To attract, to diversify, to singularise: three yearnings that fashion responds to. Nothing better than a garment made to measure for an appealing and different look. Their clothes are quintessential London with an edge: artisans that stitch with style and singularity.
If we can say that culture begins with dressing well, then counterculture has turned its eyes to dressing exclusive: no labels, no multinationals, far from important designers and prêt-à-porter shows. Being modern today means wearing original designs, carefully thought for him or her and customised with details that expose their character. The tailor is a figure that has reinvented itself and sources ideas from beyond the classicism imposed by guild gurus such as those distinguished tenants on Savile Row, where the most elegant and well-off men on the planet get dressed.
“In Spain, we’ve always had the finest tailors who are now recycling themselves and contributing to a movement of more style and character on the streets”, says Fernando Garcia de la Calera, possibly the only tailor-artisan in the country specialised in tailor-made jeans. “Nowadays, London is as chic as Italy. Trends in male fashion are changing, men dare to wear more colour, more garments, more styles, and we can see that beautiful, fun and favourable clothes are on the increase”, Lander Urquijo explains. He is the most international of our designer-artisans and has even got his own shop in Paris.
The success of this designer lies not only in simple patterns and “the perfect fit”, but also in a range of colours that was until now unthinkable in formal male fashion. In addition, Urquijo spares no effort to ensure that a particular ingredient, sometimes disregarded by others, is given the care and innovation it deserves: his linings, which are simply spectacular.
Born in Bilbao and almost turned architect, instead he has revolutionised designs, colours and materials, and developed a way of doing things that allowed top products to be within reach for those on a budget. By and large, ad-hoc suits fall into two categories: bespoke – with a pattern cut exclusively for the client – or made to measure – adapting patterns to preexisting clients measurements.
The price difference between one and the other can be hundreds of euros. Today, Urquijo and other tailors have come up with an in-between system, based on standard patterns but with the possibility of alterations so as to fit each body to the millimetre. “That allows us to make suits to measure for 750 euros, even if a real Lander Urquijo bespoke suit costs around 1,300 euros”, the innovative artisan remarks.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE WORKSHOP
Fernando García de la Calera, founder of denim tailoring firm The Concrete Co., keeps his clients’ measurements as an absolute treasure. Every single garment is handmade. “The experience, together with how good the jeans look and the time they last in mint condition, is what keeps customers loyal. Once they realise they get to choose the fabric – usually, artisan indigos from Japan of the highest quality –, try it on as many times as needed to fit perfectly, and obtain optimum result in the shape of a comfortable and fl exible garment adapted to their bodies to the millimetre, they can no longer consider any other type of jeans”, Fernando explains. He makes jeans from 230 euros. Many times, they are tinged with natural products such as coffee or curry, and with leather motifs elaborated by himself in his little workshop in Malasaña, an alternative, cool neighbourhood in Madrid. “It’s important to have your own workshop. Some tailoring businesses measure and then outsource their suits; that’s where the essence of your design and good artisan practice could be lost”, Fernando says. He prefers to work together with a sewing professional right next door.
WITH AN INTERNATIONAL SPIRIT
It’s perfectly clear that this is the moment to revolutionise male design, including the most serious kind. Bespoke temples like the ones on Saville Row are experiencing a breath of fresh air. On number 30 of the emblematic street, you will find the workshop of the most innovative tailor on the international scene: Ozwald Boateng, a Londoner who combines like no one else the British college style in which he grew up with African colours and fabrics with prints of his ethnic group. Another name in a growing sector: in UK alone, 10,000 bespoke suits are manufactured every year, at no lower than 2,000 euros. “In this old fashioned panorama, some of us have come along with new and groundbreaking designs, proudly calling ourselves tailors and artisans”, says Paul, alma mater of Sastrería91 in Madrid. Do be careful, though, if you decide to pop into one of these workshops: the feeling of wearing a garment that blends in with your body is simply addictive.
THE FINEST TAILORS ARE NOW RECYCLING THEMSELVES AND CONTRIBUTING TO A MOVEMENT OF MORE STYLE AND CHARACTER
FERNANDO GARCÍA DE LA CALERA
ID: Skater as hobby and profession: Fernando started by drawing boards and t-shirts.
KEY GARMENT: Bespoke jeans, designed over Japanese material – with its famous white and red hem – and tinged with a mix of curry and coffee.
HIS CUSTOMERS: “Interesting types, of the mature kind, who are very clear about what they want and who they are”.
PHILIA VS PHOBIA: Denim jackets vs sleeveless feather jackets and shorts: “They just don’t make sense”.
AN OUTFIT MADE TO MEASURE REQUIRES 60 HOURS OF WORK, A MINIMUM OF FOUR FITTINGS AND TWO MONTHS PRODUCTION
ID: He wanted to be an architect but, for economic reasons, started working in a tailor shop: “and I fell in love with this world”.
A PIECE OF ADVICE: Allow people to advise you; look for what suits you, not what’s fashionable; and innovate as much as you can”
HIS CUSTOMERS: Paco León, Asier Etxeandía… there’s a cult of his tuxedos among Spanish actors.
PHILIA VS PHOBIA: Suits with skinny pants and trainers, grey tones vs short sleeve shirts… “worse with suspenders”.
LANDER URQUIJO: c/ Claudio Coello, 65. 28001 Madrid
, Rue des Quatre Vents, 75006. París landerurquijo.com