MADE OF HONOUR
Cheshire Bespoke - singlehandedly keeping the Made In England label alive
Originally featured in Issue 01
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Tony Lutwyche has been described as 'the most important figure in English tailoring'. Having saved the Cheshire Bespoke factory (the manufacturing arm of Chester Barrie), the former army officer is dedicated to both stripping away the intimidating formality of the suit buying experience and reviving the Made In England mark of handmade quality. ‘We work behind the scenes,’ he says. ‘A brand appears graceful and serene. We are the little legs paddling furiously under the water.’
What inspired you to go into tailoring?
Having been a client of Savile Row during my army days, I was able to witness first hand the incredible skill, talents and precision of the best tailors in the world. That was inspirational in itself. On leaving the British Army, I saw an opportunity to bridge the gap between the incredible skill and theatre of traditional houses to offer a different approach to tailoring. Firstly I wanted to strip away the formality for the customer.
Do you think your background in the military gave you a better appreciation of what good tailoring can do for the customer?
It certainly gave me an introduction into Savile Row, both on the military side and suits. Having seen the best at work it gave me a better understanding and huge appreciation for what goes into putting a suit or garment together – the construction, the skill, the craft and certainly thes positive effect those can have on the customer.
Where did you learn your own tailoring skills?
In Soho. It was a ‘reverse apprenticeship’ – I employed two tailors and shadowed their every move for six years.
Why was it so important for you to save the Cheshire Bespoke factory in Crewe?
Having already run my own studio for six years, it felt like a natural step. For me there was no question, it was the last remaining workshop of its kind in England. Forty-five companies depend on it for production. If the workshop had been left to fall apart, there would be no good quality
‘Made in England’ tailoring manufacturers today, which would be madness.
What makes it so special to you?
My team, working with the best craftsmen in the industry, working with people who have a passion for what they do. There's a level of integrity that goes into what we do and it's exciting for the consumer and the manufacturer. It's exciting for the consumer to have the opportunity to buy a ‘Hand Tailored in England’ garment and it's exciting for the manufacturer to see the passion for Made in England grow.
Above all it’s fun – bringing the traditional craft of tailoring into the 21st century.
You've worked with some of the biggest names in fashion – who has made the most impression on you?
My team was responsible for putting together the first Ralph Lauren Purple label collection and they worked on the first capsule collection for Victoria Beckham. We have also had the privilege to work with younger upcoming designers such as Christopher Kane and J W Anderson. I think there is something to be learned from everyone as individual characters, although I think it's so refreshing to see what younger emerging designers bring to the table, their way of looking at things and their approach to traditional tailoring.
What are your ambitions for the brand?
To re-establish English tailoring as the best in the world. The Italians have had it their way for too long!
Photographs James McNaught, Words Mark Hooper