Tuesday, 12 October 2010

"Cutting your coat to your cloth" genuine bespoke offerings

In these tough times where many businesses have to curtail expenses to income and live within their means, it is instructive to return to where these phrases salespeople use daily originate.

Walking through London’s Savile Row, home of the finest English classic tailoring I came across the unexpected sight of two flocks of sheep is grazing. The breeds I was informed were’ Exmoor horns’ from Warminster and’ Bowmonts’. Bowmonts w are a cross between Saxon Merino and Shetlands are the closest derivative our country has to Australian Merino.

It was a sales /PR promotion of course called the Savile Row Field Day.

The event’s sponsors were the Campaign for Wool, Fox Brothers (flannel, and luxurious woollen and worsted cloth) and fabrics business Dormeuil still run by family members whose founder Jules Dormeuil at the age of 22 years started a business importing English cloths in 1842 and of course Savile Row Bespoke.

That word bespoke got me thinking.

Professional salespeople in all kinds of businesses use that expression unconsciously many times. Similarly Buyers increasingly ask for bespoke solutions without perhaps really knowing what a truly bespoke solution involves

So I ascended the steps into one of the shops - No 11 Savile Row. I wanted to find out how sales professionals ,who really do offer their clients a truly bespoke solution in 2010, operate.

Huntsman is a business that has been in the forefront of bespoke tailoring since 1849.

Just think about that fact.

They have sold through many recessions, wars, the stock market crash of October 29, 1929, and subsequent world depression and the heady glories of fashion booms.

In their brochure they quote Oscar Wilde’s witty remark:
“One should either be a work of art, or wear a work art”

Huntsman will sell:-
“Ready to wear”
They offer “made to measure”
But what they do best is “bespoke tailoring”
Huntsman define their bespoke offering as hand cut and sewn entirely at Huntsman’s Savile Row premises at No. 11..

At £47 an hour the production of a two piece suit takes 85 hours. Put like that £4,000 price tag seems very reasonable if you are someone who really appreciates the very best quality.

From the first individual pattern cut out of brown paper there are further stages such as ‘figuration’ the cut of dimensions into a ‘baste’ and so on.

Many special trades and roles make the whole experience there

Some of the roles:-

The cutter - is responsible for taking the measurements, drafting the pattern, cutting the fabric, fitting the garments and overseeing the whole process.

The coat maker - is responsible for making the jacket. He receives a bundle of cloth from the cutter and takes the garment to the baste stage and to all subsequent fitting stages - Aside from the cutter, the coat maker is the most important person working on the suit.

The finishers - undertake felling (hand-stitching) all linings and edges.

Specialist presser - pressing is a crucial and underrated part of the process - the jacket is expertly pressed by hand in stages to allow certain parts of the jacket to dry.

The bespoke alteration tailors - responsible for any fine tuning at the final fitting stage - will also alter or refurbish any old garments if a client loses weight over time.

Sales manager Matthew Cowley is the consummate trusted advisor in matters sartorial.

He kindly gave me some of his time when the showroom was quiet on strict request from me to attend to any real prospective clients entering the store during our short interview.

90% of the suit business is for blue and grey cloths but these Huntsman professionals can read a cloth and a client with skills that are like a Harley street consultant surgeon who know within three paces that you have L5S1 prolapsed disc before you have opened your mouth.

Similarly these guys don’t just read body language but can read your individual body with all its variances.

Have Huntsman noticed the effects of dress down business culture?

Yes there was a slight drop in accessories such as ties a few years back but now classic smart attire is back big time.

The 2007 Buyer Views of salespeople found:-
Buyers Dress Code
63% formal.
37% casual
Dress Down Day
24% yes
76% no.
Visiting a Customer on their dress down day
53% Dress to match 47% remain formally dressed

When a customer visits you on your dress down day 52% expect the salesperson to be formally dressed.

Anecdotal comments included :
“Standards are slipping”

“Flexibility at all times”

“I‘m the customer - so dress to impress- I
want to see you have made an effort
form. It doesn’t have to be formal, but it
should be clean and smart”

For Hntsman that is good for cross sales in accessories. A tie at Huntsman could set you back £100 or 0.025 % of the cost of the suit however you want to perceive it.
Of course with top quality the follow up and maintenance of the product is important.
A Huntsman suit should have a ‘sponge and press’ couple of times a year advises cutter Dario who I met outside in the street. Dario is a paragon of sartorial smartness himself. Huntsman staff walks their talk.

It is not just whether the cap fits – the suit fits.

Whilst a Huntsman client visits to have their suit sponged and pressed, they might as well consider about the next suit for upcoming season whether it’s Spring/Summer or September to Christmas new business development is practiced continuously at Huntsman.

I guess that is a lesson for all newer businesses of our century that suddenly discover they need fresh revenues from new business development!

Huntsman’s web address is

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