September 21, 2014 by Ville Raivio
VR: Your age and occupation?
AL: I was born in 1962 and I am a fourth generation bespoke Tailor.
VR: Your educational background?
AL: I was educated at our local schools in Castle Douglas but also helped in the family business from an early age. My apprenticeship started at home but then I was sent to Ipswich to learn under Ted Glazebrook. My father met Ted in the ‘50s through the Tailor and Cutter competitions and he offered to help train me.
VR: Have you any children or spouse (and how do they relate to your tailoring enthusiasm)?
AL: I am married and my wife helps run the family business, we have two children and we are also grandparents. Our daughter lives in Leeds and our son works in the family business (5th generation).
VR:…and your parent’s and siblings’ reactions back in the days when you began?
AL: My father was very proud that I followed the family footsteps into the business, and we are proud that he made our firm the only Scottish Gold Medallist tailors.
VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides tailoring?
AL: At present tailoring tends to take up most of my time.
VR: How did you first become interested in clothing, and when did you turn your eyes towards classic style? Why classics instead of fashion?
AL: This really was bred into me; since 1896 our family business has been known for quality classic clothing, and my late father used to quote, “Fashion is fickle but style is here to stay.” I still believe this to be true and strive to uphold his mantra.
VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of tailoring– from books, in-house training, workshops or somewhere else?
AL: After my apprenticeship I started to realise how much I still had to learn about the world of bespoke, so, to expand my outlook, I went to work in London. Derek Jackson, our then Scabal agent, arranged work experience with Elias Christou, who became a cutter for Harrods, and then with Edward Sexton in Savile Row. I also enjoy reading tailoring books and the family has amassed a large collection over the years.
VR: How would you describe your own dress? How about your house cut?
AL: Scottish tailors were renowned for suits with quite heavy construction; I have heard this referred to as “Clyde Built”, like the ships. But we prefer a softer construction as I was taught in the West End of London. I like to create a bit of clean air between the sleeve and side of the jacket to help with the illusion of shape, and favour a straight shoulder line but only if this will flatter the customer’s figure type. We draft an individual pattern for each customer and this allows flexibility in the looks we offer.
VR: Please tell us why you decided to continue the family business, and what goals you set for yourself in the beginning. How have you been received so far?
AL: To start with, I really was just following the steps expected of me to continue the tradition, my burn and passion for tailoring gradually grew as my knowledge and skills developed. As for my goals, the posts keep moving. Bespoke Tailoring is my life and keeps throwing fresh challenges my way.
VR: Why should my readers choose the house of Livingston over other British tailors?
AL: We have total control over our Bespoke garments because everything is cut and made in-house, this allows us to offer a more personal and unique service to our clients. Our business has thrived over the years through reputation, repeat custom and recommendation. In fact, many families have been loyal customers over multiple generations.
VR: Who or what inspires you?
AL: Edward Sexton is my inspiration and my mentor; I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with and be molded by such a talented and influential figure in the world of bespoke. Also, I am grateful to have worked with and become a friend of the late Salvo Cannia, a Sicilian coat maker whose talents I strive to reproduce.
VR: What’s your definition of style?
AL: Style, in my eyes, is an exceptionally well-cut suit, coordinated with complementing accessories and worn with confidence and pride.
VR: Finally, would you say there are regional differences in the style of British men? What’s the Scotsman’s look?
AL: I think regional differences in style have been greatly reduced by the Internet; tailors now have a vast resource at their fingertips, allowing them to get influence from far afield. As far as Scottish style is concerned, we are trying out utmost to ensure our clients look their best and not out of place in any region.
Photos: G. Livingston&Son