When it comes to suits, we often find ourselves sacrificing comfort for style, or style for comfort, without ever feeling genuinely content with what we have on. Consequently, there’s a lot to be said for bespoke tailoring. Made specifically for your style and size, it enables you – the buyer – to have more control over how your suit looks and feels. We recently discovered Susannah Hall Tailors in Clerkenwell, East London, which offers a bespoke tailoring service for both men and women. Abigail Davies meets Susannah Hall to find out more.
It is a bright autumnal morning and sunlight is flooding through the vast shop window which looks out onto Clerkenwell Road. I watch a stream of men and women trickle past outside, each one pausing to look in at the beautiful suits on display before glancing up at the sign which reads: Susannah Hall Tailors.
I am sat on a sofa inside, waiting to interview Susannah herself. There are plenty of things to look at while I wait: drawers of delicate scarves, rows of woollen ties, racks of brilliantly coloured socks. Not to mention the rails of lavish looking suit jackets labelled “Made in the UK”. Before I can investigate further I am interrupted by a blonde, impeccably dressed woman who introduces herself as Susannah Hall before sitting next to me on the sofa.
I begin by asking her how she found such a great location for her business. “By accident,” she says, “I was driving around. I hadn’t done any investigative work, which was a bit silly but it worked out”. With Farringdon Station just around the corner and an array of picturesque coffee shops, pubs and shops nearby, it seems like the perfect spot. “There are probably too many nice places to visit,” she laughs, before recommending local eateries such as Burger & Lobster and The Modern Pantry.
Despite having only been in the shop for a couple of minutes, it is obvious that there is more to this tailor than just a good location. The shop is bright, airy and spacious, with everything laid out neatly on display. It is quiet and relaxed, with just one other person working with her. Does she enjoy being her own boss? “It’s lovely to have control over what you’re doing,” she says. “You can pat yourself on the back when you’ve done well.”
I ask her what she thinks characterises Susannah Hall Tailors and her answer is similarly honest. “We don’t pretend to be Savile Row,” she says. “We make incredible suits, which are beautifully made.” Her aim is to offer the whole range: “We can do everything from a very English tailored, simple, stylish suit to something outrageous, like an orange velvet jacket, which I have made for somebody.” All of their suits and garments are made in the UK; they have tailors in Yorkshire and London and their shirts are made in Manchester. If anything is not made in the UK it is made clear on the label, such as the stylish woollen ties that I noticed when I arrived and still can’t stop looking at, which are made in Italy.
Having been in the tailoring business for almost 20 years, Susannah has noticed a change in people’s perceptions and attitudes towards suits. Whereas before it would take time for suit styles to change, now they seem to change every season – whether it’s a new detail or a different cut. According to Susannah, London Fashion Week, theatre, film and TV all have a huge impact on trends, with American period dramas Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire proving to be particularly popular.
Regardless of trends, for Susannah the most important thing is for her clients to feel comfortable in what they are wearing. “I think that once you have a suit that is styled to you and fits you, you will forget about it,” she says, before pointing out that you can always show style and personality through your tie. This reminds me again of the amazing woollen ties and I steal another glance at them.
As I wonder whether these ties could be considered unisex, it dawns on me that, while I have bombarded Susannah with questions about men’s tailoring, I have asked close to nothing about women’s. Does she have more male clients than female? “A lot of women don’t realise that it’s possible to have a bespoke suit,” she acknowledges. Luckily, however, she does not think that this will always be the case, and can already sense a change. “Give it another couple of years and I think that we will have a lot more ladies on board,” she says. And we hope she’s right.
110 Clerkenwell Road, London, EC1M 5SA