London. If you’re a die-hard fan of James Bond and Turnbull & Asser offers to make you a bespoke shirt, you really can’t say “No”. I had exactly that unexpected pleasure on my most recent trunk show in London. Let it be known that I do not intend to rehash the history of Turnbull & Asser (link to my original article on Turnbull & Asser). Needless to say, the house’s history is illustrious and its reputation impeccable. Further information can be found by anyone with even the most basic googling skills. Instead, this article will deal with my experiences with the Turnbull & Asser bespoke process.
At Turnbull & Asser at 4 Davies Street
The next morning, I was warmly greeted by Mr James Webb. After briefly discussing the weather (a must in Britain!), I was led down to the lower floor and asked that all-important question: “How would you like your shirt to be cut, sir?”
Thankfully, I had come prepared. “Not cut too close to the body, perhaps even a bit loose”. I’ve never felt that Turnbull & Asser is your go-to place for a tight-tight-tight shirt. There is something so inelegant about a tight-fitting shirt. A tight-fitting shirt is a bit like a selfie at the gym, no matter how muscular you might be. In my opinion, playing with one’s silhouette is what it’s all about and where all of the fun lies. It should perhaps also be noted that cutting a wider shirt with a good fit is also more difficult on a technical level than cutting one that will show off the wearer’s nipples.
Mr Webb pulled his measuring tape off his shoulders (one of the great thrills of shirt making!) and took the 18 measurements that are characteristic of Turnbull & Asser’s bespoke process. I did my best to suppress my excitement and keep still. As a tailor myself, I know how vital concentration is in this situation. To my initial surprise, everything was written down on a brown A4 envelope (more on that later). While he did his best to hide it, I could tell that Mr Webb quickly came to realise what I had long known about myself. “What a weird body”, his eyes seemed to say. (There is a slight possibility that I might be projecting). Right shoulder drop, neck forward, shoulders forward, right arm longer than left, hips forward, sleeves needs to be turned back slightly, to name but a few defects. Out of personal vanity, I will keep the rest secret.
“What do you have in mind with regards to styling, sir?” – “I don’t want it to be boring.” In no time at all, the prestigious Turnbull & Asser house fabric book lay on the table. I was transported back to my teenage days. There was really no question for me, though. If I’m going bespoke with Turnbull, it can only really be one of their signature multi-stripe fabrics. I decided on a yellow fabric with light and dark-blue stripes. I opted for a long pointed collar, classic Turnbull three-button cuff, no gauntlet button, an English placket (when in Rome…), and unfused interlinings for collar and cuffs. Collar and cuffs match the shirt for now. If I ever need to replace them, they will be in a white poplin. Mr Webb nodded and noted down my wishes on that auspicious brown envelope.
Mr Webb presented me with another fabric bunch, silks this time. My new task was to select a fabric for one of Turnbull’s bespoke seven-fold ties. I spontaneously opted for a rather bold navy design with polka dots. Turnbull & Asser ties are renowned for their durability and their stable knot (a style I’m becoming more and more fond of every day). For those wondering whether I’ve become a peacock, it is worth remembering that my tailoring is almost exclusively conservative and double-breasted. There is no better background for flamboyant accessories.
Now, we play the waiting game…
I’m now back in beautiful Berlin waiting on the finished article. Before long, I will have my first bespoke Turnbull and Asser shirt (#fanboymoments). Which reminds me… About that brown envelope! “All your patterns are put here and an order history is created”, Mr Webb explained. “Then it’s put into our archives. In case your children or grandchildren ever want to be inspired by your cut.” You had me at hello…
In September, Mr Webb will visit the fine German cities of Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, and Munich on behalf of Turnbull & Asser. If you are interested in having shirts made but haven’t quite made that step yet, let me convince you. Turnbull recently decided to lower the minimum order quantity for first orders from five or six shirts to just two. Now, at the very latest, you have no more excuses! Make your appointment via link. MM/DC