In the past, I have been in the fortunate position to have worked with some of the most amazing wedding suppliers in Suffolk and across the UK, with many of which becoming great friends. I know that many of my prospective and current clients check out my blog from time to time to see what I’ve been up to, which got me thinking. What better way to introduce some of my trusted vendor friends to my clients than to give them the spotlight for 5 minutes here on my blog where they could tell us about their business, their inspirations and what makes them tick. So here you have it, a new series of interviews has been born, I hope you enjoy them.
Today I had the chance to sit down with Matt Oxborrow, one half of the talented team at Gentlemen by Conduct. A forward thinking bespoke tailors in the heart of Suffolk.
Ross: For those readers who may not have come across your work before, please can you tell us a little about your background and how you got into bespoke tailoring?
GBC: My business partner & I are childhood friends that share an appreciation for clothing and a penchant for fine things. At university and beyond we would talk about setting up a tailoring house. I studied Business & my business partner studied music so, unless we wanted to spend the next decade training, we had to find others to make the garments for us, which is what we did. After university we spent a few years planning it, gaining the skills, contacts and knowledge necessary before launching. It was a conscious decision about what we wanted to do with our lives and now we get to spend our time designing special clothing that makes men feel incredible, and we love it.
Ross: In three words how would you describe your brand/business?
GBC: Style, Confidence, Success.
Ross: Who or what inspires the creativity in your work?
GBC: Our gentlemen's lounge & design studio is full of photos of classic men's style icons from Hollywood's golden era & beyond such as Cary Grant, The Rat Pack, Fred Astaire, Steve McQueen & Paul Newman. Men from a time when ready to wear suits barely existed and dressing well was seen as a form of good manners. There are two of us here (The two Matt's) and it works well because we both have different styles and take our inspiration from different places & people. The other Matt wears a very straight, slim waisted, well structured, classic English suit & tie and I tend to wear an open necked shirt with suit separates (jacket & separate trousers) more often, with a slimmer, tapered leg & softer shoulders, more Neapolitan in style that reflects my love of all things Mediterranean. Bespoke clothing is as much as expressing an individual's personal style & character as it is producing quality clothing of impeccable comfort & fit.
Ross: What trends are you currently seeing when it comes to wedding tailoring and how do you predict the future looks for tailoring in the UK?
GBC: We are seeing more men putting effort into their wedding day attire. Men are catching up to the brides in that way and giving the day the and their brides the respect they deserve. Traditional tails are less popular - rather than renting a polyester morning coat worn by countless others, men are dressing accordingly and commissioning a suit to be made that reflects the wedding theme, something the bride is wearing and importance of the day on the inside of the suit, but is conservative enough on the outside to be a useful investment piece for other occasions & professional use for many years to come.
There are some dinner jackets & matching trousers (tuxedos) being worn for daytime weddings which isn't strictly correct as dinner jackets are evening wear and as such shouldn't be worn before 6pm, so we make sure our clients are aware of that fact before jumping in and wearing evening wear for daytime wedding.
Ross: How far in advance do you suggest guys come talk to you about their wedding suits?
GBC: Unless they want to pay for the express service, we recommend that groom's come in at least 2 months in advance, though it is a case of the earlier the better as with rehearsals coming up and last minute pressures it can be hard to schedule fittings. There are so many things to worry about when organising a wedding so we make ourselves responsible for the groom looking and feeling his best in a well cut, well styled, quality suit that makes for great photos that last a lifetime. The suits take 4-5 weeks to be made and then we have a final fitting to make any alterations so the groom is confident he is looking his absolute best. Two months allow for plenty of time for the perfect look to be achieved.
Ross: Which blogs or magazines do you recommend that couples check out, in order to gain inspiration?
GBC: There's an American blog called Gentleman's Gazette that is very well researched and has a wealth of sartorial knowledge available. We're currently building our blog around the idea of being a style resource for sartorial gentlemen including 'How To' & 'What To Wear' guides to help educate grooms and the modern gentleman on how to live well through dressing well.
Ross: What advice would you give couples when choosing their tailor?
GBC: Be aware of cloth, cut & construction. You can't make a quality suit from cheap cloth. You want it to be well-cut to flatter your shape. If a suit is cheap, and you want it to last, forget about it. The expense of a suit is largely based around the quality of the materials used, the time that goes in to making it and the construction. Make sure your suit has internal horse hair canvassing, if not it will be glued together, won't keep its shape and won't last. The process of commission a suit is not an impulse decision. It is a considered purchase, an investment and a tailor will happily discuss ideas through an initial consultation before any decision is made. There is no pressure. It is a romantic industry and pressured sales are frowned upon because a successful tailoring business is built on word of mouth and reputation which is only achieved by having happy customers and producing work of great quality.
Go and visit your tailor, discuss your wedding theme, time of day, time of year, colour. He will know which questions to ask you. It is a very informal, friendly conversation that educates and informs. You can then make a considered decision from there.
Ross: Finally, what's the best thing about being a bespoke tailor?
GBC: The way our work makes our clients feel. When clients put on their finished suit for the first time and get excited. Even conservative men can't wait for the opportunity to show off their new suit because it makes a man feel great to wear something of such quality that fits comfortably and expresses who you are. Making others feel good about themselves for work you enjoy doing is incredibly satisfying.