September 15, 2016 by Ville Raivio
VR: Your age and occupation?
CF: 41, Master Tailor & head cutter/company director, lifestyle blogger.
VR: Your educational background?
CF: BTEC fashion design, apprentice and then head tailor with David Chambers bespoke 1994-2007, Freelance tailor – Ozwald Boateng 2007-2008. In current role with Henry Poole ltd. since march 2008.
VR: Have you any children or spouse (and how do they relate to your tailoring enthusiasm)?
CF: I aptly have a ‘Gentleman’s family’ (one of each). Daughter Reili, 9 years old, and son Coiry, 6 years old. They have to put up with a lot, as much of my business is abroad. I am all over America more than 5 times a year, for up to 2 weeks at a time. My wife works as a Senior Assistant Director for Sky Sports. Working in the media, she also likes to dress well. We compliment one another.
VR: …and your parent’s and siblings’ reactions back in the days when you began?
CF: I used to be in a band as a teenager and I would design and make our outfits, I went to fashion college and always had a passion for clothing and design. My parents knew whatever profession I decided on, I would strive to make it to the highest level, and tailoring is quite an unusual profession, a great talking point. I always want to be the best I can and encourage myself to learn every element of my trade. For me, it’s important not only to talk the talk but actually to have the skills to back this up. Plus I’m naturally curious and can turn my hand to most things!
VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides tailoring?
CF: I have a black belt in kickboxing and jujitsu from when I was younger. I enjoy playing golf and football. I also do some charity work and event organising. I cook a mean steak. I love to travel and visit new places. I property develop, too, when the opportunity arises.
VR: How did you first become interested in clothing, and when did you turn your eyes towards classic style? Why classics instead of fashion?
CF: I have always had an interest in looking good and from a very young age I was self-aware, and understood how I dress has a real impact on how people perceive me. I think I have progressively veered more towards classic style as I have got older (my mantra is, better with age). For me, you can’t go wrong with a classic suit, as it will never date. Although at times I like to experiment with my outfits, with a different-coloured trouser and jacket combo or use an unusual material.
VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of tailoring– from books, in-house training, workshops or somewhere else?
CF: I have read a few books but mainly my love of learning and creating new things helps drive me. I was the only person willing to attempt making a bespoke cover for the Aston Martin one77 for a Paris car show reveal, I will always push myself to take on new and unusual challenges as that’s how I can further develop my knowledge of how materials drape and problem solve to perfect and modify a structure. If I don’t know how to make something, I will keep experimenting until I can work it out!
VR: How would you describe your own dress? How about your “house cut”?
CF: There isn’t a ‘house cut’ — the whole point of bespoke is to make sure we meet the needs of the customer and create whatever they request. I would always advise, though, to select a structured suit jacket over an unstructured one as much of the hand work goes into the canvassing of a bespoke creation. I would define my own image as classic and clean with a modern twist.
VR: Please tell us when you joined the team at Poole, and what goals you set for yourself in the beginning. How have you been received so far?
CF: I set myself the task of becoming company director within 5 years when I first started at Henry Poole in 2008 (I actually did it in 3!). I joined Poole initially to learn the final part of my trade, pattern cutting which made me a complete ‘Master Tailor’. There are very few of us on Savile Row who can literally do everything from start to finish, I am proud to be one of them, that was my aim!
VR: Why should my readers choose the house of Poole over other Savile Row tailors?
CF: Poole is the founding and first tailor’s shop to open on Savile Row and the inventor of the Dinner suit. There is so much history at Poole’s (and a great ledger library in-house — customers dating back to 1800, including Winston Churchill, Charles Dickens and, more recently, David Gandy). We have just as many American clients right now as we do British. For me, personally, I’m in my 5th year working in America, so I have developed some expertise for that market. I’m very aware of my clients’ preferences in the U.S. The most important relationship to maintain through the bespoke process is with your cutter.
VR: Who or what inspires you?
CF: I find inspiration in everything, everyday. Whether it be through Architecture, Art, music or clothing. I love anything that looks good. I am motivated always to make the best of what God gave me. I dress to impress, no matter where I am. Perception is key in my trade, so I must make my choices wisely, to be the best I need to look it. I never know who I will meet from one day to the next.
VR: What’s your definition of style?
CF: Style is creating your own identity, which expresses who you are. It shouldn’t feel forced. I don’t follow fashion generally as it dates pretty quickly. I understand what suits me already, therefore I don’t feel the need to jump onto a trend but I do keep an eye on it, though. Sometimes I find inspiration in a look which helps me develop patterns that work better for modern day tastes. I choose clothing to compliment my silhouette and enhance my image. I wear the clothing, not the other way ’round. People will always judge you initially based on your look, so remember; your clothing choices should be synonymous with the message you want to deliver and how seriously you wish to be taken.
VR: Finally, what’s your estimate on the effects of Britain’s EU exit on the business of bespoke tailoring?
CF: As a luxury product, we make for the super elite so I would like to hope it won’t affect our trade too hard, although it’s too early to say, really. I definitely think most industries will feel a bit of a pinch in the coming months, or even years, as people may be more careful what they spend their money on and be less frivolous. At the end of the day, business still goes on as usual, and to do good business you need to look sharp, nothing is going to get you noticed more than an amazing bespoke suit. My thoughts are that perception is key, so if you can look like you’re doing well in life, then you usually will!