Clothing Resources: Places to clean, alter and repair
One of the most frequent questions I get asked on the site is where I would recommend for getting suits altered - or knitwear repaired, or shoes resoled.
I’ve been meaning to create a single page with all these recommendations for a while, so I can point readers there and don’t have to reply in full every time.
So a selfish motivation, primarily. But I’m also hoping that this Resources page will become a useful reference document - something readers might bookmark and refer to.
Of course, as with most things on this site, this is just a list of my experiences and recommendations. So that does limit it a little, particularly geographically.
As a result, I’m thinking that if three or more readers recommend somewhere else, I will add it to the list, making clear that is why it is listed.
If anyone has any views on a different way to handle this, please do chip in.
Below, then, is a list of the places I have used, liked and can recommend, with a few comments and details on each.
Although dry cleaning should be done as infrequently as possible on tailoring (perhaps once a year depending on usage) there will be times when it is required, often with particularly tough stains.
The key to a good cleaner is one that will do pieces individually, and can press well - most high-street cleaners fall down on this point, ruining lapels and collars by pressing them flat.
- No street-facing space - operates through pick-ups (most areas in and around London)
- www.mnbespoke.com, [email protected]
- I’ve used Michael for a few years and he has been consistently good, on cleaning and pressing
- Part of a team now comprising George the presser, Celebrity Dry Cleaners and Tom (previously The Jaunty Flaneur)
- I've used all three and they provide a good, professional service
There are a few other good dry cleaners in central London used by Savile Row tailors, but they tend to just clean, with the tailor then doing the pressing. Those include Buckingham Dry Cleaners (Duke St, Mayfair) and Mr Steeds (South London, collects).
Holes or cuts in tailoring can often be repaired invisibly, reweaving the cloth so nothing shows afterwards. This can be expensive, usually from £80 up to £200 or £300; but if it saves a £4000 suit, it’s worth it.
Tailors use various people, mostly based at home outside London. But there is one good resource in Marylebone - British Invisible Mending.
- 32 Thayer Street, Marylebone
- www.invisible-mending.co.uk, 020 7487 4292
- Some work done on site, some sent outside
- I’ve used once, several years ago, with good results
Most alterations should, again, be done by the original tailor, but that’s not always easy with foreign tailors, or possible with ready-to-wear brands.
The ideal here is somewhere that is a tailor themselves, but is happy to do alterations on other tailors’ work.
- 12 Well Court, London
- www.grahambrowne.co.uk, 020 7248 7730
- I’ve had suits made at Graham Browne (run by Russell Howarth) and had many alterations done over the years.
Pinnas & Needles
- A great operation in Soho, though often busy
- Covered on Permanent Style here
- A decent service at 6 South Molton Street
- Maybe not quite as good on bespoke work, but solid
- 020 7493 9718
Some high-street dry cleaners have tailors in-house, who can deal with simple changes like shortening trouser legs, taking in trouser waists, and perhaps narrowing a jacket waist. I’ve used Atelier Colpani for such changes.
Most people should clean their knitwear more than they do - once every few months perhaps - and that helps with pilling and other signs of wear.
However, those that specialise in it can remove all pilling very effectively, as well as darning moth holes, and repairing collars and cuffs.
- Ladylaw Mill, Hawick, Scotland
- www.lovecashmere.com, 01450 377648
- Operates by post.
- I’ve used Love Cashmere a few times and been very impressed - see post here. Knitwear comes back cleaned, de-pilled, repaired and feeling like new - and it’s cheap, usually £20-£50.
- They can do all forms of repair, and even some alterations, such as slimming bodies. The latter is risky, however, and I sewed my own alteration for them to then fashion properly
Leather clothing repair and alterations
I wish I'd known I could get leather jackets altered earlier in my life. Stuck between a medium size on the shoulders and a small on the waist, I would often get the small as I knew a big waist would annoy be more.
In recent years, I've always bought the right fit on the shoulders (as should be done on tailoring) and had the waist taken in.
- 56 Chiltern Street, Marylebone, London
- www.cromfordleather.co.uk, 020 7935 1041
- Pauline and her team make for some large brands, offer their own line, and do all manner of repairs and alterations. I've had two jackets altered, and one repaired in the collar. I'm now having a made-to-measure jacket made.
- You can read more about her work and alterations on old pieces here
It’s usually best, and safest, to give your shoes back to the original maker to be re-soled. However, many of the English makers also use re-soling places in London for this work, and the three I’ve listed here are all used in that way.
They will also do some things you might rather not give to your shoemaker - such as changing the sole for a different style.
Kokos Shoes and Repairs
Fifth Avenue Shoe Repairs
- 41 Goodge St, Fitzrovia, London
- 020 7636 6705
Shoe polishing and patination
There is a very particular pleasure in polishing your own shoes. But if you’re lazy, bad at it, or want to change the colour with dyes (patination) then a specialist is needed.
They can also often help with things like cleaning or damage, and recommend other places for resoling or repair.
- c/o Cad and the Dandy, 13 Savile Row, 1st Floor, London
- www.thejauntyflaneur.com, 07546 324641
Tom Beecroft and Parijat Upadhyaya are ‘the Jaunty Flaneur’ based in the Cad and the Dandy space on Savile Row. PJ has patinated shoes a pair of Dovers me and helped clean some white nubuck ‘bucks’, both with great results.
They also work on leather goods such as bags and wallets, and can sometimes carve a tighter waist on shoes.
Trimmings and equipment
- Buttons and linings: Bernstein & Banleys
- Shoe polishing and other garment care: The Hanger Project
- Trimmings and sewing: MacCulloch & Wallis
- 25-26 Poland St, Soho, London, 020 7629 0311
Please do add your own thoughts, experiences and recommendations.
And by the way, things you should be able to do yourself include polishing shoes, sewing buttons, darning small holes, pressing trouser creases, steaming jackets, and looking after suede.
Some resources on PS that could help there are:
Here's to buying better, lasting longer, and loving more.