"It's all about the details"
This is what the photographer kept saying while he was photographing the suits for the website.
Never has a truer word been said in regard to bespoke suits, the magic is in the little details as each suit is as individual as the person who wears it.
I just want to write a little bit about why I am so passionate about bespoke menswear and how Niven Tailors came to be.
From a young age, I was always interested in clothes, especially how to look presentable and sharp. It helped that my father and his brothers always looked immaculate in their Hardy Amies designed suits for Hepworth's (now known as "Next"). I was very interested and there being no internet for research in those days, I would go to the local library and devour everything I could find on menswear.
About the same time in the mid-1980's I started working in retail menswear. I’d ask questions about the clothes, the different types of fabrics that the suits were made from but apart from "it’s wool" no-one seemed to have a clue about the contents of the suits nor did they seem to care as it was all about selling a product even if it was unsuitable for the customer.We were there to sell not to help or advise.For me, this wasn't good enough.I didn't last long needless to say & left for better employment.
I wanted to know everything. So I kept asking and learning as I progressed in my career. I worked for several independent menswear stores in London's West End. In 1994 I eventually worked my way up to manage a menswear store in St John’s Wood, which is one the more affluent areas in London. We sold all-Italian suits with prices ranging from £700-£1500.
I wasn't that impressed with them but clients wanted a ‘designer name’. I needed a new suit in the summer of 1995 as my cousin Sophia was getting married. I could have had a pick of anything in store but I wanted something special & unique.The trend at the time was for loose fitting suits with enough excess fabric to outfit the Cutty Sark. After trying on a dozen suits from all the top ‘designer shops and department stores in London, I knew off the peg wasn't for me. I went looking for a tailor as I didn't want to wear a suit churned out in the hundreds or thousands.
I went to see several tailors and eventually commissioned a suit inspired by the Hardy Amies designs of the 60s; a slim lapeled, fitted, single breasted lightweight kid mohair/merino wool mix in light grey with 4 buttons with narrow lapels.
When I arrived at my cousin's wedding, her younger brother (who at the time worked in investment banking in the city of London and only wore ‘designer’ brands) asked me about my suit.
He tried on my jacket as he is the same height and build as me. He is now my oldest customer. He wanted a new suit there and then, especially when my bespoke suit was cheaper than his overpriced ‘designer’ suit.
I helped my cousin by liaising with my tailor and explaining the different types of a fabric, the different styles of the suit, the details of suits etc as he was like most men - clueless when it came to bespoke menswear. He decided on a light navy tropical-weight super 150 by Dormeuil as he dislikes anything heavy and wanted something comfortable for his work trips to the Middle East. Within a month he had commissioned four more suits.
He, in turn, was asked by his colleagues where he got his immaculately fitted, high-quality new suits from. Word of mouth spread and that is how it all started. In 6 months I took orders for over 40 suits. My new customers were time-poor but wanted a bespoke suit but without the time it usually takes. I took care of it for them, of course.
I happily spent hours talking to cloth merchants and to my tailors about all aspects of the bespoke process - all the while absorbing their knowledge, as I wanted to know everything about quality menswear and the bespoke craft tradition.
I sourced the cloth for my customers, took their measurements and helped them with their choices as most people have no idea about cloth or cut etc. I learnt that by talking to a customer, it’s easier to narrow down their requirements instead of showing them hundreds of cloth samples. A few months later I started a bespoke suit service in store.
Many of my initial customers were businessmen or people who worked very long hours or who travelled frequently. My personalised service meant that I could meet them at their convenience, source the fabric based on their requirements, take their measurements and then go through the design with them. We would then deliver the suit once it was ready and undertake any alterations if required.
“I am sick of wearing the same boring colours in the same style and looking like everyone else in the room.I don’t want to look like a bloody politician!”
This quote was from one of my earliest and most loyal customers who ordered several suits at a time. Unfortunately, too many men spend a fortune on clothes and end up looking anonymous. Niven wants their customers to look not only elegant but feel it too. The feeling one gets the first time of wearing a bespoke suit is unforgettable.
We, of course, can make any style the customer requires from sober to flamboyant. One can look business-like without looking like a ‘business man’. It’s not difficult to look unique.
After 5 years of managing the store and 15 years of working in fashion, a career change beckoned.
I continued making suits with my tailors for both old and new clients while working full time in sales.
I wanted to follow my passion, not just work for a wage, so I left my sales job and Niven Tailors is the result.
After 23 years of tailoring experience, Niven was founded on the principle of making bespoke tailoring affordable and accessible to as many people as possible. We want to make clothes for someone like the young me all those years ago, someone who wants something unique but is unsure how to realise it.Or anyone who wants a one-off unique suit at a reasonable price
We are here to help & guide, to make your first bespoke suit or your 100th bespoke suit an enjoyable experience. Please do not hesitate to contact us; we are happy to offer advice & help even if you are not ready to place an order.