The expert Savile Row cutter satisfies his need for balance between art and form with his family’s tailoring tradition
Davide Taub head cutter at Gieves and Hawkes
The garment’s passage begins as customer meets cutter. We don’t use salesmen, as we believe it’s nicer for a client to meet the person who will physically make their garment. They’re better equipped to discuss style details and advise on types of cloth, which will help to create their unique block. By offering our passion and expertise, we’re able to help the customer to build up their own personal style vocabulary.
A suit is an investment in time. We spend 80 to 100 hours crafting and building value into the garment from the very first measurements. Fittings are three to four weeks apart and we ensure that the client’s body shape, culture, lifestyle, profession and environment are considered every step of the way. The longevity of the garment is the priority. Flannel may be a favourite fabric, owing to its beautiful colours, textures and patterns, but the surface can wear down quite quickly. Merino and escorial may not be the most luxurious or expensive, but they still feel beautiful, while also being durable.
Everything is done in-house – cutting, tailoring, pressing and alternations – so we’ve forged a very closely knit team. There are about 15 people in the workroom, including coat-makers, a waistcoat maker, trouser makers, bespoke professionals, pressers and hand-finishers. And there is a strong sense of camaraderie between us.
It’s very Zen in the workshop. I would say 80% of what we do is handwork, so you barely even hear a sewing machine creak. If you go in there, you’ll find about 10 tailors sewing with their heads down in silence. People come from all over the world to buy the most beautiful and prestigious suits from Savile Row. The team’s focused mentality shines through, because they understand that.
You certainly get attached to the garments you create. Suits may look the same from a distance, but they have the character of both the customer and the tailor woven into them. There is a small ticket inside customers’ suits’ pockets with the tailor’s and my initials, to acknowledge those who worked on it. Enjoyment in creation also often comes from the relationship with customer. A little bit of you always goes out with the suit as it leaves through the door.
Tailoring is in the family. My dad and grandad worked in the East End and my dad, Colin Taub, is a semi-retired cutter and tailor who still owns a business in Hackney. At the weekend, when I was a child during the 1970s and early 1980s, I used to go to my grandad’s workshop, also based in Hackney. He would give me cloth and chalk and I used to sit under the table and draw. As I got older, I never thought about working in tailoring, as it wasn’t trendy at the time. It was only after taking a tailoring foundation course at the London College of Fashion in 1999 and walking into the Kashket & Partners workshop in central London a year later that I finally felt I had come home.
My first job was a baptism of fire, working at Kashket & Partners on ceremonial garments for military professionals at Sandhurst and Buckingham Palace. It opened my eyes to different ways of cutting and the genesis of the bespoke and rationalised, or purpose-driven suits, which we see now. Like military gear, suits have a practical function, so we employ a lot of military references in our work at Gieves & Hawkes.
In this industry, it’s not about how skilled you are, but how passionate and dedicated you can be. Trainees who are naturally gifted may get bored, as Savile Row tailoring can be monotonous and repetitive, using techniques hundreds of years old. You must be able to practise and keep going without being told. It may not sound exciting, but the reward is in the privilege of waving the cloth you sculpted, moulded and sewed with your hands out the door.
Knowledge of the past informs innovation. The practices of bespoke tailoring may be traditional, but we use these time-honoured references drawn from 200 years of practice on Savile Row to create something entirely new. By training apprentices, we ensure the longevity of these practices. Employing apprentices is vital in ensuring that these techniques are not lost over time, but passed through the generations.
I don’t use the word ”perfectionist”, as it makes perfection seem achievable. It’s all about progression. One stitch or cut doesn’t seem any different from the next, but you still keep working to make it more beautiful each time. It’s a cliché, but the more I learn, the more I want to know, so I’m going to keep learning.
I needed to do something creative, but functional. Bespoke tailoring fitted really well within that, but I would have gone into something like furniture- or jewellery-making if not.
1991 – 1995 Studied BA in architecture at the University of Brighton
1999 – 2000 Part-time certificate in men’s tailoring at the London College of Fashion
2012 Head bespoke cutter, Gieves & Hawkes, Savile Row
2010 – 2012 Head cutter, Maurice Sedwell, Savile Row
2008 – 2010 Director, cutting assistant and tailor, Edward Sexton Bespoke, Knightsbridge
2005 Awarded best menswear prize, Merchant Taylors’ Golden Shears Competition
2004 – 2008 Tailor and cutter, Maurice Sedwell, Savile Row
2000 – 2004 Tailor, Kashket & Partners, central London