BESPOKE WINTER SUITS
Johns & Pegg
“If you look like the odd-job man, people will think you are the odd-job man.” “Clothes are a sign of our consideration for others: they should be such that people feel comfortable in our presence.”
These two remarks now constitute the founding declarations of CADDD – the Campaign for the Abolition of Dress-Down Days. The wicked notion that the suit should be put aside one day a week – because slovenly attire puts us at our ease and makes us work more efficiently – seems to have originated in the United States. Like much trendy nonsense it sounds liberal and liberating. In reality it is neither. Rather, it is tyrannical and oppressive. Friends who have been forced to comply with the dress-down instruction tell me of the misery which results. Not only the extra burden of rifling through the wardrobe in the early morning to find something suitable to wear, but also the unpleasantness of being confronted by colleagues in track suits and training shoes. And – if there is the possibility of a client unexpectedly having to be taken out to lunch – a decent set of clothes (i.e. a suit) has to be kept at the office anyway. The whole business is vile and burdensome.
Hence my campaign, and hence my admiration for the fine fellow who made the statements with which I began. He is Robert Bright, Master Tailor, Fellow of the Clothing and Footwear Institute and Managing Director of Johns & Pegg.
Johns & Pegg is one of England’s oldest firms of bespoke tailors – founded by the original Mr Johns (clearly a man of wide talents – he began as a gamekeeper) in 1858. Shortly thereafter it began to occupy a place at the very top of the Savile Row pyramid, supplying its wares to the inhabitants of Buckingham Palace. As it still does today, for the Royal Warrant of the Duke of Edinburgh hangs proudly in the shop in St George Street. (In the tailoring context the term ‘Savile Row’ applies not only to the Row itself, but also to the streets around the Row.)
I was attracted to Johns & Pegg by its history, its reputation and two other factors: its location and its ‘feel’. The shop has one of the prettiest outlooks in London – straight across to the early 18th Century columns and portico of St George’s, Hanover Square. So simply being in the place is a joy. Then there is the ‘feel’. I would venture that Johns & Pegg offers the purest experience of gentleman’s bespoke tailoring now to be had.
Outside there is no vulgar enticement to enter, only frosted glass and the sign: ‘Johns & Pegg, Tailor’. Inside there is no merchandise for sale – no shirts, no braces, no cufflinks. This is a tailor, not an outfitter. There are not even any examples of made-up jackets or coats. Apart from the framed Royal Warrant and a couple of engravings of St Botolph’s Church, Boston, the only decoration comes from the carefully stacked lengths of cloth. As Mr Bright told me: “Bespoke means that each garment is unique to the individual customer. It cannot be conveyed by a garment which was not made specifically for him. We aim to discover his desires, and then surpass them. It is a matter of confidence and trust.”
Like his observations on dress-down days, these words lifted my spirits. For I wanted a suit which would embody my new sartorial motto: No Compromise. It must be supremely elegant, perfectly made and convey the message that I care about my clothes and about the people I meet.
Specifically, I wanted the ultimate in stripes – with a twist. The twist would be the peaked lapels (the double-breasted sort) on the single-breasted jacket. (A blow to the anti-suit dullards who suppose that the suit lacks sartorial flexibility.) And the stripes would all be harmonised – running straight through the pockets, balanced at the front and back jacket seams, joining on the lapels and on the shoulders. All this would be no small feat. (If you own striped suits, examine them and see how frequently these time- and material-consuming details are neglected.) Otherwise the usual details applied: 4 cuff buttons to open, real horn buttons, turn-ups, high braces back to the trousers and pleats at the front of the trousers facing inwards in the English fashion.
For the material I chose a medium weight (12/13 ounce) classic black with a white rope stripe made by Wain Shiell in Huddersfield. The price? Something around £2,400, including V.A.T. Mr Bright would be cutting out the jacket pattern, and so measured me for the jacket. And then a surprise. A beautiful lady appeared. She was Mrs Fadia Aoun (from the Lebanon), the trousers cutter. Johns & Pegg might be soundly traditional, but it is not fuddy-duddy.
Eight weeks and only two fittings later, and the masterpiece was ready. Masterpiece? Yes. I use that word deliberately. For this is a piece clearly made by a master. My desires have, indeed, been surpassed. The fit is immaculate. And everywhere I look the stripes do exactly what they should do, which not only pleases me but also conveys a wonderful balance and harmony of appearance. Wearing this suit makes me feel good about myself and about the world. Can the dress-downers say the same of their shabby apparel?
If you too like to feel good about your attire and want to make society a better place for those of us who love the suit, join me in the Campaign to Abolish Dress-Down Days. And trot along to Johns & Pegg at 11 St George Street. Mr Bright is waiting for you – with his sound opinions and his ability to make you the suit of your dreams.
Johns & Pegg, Bespoke Tailors
Now part of:
Davies & Son
38 Savile Row, London W1S 3QE, England.
Telephone +44 (0)207 434 3016 & +44 (0)207 437 7986
Fax +44 (0)207 287 434
Two piece suits: from £2,120, including VAT (depending on material)
5% discount for full payment in advance
Regular visits are made to Paris and the U.S.A.