What is your role at Graham Browne?
I’m an apprentice coat maker.
When did you first become interested in tailoring?
About two years ago. I knew I didn’t want to go to university so I spent some time googling options and found the tailoring course at Newham. I had enjoyed studying textiles at school, and after I had helped a friend with some costume making I decided to sign up for the course. I thought if I am interested, why not pursue it for a career.
What is your educational background?
I studied the level one and two course at Newham College for two years, followed by their six-week jacket making course – where I learnt how to measure, draft and make a jacket for a baste fitting.
Who gave you your first opportunity?
My first real opportunity was at Anderson & Sheppard. I did a day’s work experience between their workroom at 32 Old Burlington Street and jacket workroom on Kingly Court.
Getting the placement here was similar to how I got it at Anderson & Sheppard: I went door to door handing out my CV. I had a quick chat with Russell whilst I was in the shop, then called him about the chance of a placement a couple of weeks later. I completed a six-month internship before they offered me an apprenticeship.
What is a day in the life like at Graham Browne?
I do a mix of things; I make a few fittings throughout the day, as well as carrying out various admin jobs – sorting the post, replying to emails, booking in cloth. I might have a little tidy up as well but generally everyone pitches in to maintain the shop’s appearance.
Is there anything you had wished you had known before you started this journey?
When I was studying I didn’t realise how niche each job role was. I assumed I would make a jacket from start to finish – I didn’t realise there was a separate finisher that felled the lining, or another that did the buttonholes. The time taken to produce a jacket surprised me too. I guess I didn’t realise how much work went into the whole process until I was a part of it.
What has been your most exciting moment at Graham Browne?
When I learnt how to make the fitting for a morning suit, and then for a white tie. The tailcoats are completely different from making a typical jacket – they have a skirt for a start, and whilst the forepart for a morning dress is fully canvased, a white tie is only canvased over the chest.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently making a couple of baste fittings – one is a grey medium weight jacket and the other a navy woollen jacket, both of which will form part of a suit.
What are your favourite aspects of tailoring?
I find it very therapeutic; it’s easy to get lost in thought. You’re almost on autopilot once you know what you’re doing. When I’m left to it and get into a rhythm, it can be quite relaxing.
What advice would you give to anybody that wants to get into the bespoke tailoring industry?
Be prepared for the long road and don’t give up. It can be very hard when you are walking door to door and all you are hearing are people saying no, but don’t get disheartened. When you leave your CV anywhere make sure you follow up on it, ring or even pop in again and show your face.