Fashion boutique Several is one such company that is placing emphasis on an exclusive shopping experience, offering customers a carefully curated range of contemporary menswear, accessible by appointment only. Headed up by Graeme Fidler, previously of Aquascutum and Bally, the boutique is a departure from the conventional format of the big-name brands Fidler has worked for in the past. “There is a lot of choice out there, but people have become bored of fast fashion and branded luxury,” Fidler explains. “Lots of conversations led me to believe there was a gap in the market for a British contemporary brand delivering high-quality wardrobe pieces made new, wearable and relevant.” Fidler’s alternative offering provides a contrast to the flashy excesses of some big-name brands, instead delivering ‘quiet luxury’ to the discerning few. The shop itself reflects this ethos, with clothes displayed in simple metal cases in a pared-back, white-walled interior – safe from the pulsating thumps of loud music or the intrusive elbows of other shoppers. It also isn’t just the exclusive service that makes Several popular – it’s the personal interest Fidler takes in his eponymous label. As he explains, “I take time and attention researching the right fabric, weave, texture and fit: and this personal involvement allows Fidler to be as specific as he likes with his inspiration, basing his SS15 collection on the British independent music scene between 1983 and 1987.
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Elsewhere in the capital, bespoke suit maker Henry Rose also understands the importance of providing a personal service for his customers, explaining, “I have customers that I’ve been serving for more than 30 years, many of whom I’m on first-name terms with.” With decades of experience in the industry, most notably as tailor in residence at Selfridges and Stella McCartney, Rose understands the importance of building a personal rapport with his customers – an approach inspired by fellow tailor Douglas Hayward. “His shop on Mount Street was a kind of club. Michael Caine would turn up for a chat and walk out without realising he had ordered a suit. What Hayward used to do has rubbed off on me – I’ve adopted his attitude to clothes,” says Rose.
Today, Rose prides himself on working in partnership with his customers to create exactly what they want, no matter how unusual it is. “Established tailoring houses will often encourage you to buy the house suit, but if someone came to me with an idea, I’d make them anything,” Rose explains. “A customer brought in fabric manufactured for the Russian army, wanting an overcoat made from it. We developed it together and he hasn’t stopped wearing it since.” For Rose, like Fidler, the processes and materials behind his clothes are an essential part of the finished product. “What makes a bespoke suit special is the way it’s constructed, cut and fitted,” says Rose, “It’s a long process that usually takes up to eight weeks, all done by hand. You’re sculpting something.” As a result, Rose believes the benefits of wearing a handmade suit are extensive: “It’s psychological really. The person wearing it knows they’ve bought a quality product, and he or she shines because of it.”
Similarly, shirtmaker Emma Willis is also proudly flying the flag for bespoke tailoring. “With a bespoke shirt, you can choose your own fabrics, style of cuffs, collar and more,” she explains. “Customers can even have their initials embroidered on the inside collar or tails.” After measuring customers at her Jermyn Street store, Willis’s shirts are then made to order in an 18th-century townhouse in the centre of Gloucester, using trimmings and components sourced in England.
“I have always taken pride in showing off British shirt-making skills, and will always support small, privately-owned local businesses where I can,” says Willis. “Luxury to me is a beautifully designed product, made using the finest materials, with the most personal and efficient service.” Part of this ethos includes a return to traditional shirt-making methods: “We cut the fabric and make our patterns by hand, rather than CAD machine, as I believe this gives the most accurate final result.” With twice-weekly visits to the factory, Willis can name each of her staff individually, as well as personally guarantee the quality of her shirts. The result is an authentically one-to-one service that keeps customers returning.
However it is not just in the world of fashion that bespoke or exclusive customer service has taken off. Gallery FUMI in Hoxton Square offers an appointment only, private space selling high-end contemporary design pieces. Co-director Sam Pratt explains, “Gallery FUMI is not a conventional white space gallery. It’s almost like gaining entry into an exclusive club for those in the know.”
An important part of this exclusivity is the limited-edition and one-off commissions that constitute much of the gallery’s stock, guaranteeing a truly unique purchase. Pratt says, “Most of what we sell is functional, but with strong sculptural qualities. This, plus the fact that they are unique, handcrafted pieces, enhances the luxury aspect of each purchase.” The result is an eclectic selection of stock with plenty of surprises. From fireplaces resembling crumpled fabric to chandeliers dipped in black wax, Gallery FUMI has it all. With seven years of custom under its belt, it seems that Gallery FUMI and the demand for bespoke service can only continue to flourish in the luxury market.
66 Jermyn Street, SW1Y 6NY
020 7930 9980.
16 Hoxton Square, N1 6NT
020 7490 2366.
Basement, 15 Cecil Court, WC2N 4AN.
07771 630 386.
Rochelle School, Arnold Circus, E2 7ES
020 7739 5098.