Interview with James Sleater


March 28, 2013 by Ville Raivio

“Age 32, Owner and Director at Cad & The Dandy. I was fortunate to have gotten my elementary education at Stowe School, in a setting that epitomises beauty. Further education was at Leeds University, where I studied History of Art and Classics. I live with my wife, who thinks my style is impeccable (of course) and a dog with a penchant for bedding down in my new clothes as soon as I bring them home. Coming from a family whose business has witnessed the decline of British manufacturing, they had a bitter sweet reaction: it’s fantastic that you are trying to bring back the art of tailoring and UK manufacturing but perhaps you should work in an industry that is more secure than high end clothing, given that there is a recession “on”.

My school had no uniform but it did have a dress code, which was basically suited office attire. This allowed individuality – everyone trying to be the peacock – and taught us to consider how we dressed and how our clothes were perceived by others. It was never about  fashion, it was always about style. Many of my friends are still in the manufacturing industry, making cloth, clothing and  the like, which was where my interest started and knowledge grew. Having personal style icons, combined with a great thirst for autobiographies, also helped me to learn about how smart people dress and gave me valuable insights into their thoughts on the subject.

There are simple rules that everyone should know – which buttons to do up on a jacket, which buttons to leave undone on a waistcoat and what length trousers and sleeves should be. But, fundamentally, it’s the skill, craft and time that goes into making a handmade suit that should be universally appreciated. I like to wear traditional with an edge, mixing old styles with new: fishtail trousers and a  modern cut jacket. I also like to play around with colour combinations. At Cad &The Dandy, we pride ourselves on offering clients a modern accessible approach, combining classic British fabrics and tailoring with their individual requirements – giving them the ultimate experience in  service and style.

Ian and I were both bankers in the City of London. After being made redundant in 2008, we got together and decided to start the company. We’ve had to prove ourselves among some of the finest and most established Savile Row tailors, revered the world over for outstanding service, quality and style. It was never going to be easy but I think we’ve been accepted as genuine purveyors of everything that traditional and contemporary British tailoring has to offer (and a little bit more!). Ready to wear is a tough one. Since starting the business I can’t remember the last off the peg item I bought. It’s hard to go back to off the peg once you’ve experienced the benefits of hand tailored garments. And, with so many fantastic tailors to choose from, it’s hard to single out individuals, but if it’s a military cut you’re after, Welsh and Jefferies are hard to beat.

[My hobbies include] riding – polo, hunting, shooting – ideally, any pursuit that allows me to leave London at the weekends. Experiment with clothing, colours and combinations but remember to keep it simple, no need to over dress or over style. Classic will always be classic. If you happen to notice a look put together in a magazine, or on a chap walking down the street, make a note of it. A lot of people use things like Pinterest to build up ideas, references and reminders. Don’t merely ape others but always bring elements of individuality to the clothes you wear -that’s when true style is born.”


Pictures: © James Sleater


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Only a beautiful life is worth living.

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