If you’ve ever tried to sew something, maybe for a school activity or a craft project, you know it’s not easy to cut the cloth correctly, then wrestle it through the sewing machine in good order. And sewing your entire project by hand takes loads of time and patience.
Steven Hitchcock doesn’t mind the extra work. He’s a bespoke tailor from Savile Row, the London street where generations of tailors have cut and created clothing by hand. A bespoke tailor makes each jacket, suit, or trousers for the buyer himself—measuring, cutting the pieces of cloth, and sewing the garment to fit that man.
Mr. Hitchcock was born into the business. His father, John Hitchcock, was a cutter and tailor for fifty-two years for Anderson & Sheppard, Savile Row tailors since 1906. Stephen started as an apprentice at Anderson & Sheppard, working for five years to learn to put together all the parts of a jacket, until he was invited to learn cutting with his father and Alan Pitt, another experienced tailor. Four years later, in 1999, he opened his own shop, moving back to Savile Row in 2009.
If you want to order, or “commission,” a suit from Mr. Hitchcock, he will personally take your measurements, cut paper patterns to use for the garment’s various pieces, then cut the cloth itself. His suits are “soft tailored,” which means there is little or no extra padding or stiff inner material to give the garment a specific shape.
He sees all the orders through himself, and as each suit takes many hours of work, he only makes three suits a week, about 150 commissions a year. In contrast, large clothing manufacturers can make up to 1,300 suits a day in their factories!
Mr. Hitchcock doesn’t follow trends in his custom work. No skinny lapels or really tight trousers will appear on his cutting board. “I am not a fan,” he told an online interviewer. “People will look back … [and] they will say, ‘what was I wearing!”
Bradley interviews Steven Hitchcock, bespoke London tailor, at his Savile Row shop.