the history of the shop, but it says that you've cut circa 30,000 bespoke suits. So I'm curious over that time have you? Have you developed a house style or favourite style? Maybe it came on early maybe it was when the first 1000 and and what hasn't changed over the years? Well, obviously fashion has changed over the year but as far as a house style is concerned, all the cuts basically the coffee's very sour. I was trying what I did on the part of the story. Earlier I said about I've been taught I had to learn how to become a bespoke tailors concept. The gentleman taught me was very cool. JOHN Carter. He died a few years ago but he was one of those 80s He was also as it happened, trained and actually worked for Kilgore Cobra, for instance, downwards it was and he was and he taught me this ever oka which is a very highfalutin arm over nicely shaped jacket slightly flared. And that's look to it, which actually is not that different from the Italian look. I don't mean the silly stuff now where they're so short, it makes too tight. I mean, the traditional tailors Look, I've been to Frankfurt all over Europe the gentleman's cut a big baggy job right they all Hugo Boss stuff used to be with a young horse ain't got a clue and I'm like, but the Italians know how to do it inside away and when I speak to the Italian factories when I've been doing a lovely factory called Caruso initiative for years ago cotton with a lovely product, lovely people 4000 people then work in their plant about now. And they're saying oh yeah, but we do this we're better than Savile Row but the sound robotic guys I know will say that better than that the sound is actually the truth is that was good as each other and the books and the way they work of how to make a suit feel comfortable how it fits. And the same is the same the same principle. So we have a idea I designed a five button ankle cuff so traditional bespoke suit would have four buttons on the cuff the button to button holes or undo army surgeons, capsule surgeons cutters. And with one of my customers about 12 years ago, it was a bit of a character and we call him bring my slippers he appaling everywhere john ever sees his wouldn't mind me saying that because that's what he's known for. Come on Jeff, let's do a different cuff and we did not we designed an angle going across the cost of the five buttons coming down the side. And now we've developed on that because the little inset in the corner of the cuff you can see on the website, you can then put contracting cloth in there so I designed that about 12 years ago. With a lapel I use a lapel quite often you have basically other than dress wear when you have a shawl collar. You have normally two different styles that are pillaging by off the peg and you probably know you Got a normal notch lapel, or you have the peak lapel, which is the double breasted lapel, but it can be put on a single jacket. In between that is what we call a fish mouth lapel. And this is something I didn't design. But actually, I've got an old picture up here with the Rat Pack on Sinatra and the boys. And those were called slim the pill. And it's a fish mouth propeller. So basically, the knotch, where you get the square where your collar it comes down, and then at the top of the lapel is closer together like a little fish's mouth. So we do that a lot. Now, that's not that's not my, I didn't design that I didn't think of that somebody else did before me making them shoes now. And 20 years. So everything's been done before no matter what you want to think of the five button cuff. That generally was something I designed whether somebody else had been done to do with military or something 100 200 years ago, I don't know, I don't think so there's a look to it. And you can always tell by cut by the shape and the jacket and the way it's done. Because it's a traditional several okay, but and now of course we have to cut a little bit shorter, because that's the fashion. The challenges obviously, so so twice, and so now and so skinny, which back in the early 60s were called drain pipes. And the jackets been so short Italian style, and the jackets will not be included, but we'll call bump freezers and that's what they were and it's the same style as it was then it's it all comes back 60 years ago, same style. The kids coming now think it's a new startup. Hang on. I did this 60 years ago. Yeah. There's a lot of people I think in the US have seen it. I mean, sharp suits you think you probably know their genetics who is a good friend of mine who's actually written that book and he's taught the history going back from 19 1020 3040 all the way through Eric Musgrave who did very well on millionaire Didn't you want a bit of money on a millionaire? Fine. I'm sitting there with Erickson Oh, fabulous john, this lovely book and it shows all the SEO bring up accounts people they saying about styles. I mean, even going back to the zoo, sound you know, you know what? I when I hear the word zoo, I think 1920s kind of gangsters Am I in the right area, it could be that area. But obviously it was no more recently go back to the 80s kid Creole coconut. He used to wear the very high fitting trousers very baggy right at the top. And then the bottoms of the challenges were very narrow. The jacket was very long, almost the quarter. And it was an American style as well. But actually came the trouser style came from the west end is nearly everything you have on site. So although we design suits to make things a little bit more exclusive for us for our looks, I think so that's a solution. So you know that lots of the things that you have on soaps are there for practicalities, the reason why they always send is they have this big baggy trousers at the top and the bottom on the on the foot was very, very narrow. And so the challenges were really like a boat show. And I remember these are a lot of us Indian customers back in the 60s and 70s and still got a few now. And so what was the idea with these bonds? He said, Jeff, you've been listening it's bloody hot. We want the finished course we can get. So we have a Charles has made his baggies we could at the top. But we didn't want more flapping around the bottom. So we didn't take him at the bottom. There was some chatter. So that was a creation because of fashion. So not because of fashion because of need, I should say necessity. Yeah, that's fascinating, did you so when people come in and ask for a bespoke suit now maybe it's for a wedding or maybe it's for some other personal event? Is there something that you're noticing within trends now that people are asking for that they weren't do say 1020 years ago um I think people want a lighter weight fabric now than what it was originally taught and fabrics obviously that's very important because the fabrics have changed over that period of time because you enjoy lightweight Merino was rather than English was good. So people are don't want heavy stuff because they don't wear as much. You got a few people coming in with a heavy suits are going to the guy that's going to wear a suit, as to suits and a wardrobe is there alternate them go on the train going from base, let's say from where we are from the suburbs out here in Bedfordshire, close and far from Milton Keynes, and people are travelling to the west end or going into the city. There want to have a very heavy drop so large, but there's very few people doing that now. So the fabrics are much much lighter. So yes, they want a lightweight cloth. And then it's most of them. I tell you what the best thing is, is happening. It really has been good. It's a lot of people the younger people come in and they bring out their phones. Yeah, and I say this I'm looking for something like this And who are they? Who are they looking for? Is it kind of Peaky Blinders James Bond or James Bond? The as you get a bit of that? Definitely. And we all know why because you know, the way it's been done over the years, although recently that Daniel Craig's are far too tight and far too small. I think they're just trying to make him look like he's a bigger harder man like they do with the craze. Because obviously you got the craze they have their jackets, maybe big wide shoulders, now lapels clipped into the hips other harder. But yeah, things like that, and the influence and when I'm talking about myself, and influence who's influenced me, so for instance, so I came up with the 60s, and the one guy that changed things in Savile Row at the time he wasn't liked by the establishment you might say was Tommy nothing, who did Kilgore and Stanbury himself right? It was there for a while. No, no, no, no, no. Tommy Nasser was a frontman couldn't sew a button on his cutter, who had the greatest admiration for still alive as his own business still knows Edward Sexton, though he's now in Nigeria, while the summer Oh, it was a couple of years old, really cracking cutter, but he did the suit. So if you go back to the Ringo Starr who just died, if you look at some of the suits he had with a lovely big Prince of Wales checks and Tommy was the designer. Edward was the cutter, and he revolutionised several workers at that time, at the late 60s. Most of the shops didn't have a shop window that wasn't assuming the window, there's normally a few lamps across line, they're covered in dust, and that's the way it was. And that brought them into the, into a new route. So they that look and they did quite a square shoulder rather than a sloping shoulder on an actual shoulder. If you're looking at several Taylor's elders and a shepherd who have titles of very good repute, highly world renowned, but they do a lovely, soft, natural shoulder, if that's what you want. We've always tended to do a slightly square shoulder line. I like a slightly sharper looking so I've never had a customer coming. So can you make me look fat? So everybody wants to be slimmer? Did you get a chance to meet Tommy Bernie? I've met him a couple of times. But he died many years ago. He was gay. He died from AIDS. He died a long, long while ago. But yeah, I've met him up in the Western world. A couple of things and company events. just casually Say hello to him. But I didn't know him very well. I had met him. We checked him once before I used to be the president of the Federation of motion tailors. That was our governing body. Back in 1988 $89.99, national president of the Federation so I met most of the several people think because I joined the National Council to find out what was going on with the trade and with apprenticeships and what was happening. Because there was a fabulous title of course called the title and Carter one of the most famous titles and it was been defunct for many, many years. Its content and content so on still the title but it never comes out. I think the last one of those three issues. Righty Why aren't they reviving that we should get get over to Conde Nast. On that they're sitting on the title they that we managed to borrow the title is a federation of motion tailors, which is basically the China's themselves, nothing's ever awarded margins just us and the governing body of ourselves. We dealt with the wages and around the log and what you're paying the staff and things like that national wages Council for the tailors. So I did a bit of that for four or five years. And that's when I met a lot of the guys on the West End. Several people and went to the national conferences. We used to have some it folded I think we got amalgamated back in the 90s later in the 90s. That doesn't exist now. But it does but it doesn't exist nearly Forget it. In fact, the only thing that really is an organisation really is a challenge or side of it and push for the golden shears award for the apprenticeships and things like that, that they do. They're still going now, which is a good thing. Okay. Yeah, that should be supported. Yeah, the Tommy that story's quite a wild one because he was. Well, he was doing a lot of the suits for elton john, and I'm telling you stuff that you already know. But that's kind of how I learn about Tommy Nutter and how, like he inspired the likes of Tom Ford. So current designers even now, Tom Ford said that the first thing I heard about Tommy now was there, there was a guy who couldn't get into a club and he decided to dive into the River Thames. So that was like how we heard of Tommy now. Yeah, he was a bit of a wild. Yeah. But yeah, well, it was 50 years ahead of his time, but he wasn't liked in Savile Row. They really didn't like him and what he did. Without being homophobic about this, I think there was a little bit of that, unfortunately, at that time as well. But he was flamboyant. It was lots of stuff that Samara was a little quiet little club. Because a lot of the tables you couldn't walk in the door, you had to be introduced by another customer to get into the shop to absent mode. So it used to be right there bloody lights and guys was now with a problem and not been able to get everybody from America, of course. They can't travel. How does that work for you, Jeff? Now? I mean, can we just talk about anything that's going on with the pandemic and COVID and locked down? Are you are you able to see your customers personally? Are you Yeah, I mean, now it's fine. We couldn't obviously wait. When you when we opened in April on April the 12th. I think it was. We've been shot as a shot for eight months or the previous 13 months. Not bloody funny. Government helped us out with the furlough, soccer furlough, my family, I couldn't get money myself and my wife was found out too much, but only one of the year before that's awful, but we can survive. It's not the end of the world. And if the government were very helpful, and then since then, it's been fantastic for us because we are able to see cosmos. The thing about woven in itself and here is the private car park. The back of the shop. Genuinely most men do not like going around shops. That's obviously a generalisation. But most of them don't like going shopping. So to come to a place like cars, park the car, get sorted out, get kitted out, get advised. Very often they come the first time with their wives or their partners. And then after the voice departments have been there, see what we do and how we look after them. They don't have to worry about it, then the guys will come on their own, but they'll come here they can go for lunch somewhere. And golf games. So it's a bit of a day now. And we have a good social media thing going on because the mind future dogshit or pushing stuff out one at a time. And we have a good website, as you've mentioned already. And people are trip people travelled to us more every country, it's quite amazing how far people come. from people from Somerset from people, lots of people south of the river. A lot of people from Hampshire, two or three people from Brighton. And from that area from from Lexington, from that Essex in the Midlands don't get people from from the Midlands, north. I think most of those. There's a lot of history in the Midlands, retailing, they've got the retailers out there where people travelled or similar way. Right? And can we talk a little bit about your client list as well on the website? So perhaps some of your favourite clients of the people would have heard of? Yeah, you have to be utterly one thing, but you have to be very, very careful when you promote celebrities and footballers or drivers. Because if you promote it too much, it tends to scare Mr. Average away who thinks we won't be interested in serving him for one CEU and he doesn't think he can probably afford to come so you have to be careful that I never used to publicise it, but my son said, Come on, daddy. We love these stories of yours and all your customers. So the very first real celebrity I had was Eric Moore. And Eric living in Hartford, and it was recommended to me and I called me around to make him a couple of suits. And even got into all retailers in Savile Row. But he'd heard about me, and I made him a cup of soup. So at that time, I had my shop in Luton, and I was just about to open a shop in Dallas was a lovely man. And he's always fun. He couldn't stop over and died. And he asked me how business was I sent him over that was open dansville. I went back to the six after second fittings and suits were fine. He said, how's it going into shop? I said, Well, it's nearly ready. He said, You wouldn't care to open it for us and we'll come with you. And he looked at me and he said, I don't do that sort of thing. I said, I know you don't say but I thought art he said you're cheeky. But aren't you out and he did fair play to him. He came and opened my shop. He said now I've got a driver. I'll come and help you. And he did in today he did that now with social media and everything. Fantastic. So Eric, Eric was the first real celebrity but the best advert for me, certainly for the 80s was Bob Monkhouse. So I made everything for Bob Monkhouse from the mid to late 80s till he died in 2003. Christmas time 2004. He had a very good tailor before me called Bobby Stanford, I don't think will be still alive, but probably was getting old. Bob needed some suits made and unfortunately couldn't make them in time. I lived he lived near to where I am here in Bedfordshire made contact with me. We had to do a couple of suits off the paper mark collections off the figures. It was in those shops, and I'm in Dunstable. And I locked him into shape for him and I said to him, I said, Come on in. Have you meeting me now? Why don't you let me make you something? You see what you think so I then made him a blazer, he was happy. And then a little while later, he got called round six things got me made three we're gonna be made by Robbie, I'm gonna make the other three. So I got in there made those ones forward in time. We'll call them six suits, and I made them all. He was he was a wonderful effort because he was he MACRA I mean, forget what it was like the comedy. He was the king. He was incredible. Lord, he got tickets for organising the audience and Bob Monkhouse on the telly when they did that. And we were the only people in the audience that were not TV stars, but he's all film stars and people like that he was wonderful. And then we've done lots of other people and young. Daniel kiato. Formula One, we might we might for lots of footballers in the past. My son Scott looks after one of our footballers now he's an ex England, I won't say his name, but he but he's an ex England football. He's retired and he used to play for Mensa. He's now playing for Liverpool. Well, I can say I can say the name No, can't if you can say what you want to say. He's a I'm a Liverpool fan. So um, but you know. And so I mean, James doesn't mind me saying a shock to us. But Scott, my older son looks after him and also with his wife partner lane as well. So we begin the ladies Tony side as well. So there's been quite a few celebrities over the years and funny people I did Matthew Kelly, one thing that was really funny. It's something I've always been proud of funny enough. Back in Prague with many how far was it back in the late 90s. I think on Saturday night on television, you gotta remember now, I'm a provincial tailor, forget whatever. Oh, yeah, I've worked up there. And I've got federation of motion, tailors credential, there's all this sort of stuff. I'm a provincial tailor. And when Saturday night I had my suits on both sides. Fantastic television. So I had the National Lottery with Bob on council or even ns. And on the other side, I've Matthew carried me stars in the wind. So my suits on both sides on private television, and they were just a small family business. We're not uploading big people. But I really, really got chuffed about they looked, I mean, like, I guess this is kind of like my time of growing up. I mean, you've been growing up now, you've got infinite amount of choices even on your phone, you can just watch about 100 channels at once. But back in those days, it was four channels. And that's basically what you had on you might not have even been liking what you were watching but that was your no choice. Right. So I mean, it would be like for us to be I mean, Parkinson for example. I mean, looking back on it now I wasn't that fussed about Parliament's and I'd love to see Parkinson on TV or interview. Yeah. And he you being the Yorkshire man he is and he's actually admitted this a couple of things recently, I've noticed in the press that he wasn't positionally correct, at the top, but actually at the time, he was perfectly okay. But now looking back on it. Some of the things he said and the way he talked to people typically ladies, there's one thing was one that they didn't get on at all. And I but he was I love i'd love partnership. The first time I ever heard or saw build economy was on Parkinson, we were having dinner with some friends and I could hear this Walker's laughter from the table. don't really watch it. It's on. We're planning houses, and it was a big year now and he was hilarious. I mean, television wise. I mean, I've managed to get until a couple times I got Oh, we are the only tailors that ever got on the clothes show ever well. We got on we were making I was making suits or little bang Rick wig on the world champion boxer as he was at the time. Yeah. Barry saw very little want to go to anger. Love little fella. And he saw the BBC decided they wanted to run a story on the making of Bamako. So I've got Jeff banks interviewing me for like four and a half minutes private television about trauma or Sunday nights before Countryfile but he said the phone show, there's To my knowledge, there's never been another title on there. So that was great publicity. But again, no internet, you see, right? People are gonna try and find you. I say this about a teller. I'm sure you're familiar with Jeff at Doug Hayward. He made the stars. I made a few people doggy was in a different league to me. But I mean, I spoke to Doug Hayward store and ex wife a couple of weeks ago. Yeah. And I said, Look, had social media been around those days. I think he probably would have got a lot of the recognition that he felt he may have deserved. I mean, he got the client let's let's not let's not do that. But he if that was up today, then you'd be seeing okay was named in like all in every column, right? He's huge. In fact, because he was quality. He was a great tailor. I never met Ducky, but I didn't know well of him. He now if that was coming out now he wouldn't be out COVID business. Yeah, yeah, the Google and internet is a wonderful thing. But when you're like us, even a small family business, you know, one of the PR companies have approached us. Come on, you've got such a wonderful story. You've got a wonderful Ronnie unique says your unique selling proposition using an awful brilliant organism. But you have got the story going on your cup of suits on the premises, you've got all this stuff going on? And they say, Oh, we've got to get it out there. And I said, Well, how am I small business units? Or what about legal offices? So I couldn't cope with anyone. Unless they get standard. And everything that gets done. We've got these the age group, they sort of Well, what's your target audiences. So when I've got customers in the 20s, and customers in the 90s, I've just made two suits one of my old customers for his 90th birthday. And we only want one but he decided to have to secret a 40 what he wants. And I'll tell you what, it's funny because this is dealing with the public now talking about dealing with the public wonderful 97 98% of time dealing with the public molecule is always going to be a problem. But we've had so much fun with our customers but this guy, so expensive, you Bob with me to focus mostly on three pieces. And so I said, Well, what are the most common ground deploys? And he said, he looked down at me I've been making these clothes over 40 years, no names have got away or were not mentioned customers names. He looked down at me said I've not taught you anything. Jeff in 40 years, he might have bloody 19 actually taken a lot upfront. Show me agree and you want to check out before 1000 is old school check, no car, check out. But that's it. So dealing with the public's been wonderful. I think what people like about our place, you know where you can, you can see things going on. You can see the cutter you can actually see it happening when you've got the motor motors retract, you want to touch on the differential so people can understand the difference between a factory made tailored garment and a handmade please Yeah, so the word bespoke, obviously, it gets misconstrued it's been spoken for it's made taller. So anybody making a suit, in a factory anywhere in the world in many ways we may we use international firms, one Portugal's replacement motion all over the place to make drugs, there's no way in England there was, there was, but they're all gone. So when you actually measure somebody, and you then send it away, and in fact we made that we describe as a major measure. So and we call it as Black Label a bespoke to us is when you cut it and fit it on the premises, and you have it hanging over by either on the premises when we can make it and when once we don't make we've got advertisers have workflows that work for other people, as well. Out workers have a cough industry, where trouser makers, coat makers, white coat makers have actually finished a hands off. And they're totally different than if I took different writers ladies over doubles having done by hand, same cloth, sewing material. The tiny serving at the beginning is the same the time and the care that we take in sorting out the styling. And the way they work. Some people come in and I say I want your entry level your record label is that when you just get a lot of release work, and you change it to fit me so not a made to measure suit is still going to be individually cut for you in the choice of your cloth with the style of the lining, some of the intricacies that we do on the five coffees actually put into the factories now. And so that you say is still made to measure for you. And Strictly speaking, anybody can say it's still a bespoke suit because it is using the word for what it actually says it is. But a problem bespoke. So I mentioned earlier in the discussion when you think about the Federation of Magento. So obviously, I got involved in back in the 80s. And it's one of the criteria to be a member of the Federation of tailors then was you had to cut and you had to fit them on the premises. They couldn't say they had to be made on the premises, because you had our workers at that time all the way around. So around London are still there, but nothing like used to be. And because of the change in planning laws back in the 80s. That's another story anyway, I've got time for now. But the government changed the planning laws and suddenly the rents quadrupled. So therefore the tailors had to start go working from home. And that's very hard to get apprenticeships to come in because you couldn't send to someone's house. So the difference is that there is a difference. And when you get a hand and not just hang up your canvases inside What do you know about canvases yourself about Jackie being canvassed or half canvas or fused? So yeah, it has to be either lined or fused to kind of adds to the weight and that's it can even move and shift up and down depending whether it's actually sewn in or floating. Well, not quite right. But you say it's interesting because you're loosely in the fashion industry as such, and people don't know they don't understand. So fusing the canvas on the front of the cloth on the on the front of the jacket, once it's been cut means that it's bonded on the canvas that's so when you have it. So you've got your cloth, you've got your canvas and then you've got your lining. So the canvas is in between you don't see it but it's in between. and fusing it on the front of the cloth has been going on for 6070 years when it first came out though sniffles are born, they were awful. They're much better now. But it stuck on it's tiny stickers, it's tiny fractures in these magic machines and roll it on, put it off, it doesn't come off and it stays on if it's put on profit right away. And if we do if we do a handmade so then the canvas is put in by hand and it's only by hand or you can shape the canvas is normally out of horsehair. So it's not always natural. One of my customers came to me once and said, I don't want anything to do with a twinge Jeff. And I thought What the bloody eccentric was focused was I have to say, I don't know what he's talking about, well, what twins, what twins you're talking about. He said polyester, polyester. So that was a joke. So the cameras are putting by hand and they're shaped. Now they're made to measure suits, but he's wearing suits as well. And they're made to measure suits cannot put the shirt they can do the cutting but they can't do the craft tailor the fact I've got somebody who's got a full chest. When working out or ex military, you've kind of got around and you've got a flat piece of cloth. So you've got a view moulded. You cut it as best you can. And then you shrink it and you shape it with the canvases to build the chest up with the chest piece, the chest pieces, where it says it is above the rest line. And that's all hand padded. You know customers asked me many years ago, how many stitches are there a jacket. So we all sort of are kind of like diversify. But here's a bit of an idea. And he said with vans on how big the jacket is, but it's between four and 5000 hand stitches per jacket. And the buttonholes when the button was in my hand each button holds 100 stitches. So luckily me with a five button calf, two front buttons on Well, it's 1300 stitches just on the bottom. Right, but it is still going to be cut properly and it's still going to fit but there's a difference between the feel of handcraft might suit. And the hardest thing as a salesman, as I have been all my life besides meditators Carter is trying to explain to people what it feels like the only way you're gonna find out is that one, obviously going across the people. Jeff, I had a time in the tailors, I was just front of house, I wasn't doing anything cutting or anything. And the guy that I was working for was kind of a rock and roll star in terms of what he fought he was before he was a big name. And he got into a stage where you actually just for I don't want to be doing anything Front of House, no fittings, he just wants to basically reap the rewards of his name and the tailoring house, not really have anything to do with the customer. It sounds like review, it's kind of the opposite, that you actually love having that time with the customers and find out what they're like. Oh, yeah. Everybody that makes me happy now 70 just only a few weeks ago that I've been 70. But I am. And everybody that meets me said you shouldn't use ethics. Unbelievable. You wouldn't use as we should. I said, Look, don't get me wrong. I love your gin and tonic to remind folks, I want to run the football. But I love my train. I mean, Danny Oh, I've told you when I started when I was 15 years old, it's now 55 years everyday my life I've done this, dammit, you've got a life. I don't have to work out for you. I don't really have to work. But I want to work. I love serving the customers I love when you get you get a guy coming in where the whiteboard remembers his daughter's wedding. This is a classic case where a guy's middle aged. And he's got the dreaded middle age spread with what we commonly call the lower chest. So he's got the tongue. And he doesn't want to be in my shop, because he knows it's gonna cost some of you Bob. He'd rather be at the football, rugby or playing golf or doing something else. And he doesn't want to be there. And you can almost see that the other half is dragging him in. And I love it. When I come up with all the while I'm gonna knock your bloody eyes. I'm gonna make you look slimmer. And when you got that, where'd it go, say how much weight you've lost. Fantastic. And I do it and that tell you six months later, nine months later, that guy come back in. And he'll say, you knew I was coming back? And I said, Yeah, I know what you're coming back and forth. So you can't wait. Are we ever close that connection? No. You asked for it. I just want a nice casual jacket. No. And they they do often intimate. I never had a father who said so you know, you knew I'd be back. But it's like everything in life. nice restaurants, nice cars, nice holidays, the good things in life once you've tasted. Yeah. Jeff, I felt like I could talk to you for hours. You probably my family will tell you that you. Well, listen, it's it's been wonderful hearing all of those stories and especially listening to the passion for you know, bespoke suits and still going on with you and flying the flag like you have been for so many years. I got to ask, has there been any outside of the client list that you had any people that you've been influenced by with styling in terms of Screen Actors? Maybe like Roger Moore or Cary Grant and the people Yeah, well, Sean Connery and your story. And your story. I mean, Daniel Craig. No, because he's always busting out all over the place. Sean Connery you mentioned Tony Hayward and people. When you go back to that look on those people that influenced us, I'd love to speak with Queen the way he looks. I like the Rat Pack. I love Sinatra and those boys and the way I saw I was lucky enough to see Sammy Davis live. We actually saw it was a fantastic show we source Sammy Davis Frank Sinatra analysing an alien show called The main event back in the 80s of the Albert Hall. And so not you're just lovely so beautifully cuff. Sammy Davis saying those those mohair suits and things like this classic, absolutely wonderful, modern people. Anybody? One I'd have to put my hands up too. We'll probably be back with David Beckham. Okay, but we'll have to have done. I think what he's done to make me look smart is helpful because basically at the moment, men are so scrappy, how women ever let men go out to a restaurant when the girls have done their hair. And the guy goes out with a scruffy poetries sparkly pair of trainers, Barney baggy sheet t shirt, how they let them do it. Honey Come on. I'm with you. I actually if I blame the women more than that, then I blame the men so they let them get away with it. I had a guy I put this as well to my girlfriend The other day I said I equate it to a guy that turns up to work stinking right I've been in I've worked construction pretty much all my life. Yeah, dude turns up and he's absolutely honking like real bad. Yeah, I'd say how can the woman let him leave the house? If it's his reputation, it's all kind of coming back. It actually it's a good analogy because but it that joins me when and when I see people on television but I badly dressed. You know I said earlier whether you put this into the podcast was obviously we've had a long chat tonight which is normal with me. The way that you fit the armhole to the armhole is high so the jacket doesn't move and it doesn't come up with that I look at newscasts as people sitting on television wearing a suit and the jackets coming up hitting the back of the head and I think that's off the peak for Christ I don't think so. But plenty Taylor so not with me. Yes. Come on, give me some money by all means. Go to a proper tailor and get the suit official copy the fashion now for men is the worst it's ever been and you know, the worst thing about it is you look at the Italians and see them dressed now Boy, you can like lash out they can still they can walk around with chinos with turnips on well the challenge is French is too short. We've grown from no shocks and the bangles still come out of cool English guy does it look like a pile of crap? And please join me on the twist. I say all the time. I get so frustrated with it but they are. Well you do the chinos you do the shirts. People dress down in style, believe me because, you know, I had when he first started just there was a dress down Friday starts in America came over here, then we would have dressed down every day. No criteria of what you got to wear. I just made this lovely old boy very conservative. In the professions, either accountant or system. Just making three bespoke suits. I get a panic phone call from him one morning, Mr. Sousa, he said, I've got a problem. So what's the matter? I thought he said, Now I've got a problem. Our company have gone to dressing down what says dressing down? I said, Well, you have to be more casual. But what do I wear? I said, Well, you'll have to come back in and see me. I'll make you a couple of jackets and jeans. Which is what I did. But he typifies a man who's going to work and the suit was a uniform. in the morning. He didn't have to think what jacket do I put with this pair of jeans, he just put the Navy pinstripe suit on the grey pinstripe suit on that white shirt or that tie and he's only Georgia and got time to muck about. But when people dressing down, it's been going on for 30 years now. And it's abysmal. I just hate it. But eventually, I'm looking forward also, to when this awful fashion for these two skinnier trousers as I work on, as I said earlier, drainpipes like 15 inch, 14 inch bottoms for people size 12 feet for Christ, what the hell's labour. And I'm looking forward to the fashion which I do believe it's beginning to come where pleats are coming back into the trousers. And therefore the bottom will go wider, actually will probably make less money because I need more cloth for that, by the way, because it's actually kind of drawing points. You don't need too much material. But in all seriousness, I'll be happy if you can get the body fashion coming back with the proper trousers. And I'm seeing it coming back. I mean, I don't know if it's just because of the people that I follow or gravitate. We've had some young latching we've had some young lads going came in to go to my daughter's wedding and the two younger sons who were not having smokers only about 14 or 15 quite stylish these boys out there. And that they're talking to the farm and a pharmacy lager flat front your trousers was a dad You should have please and he's not used to replace a dad You should be wearing pleased. So coming back. First time I've heard that in my shop. So it's going to happen. Very simple. You know why that happens? Why it changes. When you find out as a lead and you're quite stylish with your late teens, early 20s, or whatever. And you find out that your father is wearing the same style as you, then you think shit, I can't wear that anymore. I've got to go and get something else and make it and have a different style because I can't wear the same garments about my father's right. That is how fashion changes. That's how it changed between the 50s and 60s, right all the way through the way the young started to have a bit of disposable income they do not want to be wearing the same heavier cloth as a dad so they all change although traditionally Savile Row used to have a lot of the farmers were introduced there some and bring their son into the same Taylor old school, public school, old school that stuff that was always you go to the same title as your Father, but for the general public with due respect. That they rebuilt the 60s was the rebellion. I mean, God the fascists have changed in the 60s. And I tell these young kids now that come in about wearing these trousers and and the jackets to shore up palm trees as I said earlier, and I say to them, you know, you've got to be careful not to get caught in a fashion in an extreme mature fashion. And here is somebody saying that talks about kettle black. I got married in 1972 to my wife Laura 49 years this year, God knows she's bothering me. And I was wearing 24 inch wide flares with two and a half inch foam soul shoes. My hair was down to my shoulders, my lapels were cut very wide and had a braided edge round and which is actually covered of what's coming up. Ringo Starr because I love what he did. And naturally the pillows are wider than the shoulders and it would have been a windy day on a plane he took off at night when my son saw those pictures when they were old enough to understand it and wore on it What made you wear that that tie there's me trying to tell him you don't know it don't do it. But I did it myself. story I love best about Tommy. Tommy NATS lapels is that you'd have to walk out the door sideways so he always used to say yeah He was five years old, but he had a very concave there's a concave shaped shoulder that went up in the air, which actually we said was Sex Ed was emblems. The cutter Tommy obviously unfortunately lost the businesses a couple of times. In fact, he also lost the use of his name to be able to use his name for traders because it was just not as and things like that but Edward Edward was the man he was the Casa Toby was the inspiration for styles and getting all the PR God knows what Tommy told me that it would be doing now with social media I think it would be that forget David Beckham Tommy natural would be Whoa, why are there is respect for the man and and the fact he was gay and he died from AIDS was a tragedy. And the way he was treated, I won't say what was I know and other things where he was treated in a way he was spoken about in Savile Row by some of the old school people there because he was gay and the way he was was rendered terrible honestly. Tricky times. Hey, Jeff, I've got another random question for you. taught me that I did the suits for the RV rodeo LP apart from I've often wondered, what was George wearing as in who cut for George? Well, it was a bit different, wasn't it big boy? Isn't fashions again that isn't it? But it depends whether George actually George's character and himself as we series? Did he instigate his tailor to cut that look or get the tailor do it for him? To find out, chicken and egg well, bespoke tailors. I have people that come into me and want something I do not think is right for them. Now, the word bespoke is what it says it's been spoken for. They're telling me what I've got to make them. I will endeavour to do everything I can to educate the customer and explain to them they shouldn't have that. In fact, I wish my mates had told me not to have my Bali wedding. So but that's another story. But But you but you, you have to you have to think actually did he also I do get people to come in and say look, in my professional opinion. That's not the right style for you. However, your pain if you want me to do it, I'll do it. And that's the other thing we haven't touched on is you've just found out that the way the way that the people coming in the old days, you wish only tailors you could go to a tailor for his cat and dog he had done he used to have a lovely cover suits base. And you'd go for a certain title. So you go to the west end for the tailored fit, it looks slightly flared. Or you go to the East End of London thought he called a semi drape, which was a big wide shoulders living uphill, the gangster look the crazy look. And you would go to a Taylor's for his cut about price you'd go for his car. We now as a family, we have to cut every car there is because we want and I've tried it so everybody comes to I say I want that good. I want this and I love it when I get that old look at the sharp suits. There's a fabulous picture in there. Taken from the Gatsby we've read through that. And he's got a lovely square find the double breasted waistcoat one. And I've made that several times in a pinstripe suit Now recently in the past and people that I love that wrote this very nice 40s gangster look up next on American rock as it happens. And it stimulates they come in they don't necessarily want to copy everybody else. What's the point? We're coming to Mr. Taylor on copying with respect what Georgia man it happens to be putting out that Yeah, you'll come to us and create your own fashion. Yeah, totally for your size and your own lifestyle. Yeah. As I was wondering, I will say that the kind of way we're gonna see a return to say like the classic style, the pleats the higher rise. Because when you kind of go when you when you do a lot of secular flashing, you kind of go from 70s and the flares and the 80s. And the power suits, whatnot. You kind of look back and go, Well, why was Sean Connery looking so damn good. Again, it's an estimate. Because Well, there's, it was a very classic simple. No, no, I get, yeah, I get customers to come in. And yeah, you'll change. But I would be wearing my jacket now. I'm still in inches, obviously. I'd be wearing my jacket now the quarter inch shorter than what I will 10 years ago. So but that's all but that's all because I'm going with a fashion with a jacket. So make sure I put one of my old suits on that I made 10 years ago put it on black, yellow, and Afro. And it was what you do you then look at your everybody's eyes get used to seeing everything on telly. Yeah, you see earlier in fact, you I mean a nice image. I don't know whose title is but not in my suits and all the rest of it. But the jackets are too short, they're too tight. But everybody gets used to that silhouette. Yeah. And when they come in and you make the right thing for them, then if that's too long to know, actually, that's right, what you're looking at is too short. That's the that's where you have to make sure before you make for somebody that you are on the same wavelength but we always put if we do our made to measure suit, whether it's factory we have my book has been digitised and put into the factory. So it's exclusive to us. So you can't get that from anywhere else. So I've had marginal models made in 36 just over 54 chests, three priests in fact the trousers have all been taken out with a much slimmer now. So you put on the newest ready to wear size and that's how you make them work. So they put onto a we ask them to bring something in with the That's the biggest thing you can do. Bring something in you're used to wearing because people could be wearing their sleeves. So long, right? When you make them the correct length, they'll say, oh, they're too short. I know what do you normally wear? So we always tell people first time they come into us bring something in Iraq. How old is that? Okay, it's tatty, bring it in, I want to see what used to wear. And then we'll copy everything that we agree is correct. And change everything we know that's wrong. And that's how it works. You don't get the problems that we should don't have the luxury of a bespoke fitting with a motor measure a factory made sure it's cut straight to finishes and the leg length you tweak it when it comes to the shop, we have a need to find a little detail. But you don't have a luxury of responses in or having a couple of things to the customer before you finish it. Yeah, that's how it works. He does wear the shirts as well, we're going to touch on that. And same thing with shirts. We have sample sizes in and everybody tries on a sample size. When we go to our shirt makers, because we're not making them. We're not sure makers, we get direct measurements of the shirts, several across the shoulder width of shoulder width itself end to end shoulders, the depth of the armhole, the chest measurement, the waist, the hip, the length of the front, the length of the bank, the length of the sleeve, the width of the cuff width for the elbow, if you measure a shirt that way of a customer, we're going to show that he likes change one or two things. How are you? How can it be what do you need, for example? Do you have you offered different cuffs as well? Yeah, yes. But in terms of what was also being asked in the cuff department or any kind of eccentrics? Well, to be honest with you, the shirts it we've gone through that period of time where we were one of the first we used to come to one of our manufacturers is out in Singapore. And they do some unbelievable stylings. And you've got different colours, this idea of edging down here, and then the village where people copied it. They all went avant garde with it, and everyone fell out right now, the slip, the shirts are coming down, you get a little bit of detail, maybe a different kind of button, all the buttons to stitch dominant, particularly something more subtle, definitely the fresh side of shirts is old hat now, everybody's worn it, somebody wore a shirt, like Mickey Mouse, you know, people will go over the top, we have one customer of mine who has made himself a fortune in finance. And he used to say surname, first name is Martin. And he said, lots of trips made. And he knew I could do anything. And I had an agreement with him. I said to them, so Martin, when I say one word, it means we're stopping. We're not going to put that onto the show. Right? And the word was clown. He said, I won't do that. Do it. I'll go Martin clown. Okay, fine. Yeah, some of the stuff he had done. I said, I'll tell you what, if you go any further now I'm not gonna find it. Do you find it also a little bit strange when the women would have a different opinion to what the guy has? Right? I'm wearing a shirt. Now we're talking about kind of cloud. Every time. I wear a shirt now that I'm kind of like, well, I don't know where I'll get it. But then my girlfriend goes, this is like the best show I've seen you in I still kind of got zero confidence in it. But you know, there's there must be when a woman comes in and the guy coming together that she'll have something that you about Jesus Christ lady, and you're well, you know what you sell when you sell a woman? You don't tell the man? Right? Yeah. Because she's wonderful. Look at it. And if you don't know what you've done, she'll tell it and you won't come back. Yeah. And but we don't do it. You do it upfront. You just look at the guy Say what? Okay, I can't take two decisions here. Who's the boss? You've got Charles has actually got a dress. I have a feeling you're gonna have to behave yourself. But I've never had a woman ever come into my shop and say, I want my child or my husband to have charges that back. Even if they're pleased, they still want to slim at the back. They never want to beg you bear trousers. They like to see a man. It's rare to be sexist. They like it nice and tight. They don't like it looking bagging on the old man. But yeah, you do sell to the ladies. And I'll tell you it sounds a bit BSE when I told you this. But it's not. It's true. You sometimes get a guy and he can be 60 years old. But he looks older than me when I was 17 or so he looks older than me is dressing all his attitudes. But she's 60 but she dresses like she's 50. Yeah, she looks elegant. Nothing. Oh, yeah. Well, you know, who's your daughter? You don't say you're friendly. But that's what you think. And but at the same age. So what you're doing in conversation when you're talking to you, then I style him without even telling him to a degree on her right now. Because I know that she's going to be happy with me making him look younger. Right? I say Yeah. And that's something you do. So it's, you know, when john Carter, great Carter as he was when he taught me, you know, one of the first things he taught me, it's true. I say to my customers, when I talk to him, he told me half of what you fit on a bespoke suit. Is the mind the other half is the body. Right? Or true? Would that because you're going to have two customers who measure exactly the same thing right? One would want a loose baggy fitting jacket put loads of crap inside the pocket see the other one's a peacock on one sleeve and on two different sizes completely. Yeah, it's what they want. It's what they want to look like what they want to feel like and that's what you have to get into the headsets are bespoke tailor. What am I saying? Who was actually the 17 week president of the Federation? Well, that's still alive. It sounds a bit wofully but I know where he's coming from. He said, what I can't assume for man is a portrait in cloth. Hmm. So I like that. I'm not heard of that. Yeah, that's what he said. And I'm only first of all not but you often have it. Any it's always very gentle men are very lovely man. But he he said that I thought Really? That's a bit waffling. Yeah, I know what he's saying. He meant it. He loved the trade. As much as I do. Do you? Do you illustrate and draw as well before cutting or I can sketch I've got no skills as a drawing and things like this. I mean, I can cut obviously cut by hand, I can draw out my trousers use a set square. So when I make a patent for a pair of trousers, all I have is a tape measure at the set square, a piece of chalk and a pencil onto the card. And I draw, I can do that. But yeah, I can sketch out enough but actually, with the internet now, not such a bad thing because you can go on and find any continent, you know, you want you're like me, I like that sort of look. And then you can talk about that. And we've always got fortunately we're busy. Always got stuff hanging out and people we've got all my sunset when we change the shop man earlier this year. So then we get we're all the way to where we've got to have more buses and more models or more mannequins, and we're gonna make bomber jackets gonna make knitwear and we're gonna spray them all so when people come in, it gives them a picture. Yeah, and it's what you've always done in selling anyway. When I know my customers are coming in and they come in and I leave stuff hanging around because I just know they're gonna see it they're gonna chalk it up because they all know I do it by the way. No one better Okay. What have you bloody set up in this room today? You've left something that simventure we have every single one of our customers on first name terms everyone several all my friends out there when I told him I said what do you mean first name? Sure. You call him sir Mr. said no first time everyone. 1500 customers or more we've gotten the books. And we know their first names and wives names and their first name so we're following up with the wife answers the phone. You know her name is very personalised and it makes them feel special. When I found people when they were working in offices p phone someone else? Oh, you finished everybody. Can you come in on Saturday or whatever? And sometimes I pick up the phone. I say it's Jeff. It's your title. If I tell you say that out loud in front of you. Oh, it's my title on the phone. It sounds good. It's my table if I just my take on the phone. Jeff, I mean, you're the I don't know. blow smoke up your ass, but you'd be the star for many people's eyes. I mean, you said you were in the audience for Bob Monkhouse and you were the only person that wasn't a star. But you look at you look back on that tape. Now for anyone that'd be interested in knowing who made the seeds from Bob Monkhouse. And if they camera pan to you, you wouldn't be the odd one out. It's like, Oh, that's the guy that made all those wonderful suits. Right? So yeah, I'm gonna start and tailor that actually knows how to cut suit. And I do that. Yeah, I know what you're trying to say. And you're not trying to blow up. I understand that. But I've many people have met the customer, literally last week met me and I won't say who he is. But he sold out. He was in business with a very famous gentleman. And they sold out a business for over 100 million. And he come up from sorry to have a suit made. And he stood in my shop after he picked up a server maintenance from jeans and the casual side. He said, Jeff, he said you are very unique. So you got to promote yourself more. I don't know how you can do this. You said you can't explain what it's like when you when you meet you and your enthusiasm. Yeah. He said you can't get I said you can't get that I said I'm gonna get a video done a small video done of me kind of certain talking like, are they talking to you but not for somebody like that probably for three or four minutes, so that we can get over the couple. My boys are the same. My boys the way they serve people. When I'm upstairs in my cutting room at the shop. Very often new customers are coming. I guarantee you within two or three minutes. They're laughing. Right? There's laughter going on. And I've had other customers upstairs with me when that's been happening. And there's a bit of fun downstairs and said no, it's not fun, actually. So the boys have just told me about the garlic price of the soup. It's the same funny every time but it's part of the band. But that's important. And the personal service silence and the care and attention to detail. It has to be that way. As I said earlier, you don't just do this for the money. Yeah, I mean, I've honestly been But either way, and I haven't got to work necessarily now anymore, but I choose to want to work in family businesses because he was the boss. Good. Come on anyway. So we've got to do a wash. We've got it. As I say in any business. You said like your father's business. When you're busy evening or whenever the day off. You kind of got to work take it particularly after what's happened with COVID. And don't forget, I told you I lost my business. I lost everything. Almost three houses I had to start all over again. It was very difficult. So once you've gone through that If you don't like about your business, do it. Do you listen to music or anything like that when you cut your loved one who's in the 60s boys on a bit more on the soul, blues, and that Otis Redding. And that kind of thing from the 60s it will kind of stay near as the Marty boys and that sort of stuff that was that kind of music. And we were very fortunate where we lived here in Los and next was is Dunstable. And it was a fabulous ballroom there were what used to happen with the talk of the town was open all those years ago, all the stars used to come over from America, the town the Motown people that you know, everybody, all the famous people. And they used to come and do a gig at the California ballroom, which is this Ballroom in Dunstable. And do eight o'clock for 45 minutes, get in a body minibus and God will talk to and get paid twice. I saw everybody unbelievable. So that was the music I played when I'm cutting to hear my little room. I've got very old piano unit here. I've just been early so I just really listening to a lot of the old Sinatra duets with him. Modern I'm not really been a rock and roll man. You know, I when I was a kid, I loved the people. I first came out I love the stones. In fact, actually, as I've got older, I think I preferred discounts but I didn't have time. I love I loved connecting. I would love to have Eric Clapton. I love I love blues. You know the stories of Eric Clapton when he went over to Chicago. And he wanted to play again they've got Buddy Guy and now we're King or BB King, whatever in the club. And he said, I want to play the blues and they say you can't play the blues, your wife. And then we went, we went to a gig at the Albert Hall. Where is our collection with Buddy Guy, BB King and Albert King. He bought 10 1520 years later, so Okay, now now you can come on. Even just stripes. Yeah, you know, he no hate. So I love I love music with feeling. I'm not particularly classical music, some of that I love. There's a wonderful So James Brown. You've heard of James Brown? Yep. Yeah, absolutely. There's a wonderful he was a fantastic piece of music. Go on YouTube. Now James Brown was know very much for it's a man's world is one of his famous songs. Which sounds so much like it's a male chauvinist song, but it's exactly the opposite because it's a man's world. But he read nothing without a woman. There's what you're saying. But if you want to see something a bit different, and see him sing it with Pavarotti. Oh, we're watching James Brown singing it's amazing as well is. The orchestration is in Paris about a year before James Brown died a few years before February. I've never seen two jugs of music put together. It was a night that he had Pavarotti at different people coming on all night long. Grace Jones had just been on with him and then and then James Brown comes on. But it's a man's world is one. Oh, I think I remember seeing in the Pavarotti documentary when he brought in all the unusual artists that you would associate. It was I think it was 2012 in Paris. But the audience is massive that orchestration of singers. But I remember seeing a four ladies sitting there backing singers sitting behind Pavarotti, and he's singing and James Brown. How you can get Pavarotti singing. It's a man's world with James Brown. For women with and I've looked at it several times. Their faces the joy on their faces about what they were hearing from James Brown singing it's so soulful and so bluesy and in Pavarotti with these wonderful, operatic voice, and it's the same piece of music is just it's a weird alchemy, isn't it? It's like when Freddie Mercury who was would have been 75 yesterday 75 today? Yeah, I know. Yeah. What a man he was. I never went to Geneva once it's always become the statue there for the memorial for me and by the late on wonderful. He was a number one before his time again, same as Jimi Hendrix. Is that you? I come from? modern stuff. Not so much. It's my age. I suppose. I'm 70 you get bored my boys are bought up with soul music. Kind of Motown to a degree but I was more of a soul man. What's more snacks and Atlantic? Aretha Franklin? nice brown. Did you see any of these that the Granada I know my old man sir. A lot of acts at the Granada. You mentioned Jimi Hendrix. I didn't see Jimi Hendrix. I didn't even see it was ready. When Otis Redding got killed. It was only 27 I think I made a black boat. So my morning I made I made one of my first service I was a black kid mode. So I made a black so it was always like I never I never forget it. And his voice was just so soulful women is you know is these arms of mine and pain in my heart and all these sorts of things like that if I have to have music that has a feeling that can be classical as well as it happens, although I'm not deeply into classical, but it has to have a feeling. I mean, I love some of the stuff that you look at Adele when she did her stuff. And Amy Winehouse you know what When a new work came out there was there was a is even, there has to have a feeling. It's not just a bloody song. I mean, it is about their lives, obviously. You know, there's lots. There's lots of new people. Yeah, but I've been stuck in my ways at my age now. And don't go change in complete fashion. Jeff, I've got a bit of a heart out, I have to get the dog out. But I heard I heard barking. It's been a real treat talking to you tonight. And you're planning to take your bits out there. But well, I'll probably just put this all up. I mean, it's, it's been fascinating. I just got if, if I'm interested, I just assume everybody else's as well. That's just me. Well, there you go. It's good fun. It's been it's been a pleasure talking to you. I appreciate what you're doing. And obviously the connection with, you know, the James Bond and all that the story of that. I think it's wonderful. And it's all about fashion. It's all about clothes and the whole thing about it. And it's lovely. You know, that's fine. But the pictures in here with buddy, Steve McQueen and the Rat Pack, you know, and it's, you know, it's lovely. I made for Michael Buble as well. People like that as well. Yeah, yeah. I saw on the client list. Yeah. But Michael, I've met him purely by chance, when, in fact, you know what you said earlier about Michael Parkinson boober. I've been on Parkinson, we'd heard a couple of songs. Then we heard him suddenly it was partisan, and the Lord. He did a private little gig at the Catholic group on the Monday night after being on parking. And then we managed to get in the door, which is well before he became internationally famous. And then we go in there, I won't go through the whole story. But I ended up meeting him because I tried to do a favour for a lady that was sitting with us in Canada who got a lovely picture of Michael with her but not shine. And she was saying what has happened, this lady and I thought I'm gonna go and find and get to sign it. No, I might go for the whole story. But when I left, I spoken to him. When I left, I managed to get him to get it signed. When I left, I left my credit card. But this is fight for up. And I believe in fate 100% I think my credit card behind a bar, we're getting a cab to get the train to come back onto losing my face. And I just got a call in the cab are sort of ain't paid to go go go go and get my car. So I went back into the hall. He said Catherine great, not a big price. went up to the bar to get my card to actually sign and Michael was there ever else has gone is a few girls about a few press about talking to him. And he saw many came over and he said you're the gentleman that asked me to sign for that lady, just to let you know, I didn't find the target or sorry, you didn't know that get you know, just saw her share that lovely picture. That was really nice of you. And he's looking at me on boot and so good, right. So I've got a three piece on tie. I'm looking as I should do, and I can see he's looking at my suit. He got a suit on which wasn't that clever. I don't know what it was. I looked at him. I said, Yeah, you're looking at the suit now, aren't you? I said you could do better, you know, he said, Are you are you are you a tailor? So I said yes. And we were just driving up a little shop in New Berlin street with my friends denim and got up eating pretty cookie. And I chatted him up and said about I also make time for you regardless. But you know, you're International. We got to every place. He said he said I love what you're wearing. He said, Give me your business. Oh, yeah. So I said to him, I said, I don't take business cards out. He said What do you mean, you just pitch to me? He said, actually, Michael, I didn't pitch it. You just come and have a chat with me. Don't take business cards out when I'm out to play. I'm out for play and enjoy your music. And he told me he didn't do that. I said you know, I haven't got a card. I'll try and get you on your website. So you'll find that arch Nevermind. It's not it's not gonna be he got caught battling boys agent and speak to somebody for some press. And when I go over to pay my bill, and I said to them, the waiter said we got to serve yet. So we got no serve. Yeah, I've got I've got a bio pen from them. And I wrote my phone number on it. And I walked over to Michael said I haven't got a business card but can't be more personal in that ring review. Interesting family the next one. Nice favour. First, I made his first so again, black kid, my ratio, mohair lovely silk, pure silk shirt. And that made necessary for him. And he wore that the first time we did the Albert Hall. I went to see him at the Royal garden hotel and got everything great. He loved it. We were talking music. And you asked me about music. And I said to him, Michael, I said I love some of your music. I said but let me ask you a question. I said, Would you ever do try a little tenderness? You know, try a little tenderness. If you don't don't that we don't. Otis Redding did it. Okay. So a wonderful bit of soulful music. Now when I first met my wife, parents were into big band and jazz. And I, when I first met my father in law, God rested we got a few years ago I remember he, he said to me, he wasn't immediately right. So I said, I love overtraining. So what sort of what sort of tracks that he knew about? He said, he loved his music. I said, I love it. I love his tracks, try a little tenderness. He said, Yeah, I've got that bush and he did it first. I had no idea. I said, No, it's ready. No, no, he said, I'm telling you now I've got it on. RCA. I've got the LP here. So I didn't know. So I said to Michael Buble. I said Michael Would you like to try a little tenderness? He said, that's a great job. And I said once a year, but Michael, which version would you do Frank Sinatra, or would you like to do over 20? He said, You do know your reason. And I said, Yes, I do. And guess what? On the next CD, it was on try little 10 minutes. Wow, I never I never held him. I can never keep people like if he got traded on him. I can never keep people like that because they get International. They get agents, big companies, the likes of the boss in their mind is this will give them the suit for nothing. I'm not working for nothing, so you can't keep my speaking gap. Now, it's been my pleasure. Thanks again. Welcome. I've got a Chinese bloody thing off now. Thanks, Jeff. Thanks, Jeremy. I suppose you always mine. How about that? Tony, who's gonna be a good one. Wow. Jeff, thank you so much for sharing those stories taking us down memory lane. And I got to say that's probably one of the best podcasts that we've we've done. No disrespect to the other 130 odd guests we've had on the show. But boy had a great time. Hope you did, too. menswear. style.co.uk is a place where we'll put over the show notes over there. Good luck to my editor transcribing all that. I'm sure it'll be His pleasure. And you can also find us on social at men's wear style for updates on more podcasts, articles on lifestyle travel and whatnot. Thanks again, Jeff. I can't remember out of all that where I gave the website out. I think it's just in case. This is SR and hicks.com is the place you can go and do go over and and find out some more great stories, photos of the clients that he's had there and I'm just looking at him now some beautiful ones of Barry McGuigan, Bob Monkhouse. So yeah, it's a great place to hang out. And obviously if you get to speak to Jeff, I'm sure he would love to tell you some more stories. In the meantime, that is it for me. Hope you've enjoyed this. Until next time,