It’s been a busy week so far. I was thrilled to be featured alongside Sir Martin Sorrell and ‘Dragon’s Den’ Duncan Bannatyne in Business Sense Magazine, the National Westminster Bank’s national periodical. The rest of my time has been spent focussing on my presentation at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) with Jaeger. The process of tailoring is something which tends to take place away from public scrutiny, so being given such a prominent platform demands careful thought about why the art of bespoke is so unique.
It seems to me that the distinctive experience my clients seek is comprised of the knowledge and integration of three important and fundamental elements. Physiology, technique and …psychology.
Physiology is all about understanding the shape and proportions of the body, not as an object frozen in time, but as a dynamic entity that changes and flows as it moves. Most textbooks illustrate body types in 4 or 5 basic postures, but the devil is in the difference. I have yet to find a client whose shape fits these proportions precisely. I often give group seminars and set the participants the task of finding someone in the room that matches their own body shape. It hasn’t happened so far!
Technique is something which takes time to develop. It’s said that it takes 10,000 hours to reach a competent level of skill in any chosen activity. This may be so, but I find that I still look to expand my own skills base, and that is after over 20 years in the trade. The art of tailoring is still grounded in techniques that were developed in the 19th century, although the records show evidence as far back as the 13th century. Modern materials, the change in life styles and modern body proportions all influence the ways in which these techniques have to be applied so they have to be constantly revisited and refreshed.
Tailoring is a relationship business. We have to dress the body and the mind. So, the psychology of the relationship with ones client is paramount. This is all the more so as the current changes in society affects the role of women and how they wish to be perceived.
I was speaking with a former CEO of a global PR firm the other day who mentioned how he always emphasised the need for his staff to think of the image they portrayed when they visited clients. “They have to realise that if they are charging a four figure sum per day, the first impression they give their client as they walk in the room is vital, and this is dependent largely upon how they look”.
A potent statement when you consider how this simple matter can undermine the huge investment that has gone into training the company representative.