Who are my favourite tailors? (Part two)
Please read part one of this article, here, before this one. Without that context, setting out my priorities, this summary will likely be misleading. Everyone is different, wants different things from bespoke, and simply gets on with people differently.
Assuming you’ve read and digested it, here are the bespoke tailors I prefer after 15 years of trying around 60.
It’s a short list, but I don’t think people benefit from having that many - it removes too many of the pleasurable aspects of tailoring.
If you would like feedback on others - perhaps because you live in a different country and are picking from a different group - please let me know in the comments and I’ll help any way I can.
Also remember there is a breakdown of the styles of 25 major tailors in this Guide, with photos and measurements. There is also a list of all the tailors I have reviewed, with links to those reviews, here.
Soft, casual style: Sartoria Ciardi, The Anthology
Most of the time, the tailoring I wear is Neapolitan in style: soft chest, soft shoulder, open and rounded shape. It can be smart, but it’s the only style I like with jeans and chinos.
Neapolitans are not always the most reliable, and sometimes the level of finish isn’t great. Some also tend towards a close fit and a short length. Sartoria Ciardi, however, has been uniformly excellent for me, with a great fit every time and a naturally roomier cut.
The finishing is good for Neapolitan, they visit London frequently enough and I get on well with Enzo. His English isn’t perfect, but a colleague he now brings with him is fluent.
The Anthology’s cut is slightly different from Ciardi, with some Florentine influences meaning the shoulder is more extended and the fronts more open. But it fits the same function.
English, smart style: Steven Hitchcock, WW Chan
Although Neapolitan style can be smart, there is always something sharper and more elegant about English tailoring, and I adore it. If I can, I would always want that style in my wardrobe - to be worn smartly, with smart trousers.
Among English cuts, the one I’ve found I prefer is the ‘drape’ style. But I must emphasise that a big part of this is what flatters my body, plus a subjective preference for the look. Not everyone wants to make sloped shoulders even more so.
The drape-style tailor I’ve had the best consistent experience with is Steven Hitchcock. It’s a narrow thing, as I also like Anderson & Sheppard and highly rate Whitcomb & Shaftesbury. In the end the difference is tiny points of style and of relationship - even stupid things like I’ve had more made with Steven, so I've been able to dial in fit and style.
I also add WW Chan to this section because, while not English, their cut is slightly smarter and the product is very well executed. They deserve a higher profile. The biggest downside is access, as they only visit London twice a year.
Structured, stylised: Michael Browne, Edward Sexton
Most people would be fine with just one of those categories above, and with just one tailor within it. If I were starting again - and if writing about menswear were not my job - I would only stray outside of them in order to wear a different, unique style.
Two clear examples of that are Michael Browne and Edward Sexton. My top coat from Michael feels different to any other coat I’ve had made, or indeed worn at all; my double-breasted suit from Edward is dramatic, storied and made to be noticed.
I’d suggest someone else might like to use one of these to make a tuxedo, or another piece of evening wear where a statement is less unusual.
Trousers: Whitcomb & Shaftesbury
Again it’s a tiny difference, but Whitcomb & Shaftesbury have made the best-fitting trousers I’ve had. Their offshore service makes bespoke more justifiable, and given I wear trousers just with knitwear so much these days, it seems reasonable to use one tailor for them.
Whitcomb are also a great team, and they’re very accessible. Visiting tailors lose out in terms of access and I prefer the neat, fine English finishing these days to any fussiness of double-buttoned waistbands or lapped seams (again, as detailed in part one).
Does this mean I’m only going to use three or four tailors going forward? No.
Most obviously, covering bespoke is my job so I will cover new tailors that readers might be interested in, and ones that fit different criteria to mine (such as style, access or budget). In the coming months that will include Paolo Martorano, Assisi and Fred Nieddu, for example.
There is also a case for covering new styles from existing tailors. Readers have asked about the double-breasted cut from The Anthology and from Whitcomb, for instance.
More subtly, there are some tailors with whom I’ve built a great relationship over the years, and would probably want to continue to use. They include Pirozzi, who would be a strong challenger for Ciardi had I not used the latter so much, and Nicoletta Caraceni, whose biggest issue is access (she doesn’t travel). Lorenzo Cifonelli too, who uses denim and suede like no one else.
If I was advising a reader, I might suggest they could use one of these as an indulgence, after years of establishing a working wardrobe. A Cifonelli denim DB or a Liverano ulster as a birthday present, perhaps, fully aware of the disadvantages of using a tailor as a one-off.
Comparing bespoke tailors is unfortunately not a one-dimensional or entirely objective process, easy as that would be.
But all the tailors mentioned here have made me a great-fitting suit or jacket, as they said they would, when they said they would. That’s really what most readers want when they ask who I recommend, and it's what I attempt to set out in the PS reviews.
It’s when you pick between the various tailors that things get more personal. Hopefully this two-part explanation of my particular preferences helps others make their own decisions.
Do let me know who your favourite tailors are, on what criteria, in the comments below. Especially if you've been doing this for several years and have lessons to pass onto everyone else.