Ketan Jethwa, Creative director at bespoke tailoring company Tailoring UK in Leicester
My business has run for six generations and I’m lucky to have manufactured in the UK, where many firms have opted for the overseas production model and often not through choice.
Cost is a huge factor, but for me, quality and personal service are why people want a bespoke suit, and they will pay if corners aren’t cut. Skills shortages do make UK manufacturing more difficult, and as a business it is important for us to train our staff.
For example, to service an enormous summer sporting contract in London, I recruited and trained 24 fashion graduates. I now employ five of them at my Kensington store, while the rest have benefitted from the skills they learned in other jobs.
They had the basic skills when they arrived, but we taught them short cuts that didn’t compromise quality at a commercially viable pace.
The biggest perceived threat is agents operating here for foreign manufacturers. But they just don’t compare on quality. Poor-quality lining canvases, cheap fabric collar backs and the omission of details such as flash cuffs and jetted pockets are common as foreign designers have little knowledge of the UK market’s preferred fashions. The way a bespoke suit is presented is key - and often those from abroad arrive rolled up in a parcel. One nil to UK tailors.