Interview with Rory Duffy


April 23, 2013 by Ville Raivio

‘Thirty year years old, fifth generation, Savile Row-trained, award-winning master tailor. Trained for seven years by the finest artisans in the British Isles. Golden Shear Award winner and former apprentice of the founders of Savile row, Henry Poole & Co. Learned to sew from my mother aged 8, spent my childhood hand-sewing and knitting, growing up in the countryside. At school, when the other boys would go out and play ball, I would remain in the classrooms sewing with the girls. My mother was a keen seamstress, making her own shirts and dress in rural Ireland where clothing was expensive. Trained by her father, a third generation tailor, who was trained by his father.


Always loved suits, wore my first suit to my holy communion, and have maintained the passion since. Opting at age 16 to wear a suit to the bars and clubs, rather than jeans like my peers.  My father is a business executive, who wore a suit every day to work. I never liked the fit of his suits, even when I knew nothing.Began my apprenticeship aged 18 after leaving school. Soon realised that no one trained Master Tailors and that being in the trade meant specializing. Moved between companies, learning different aspects of the trade. My first master taught me pressing, production tailoring and military wear. The second taught me cutting from blocks and pattern drafting. My third master was specialized in trousers and waistcoat making, he also taught me cutting.

A diploma from the London College of Fashions Handcraft Tailoring course helped to consolidate my training before joining the ranks of Henry Poole as an apprentice coat maker under Paul Frearson. After completing my own apprenticeship, I was asked to train an apprentice of my own, elevating me to master of an apprentice at age 26. My apprentice went on to win the Golden Shear in 2013, four years after myself. My wife is a well-known fashion designer. I believe she enjoys the perks of having a tailor at home. Having me alter her clothing and slim down her skinny jeans. More rock chick than business professional. Mother is very proud that I am keeping her family tradition alive. She gifted me her father’s cutting book and tools when I finished my training. They still tell everyone they meet that I won the Golden Shears.


Although my style may appear classical, it really is contemporary. Influence is drawn from old world styles, but the cut and fit are considered modern. My brace top trousers are cut slim and close to the body, buttoning at the wearer’s navel. Classic styling leans towards a proportionate cut and fit complementing the wearer’s physique. Fashion focuses on the designer’s statement rather than the wearer’s body type. [My cut is] classic tailoring techniques with a contemporary style. I have a library of books, most from the Tailor & Cutter academy. My grandfather’s book, The Science of Pattern Construction for Garment Makers by B.W Poole, is my go-to book for draft and making. It’s the most comprehensive book in my collection, covering a wide variety of tailoring topics. I have learned a lot from tailoring from books, particularly regarding women’s wear, cutting and making.

I am a snob, I don’t wear other people’s clothing. No jeans or t-shirts in my wardrobe, only bespoke suits made by me. I wear my own clothes very day, brace top trousers are my sweat pants. For shirts I go to TM Lewin’s Jermyn st London. It has always been my intention to start my own business. Since I began my training, I felt that in order to be complete control one must learn all aspects of the trade. My wife moved to New York so I moved with her, and so I founded my business in NY. The goal of my company is to make modern suits in a traditional fashion that complements the wearer’s physique.


My suits are cut with emphasis on the chest and waist. Chest drape is built into the coat, complemented with a low, nipped waist to accentuate the figure. Trousers are high-waisted to elongate the leg and give height to the figure. The leg is cut slim with a slight break at the shoe. I look to the history of men’s fashion for inspiration, styling boards and cutting books give a great insight into men’s clothing from the 20th century. I also frequent vintage stores to look at old suits and note their details, like how they fastened the fly before zips were popularised.

Tailoring is my hobby and my past-time, I use my blog as an outlet to educate the masses. Fit is one thing that seems to escape most people in and outside of the trade. There is a misconception that in order for a suit to fit, it must look as though it was sprayed on. Close-fitting and a good fit aren’t the same thing. Balance is also another key factor when it comes to having a well-fitting suit. The correct length through the front and back allows the coat to hang correctly.


My pet hate with RTW is the drag at the front button, it’s unsightly and a result of either excess on the front balance, or the coat being cut too straight. My coats are cut “crooked” to close, giving enough length through the front to allow the button to close unhindered. Bespoke clothing are considered a luxury, but they really are an investment, a prosperous appearance is an asset that all would benefit from. Besides running my own business and training two young apprentices, I also teach at the prestigious fashion college Parsons the New School, as a lecturer on the Bachelor of Fine Arts menswear. [My hobbies are] teaching pattern cutting, men’s tailoring and how to fit.’


Pictures: © Rory Duffy


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"If John Bull turns around to look at you, you are not well dressed; but either too stiff, too tight, or too fashionable".
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