A Bespoke Tailor. Online.

24 MB MP3

…the entire output for Savile Row in a single year is only a couple of thousand suits… maybe five thousand, ten thousand, tops. This isn’t Burger King, the viral doesn’t have to be massive and huge in order to serve its purpose. It just has to simmer along there, just beneath the surface, spreading almost undetected.

Hugh Mcleod, former advertising creative and current Internet guru, writing in Gaping Void about how Thomas Mahon “advertises” through blogging

Chris’s Billboard

In an age of casual Fridays (and perhaps Mondays through Thursdays), of Banana Republics, and banana republic sweatshops, there are still people out there with tape measures and chalk and scissors, bespoke tailors from London’s Savile Row (and elsewhere) who make clothes the way they would have been made two hundred years ago. One of them is blogging about it.

Anyone — anyone who can afford it, that is — should consider a bespoke suit, according to Thomas. The big reason that someone with means wouldn’t step into his shop is that they’re intimidated. “They feel if they walk in, they’re going to get thrown out because they weren’t recommended by Lord Brocket.” He hopes the blog will take bespoke tailoring — the process, the culture, the language — down to earth. (He’s keeping the price where it is.)

Thomas Mahon

Savile Row bespoke tailor

Blogger, English Cut

[over ISDN from New York City]

Andrea Siegel

author, Open and Clothed

[by phone from New York City]

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  • Abby

    Any suggestions for places to buy good clothes inexpensively in Boston? Filene’s Basement has really gone down hill.

  • jj00

    As weird as it sounds, I’ve been shopping at my local Goodwill recently. They have TONS of clothes, they’re cheap, it’s considered better for the environment, and I’m helping Goodwill with what they really need – money.

    I took a friend there when we were looking for Halloween costumes. He found this 800 dollar suit for 12 dollars. After the party, he decided to keep it and get it tailored.

  • doremus

    Try the Garment District in Cambridge. They have a lot of suits- though more in the in the fall/winter, it appears. I got two great, designer label suits (Perry Ellis, Boss) for $15 each.

    And when I can afford a $3,000 suit, I’m tracking down Thomas Mahon because the English Cut blog has infected me with the desire to wear one.

  • Abby

    Thanks doremus. I have a very petite frame and tend to do best in European clothes, especially FRench. I have a great thrift store dior wool top, and I’m still looking for the place to buy $25 ferragamos which I was able to do 10 years ago in FB.

  • Chris, I wonder whether you have any Gay Talese stories to share with your guest and listeners from your days at The Times. I’ve heard him talk about his tailor father and his lifelong appreciation for good suits, and wonder how much influence they had on his well-tailored prose. Does an affinity for “style” in one part of a life work some magic?

    If anyone doesn’t recognize that name (or wants to see his suit), go to http://gaytalese.com and http://www.gaytalese.com/biography.html

  • sjc

    Hey gang, very interesting show tonight. I noticed that a Error 404 is occuring on the blog? No doubt you’re all over this.

    Geez, guess I better not return to Marshall’s for my next “coordinated seperates” suit.


  • Potter

    My mother always loved clothes. She is still very fashion conscious and thinking about her wardrobe, what she is going to wear when she steps out, at 91.

    For my high school graduation she gave me the gift of having a custom made suit ( that was in the late 50’s). A few more lovely ones that she sponsored formed a collection over the course of my college years in the city. That was before I left New York for Boston (with my suits) and started wearing bell bottoms and thrift clothes ( the late 60’s).

    We were very far from wealthy. My mother worked as a secretary when fewer women worked. So it was quite a gift. She sent me to “her tailor “Benjamin Silling who worked in the garment center.

    Ben lived in the apartment house down the block from us in the Bronx. He had worked for the house of Davidow, those makers of very fine three piece women’s wool suits, that is, suits with coats to match. My mother would rip out their full page advertisements in the Sunday New York Times Magazine sections and show it to “Silling’ and he would be only too happy reproduce something for her. I think he had a crush on her actually. But what an artist and craftsman Silling was! He loved his work. It was second nature for him to “build� a piece around a figure. He sewed a lot by hand too. He ripped a seam by tearing it apart quickly, never tearing the fabric. And I remember his strong sweeping chalk strokes.

    We went for three fittings, picking from swatches of the best and latest buttery and nubby wools. We had measurements taken, came back to try on the rough, then back again for the final fitting. We often chose flamboyantly colored linings. Hot pink. I remember a yellow silk lining in a dark green suit that had tan woven leather buttons.

    I mourn leaving these clothes behind; I moved around too much those days after. But we had a revolution to foment and a war to protest. Maybe someone found them at the Goodwill or the Salvation Army.

    Now I am inheriting, from my mother’s closet, what remains of Silling’s work.

  • vanbertozzi


    My collaborator Hanna Rose Shell and I are making a documentary video (working title “SecondHand”) about the history of used clothing. We’ve talked to some very funny and intelligent people about behind-the-scenes of secondhand clothing: Bruce Cohen who started the Garment District/Dollar-a-Pound, Bobby Garnet of Bobby from Boston (of the finest vintage stores I’ve ever seen), Lenny of Keezer’s…

    These are folks who make up a pretty small community, they all know each other. The history of used clothing in America goes way back obviously, and was one of the first instances of recycling—ragmen used to go door to door collecting cast offs and re-selling or recycling the materials into whathaveyou (paper, shingles, padding, etc). Most interesting for Hanna and myself , is the way used clothing has followed waves of immigration and often gets caught up in family business dramas.

    Anyway, if anyone is interested in seeing our movie (when we have a final cut or somethin) lemme know!

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  • Hugh Jessup

    I loved listening to this show. Thomas Mohan was elegant in his discussion of the lasting values of a hand-made, hand-cut clothing. On used cloths, Keezers in Cambridge is still a good stop.

  • bft

    A clothespin doctor!

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  • mlillich

    T. Mohan was indeed charming and earnest.

    Nagging at me through the broadcast, though, were the politics and economics of fine tailoring.

    On one hand, we in America have the luxury of relatively well-made clothing at bargain prices at Wal-Mart and its retail betters. The Dickens mentions on the broadcast were interesting: A suit of clothes presented to the orphan cost a month’s wages for a working man.

    On another, how do we square a $3k suit w/ the $1-2 per day roughly one-half the inhabitants of the planet subsist on today? Both hands hold many related questions.

    I dunno. Do clothes make the man/woman? I think not. But I’m just an anti-fashion maven from Indiana. – Mike

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  • hk

    Mr.Kelly, Material Guy. Visit him at http://www.hongkongcustomtailor.com

    Mr. Kelly has always lived in a material world. He’s from a long line of cloth merchants and knows that the fine art of getting a good deal on cloth is as important to his business as the quality of the cloth itself. When he makes a score and buys somethinglush for less, you make a score. Mr. Kelly gets to brag that his prices are the lowest in town. And you get to brag that you got a

    suit worth way more than you paid. Decades of experience and his love of material goods have now led Mr. Kelly to develop N.J. Ramchandani,® his own private label fabric. He wanted it to be a year-round, truly global weight. Which

    simply means it’s a first-class international travel fabric. One of the world’s top

    European mills worked with Mr. Kelly to develop this cloth. Everything about it

    says money. Except the price. Mr. Kelly.

    The Custom of

    New York Since1972.

    Custom Shirts, Custom Suits, Tuxedos, Blazer Buttons, Cufflinks

  • eurotailors
  • eurotailors

    Have you ever realized that when you buy readymade suits you get a choice of only a few colors & styles, also finding the perfect fit are quite difficult? Wouldn’t it be better to choose from over 2000 different British & Italian fabrics and get a tailor made suit at a similar price that you pay for readymade suits?

    We are a company based in Hong Kong and have been providing custom made suits & shirts since 1997. With representatives in major cities around the globe we can arrange to show you the fabric samples and take your measurements, or you can also place your orders online with the help of our measuring guide. There are over 2000 fabrics to choose from along with all the latest styles.

    All our suits and shirts are produced by highly skilled Shanghainese tailors in Hong Kong and delivered in about 4 weeks, express delivery can be made in 2 weeks at a minor extra cost. In case you are not able to find what you are looking for then please let us know your requirement may it be in words or by a photograph and we could arrange it for you.

    We also have an outlet at the Hotel Intercontinental Budapest where you are most welcome to visit us. Though we are not located in streets like Savile Row (London), we have still been able to offer made to measure suits to many VIP’s from around the world.

    Experience an easier way of shopping for bespoke suits & shirts at Euro Tailors

    Kenny Surtani

  • alexpeterson

    We recently launched on online tailoring website where you can choose every last detail of your perfect suit! We supply only the best British fabrics and offer one to one advice. And if you prefer a personal fitting then we can arrange that also. The site features a range of innovative interfaces to help making the process of designing a suit and getting measured as simple as possible. See for yourself –


  • garyp

    There is another online tailoring website. http://www.tajtailors.com.hk . Does anyone has experience purchasing from taj tailors

  • Pickashirt.com’s objective is to offer you a quality custom hand tailored shirt to your measurements and your designs that is affordable and painless to order.

  • really good piece thanks!