Ring… Ring… Hello this is Benjamin the most fabulous tailor ever of all time, what can I do for you?
Can I just ask if you also make suits, or can you only alter a suit that I buy??
I’m going to start charging R5 for every time I get asked this question, or am engaged in this conversation. Welcome to my judgmental discussion on menswear trends, the tailoring industry and life in general
What can the Green Tailor do for You?
I don’t get offended by this question anymore, because really there’s no harm done. Sometimes I think the sentence is just a means of introducing the topic, rather than an actual question. But I’ve had numerous conversations with people that were really surprised that the term tailor refers to more than just an alterations guy. I’ve even had people suggest I’m rather a designer, since I make clothes instead of just altering them!?!
Personally I’m not fussed about the title. But it bothers me that as a society, at least here in Pretoria it would seem, we’ve managed to forget about an entire category of person and the contribution they make to the world.
But Pretoria gents aren’t (for the most part) walking around naked…at least not where I’ve been hanging out. So what exactly is going on here, how are these men able to cover their nakedness, often well-styled, without the expertise of a tailor?
The short answer is a harsh truth about where suits are at today. Most gents today will, armed with sufficient knowledge from style blogs, be able to pick up a very decent suit for under R3000 at a retailer. Because the basic technology of suits hasn’t changed much since the 1900s, we’ve had a vast amount of time to hone our mass production skills to a phenomenally decent standard. And to be honest it’s now at the stage where only a handful of people can tell the difference between an well made suit off-the-peg and something bespoke.
As these off-the-peg suits become better in quality, more financially accessible, and more ubiquitous for the average workaday gent, what do tailors actually do these days?!?
Fear not peeps, we’re as f*cking busy as ever!! Tailoring is a tight knit industry and we all know each other, and we’re all so over worked it’s literally all we talk about when we hang out. So in a city where people have to ask if a tailor makes suits, who are the gents that keep us up late into the night? I think generally there are three sorts:
First there are the old school gentlemen. These men have, for one reason or another, been having their suits made bespoke for years, and they can’t really conceive of any other way. More frequently these are also the men who, since they’re spending the money anyway, are looking for something unique.
Something superbly well made is one thing, but something quite obviously one-of-a-kind is on a whole ‘nother level of making a statement
Second, although not really a well defined category, is the gent with a…erm…unique body. With suit production becoming ever more refined, the body types accommodated tend more towards the average than the outsiders. Large guys, very tall or very short guys, and (this I get a lot of) gym fanatics, all struggle to find suits that fit them decently.
Third, there is ALWAYS a new set of gents that have decided they’re bored of looking like they’re boring. I don’t know what it is about suits that seduces men so easily, but I’ve found almost all gents fantasize about wearing a good suit. And at some point, for some of these guys, they decide to take action on that fantasy, eventually joining the gents in category one.
And then of course there is indeed the endless stream of loose buttons, torn hems and baggy shirts that we tailors, in our magnanimous nature, are always all too happy to sort out ;)
No, tailoring is not dead. The affordable suits from Edgars have not relegated us to a life of alterations. Now, as since the beginning of time, tailoring is alive and kicking, having different meanings for different men at different stages of their lives.
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