What is your role at Richard Anderson?
I’m an apprentice coat maker.
When did you first become interested in tailoring?
When I first started learning about bespoke tailoring was when I went to Newham College at age eighteen. I have always been interested in making clothes, they are important to me on an emotional level. I adored the clothes that my mum wore, the creative aspect is essential for me. I come from a very artistic family and I wanted to get into something that was grounded but where I could still express my creativity.
What is your educational background?
I did the pre apprenticeship bespoke course at Newham College for a year then completed a BA course at the London College of Fashion.
Who gave you your first opportunity in tailoring?
Whilst I was at Newham studying I would sometimes go back to Norwich where I am from and I would visit a small bespoke tailoring shop. There was a coat maker and a trouser maker there and they taught me a few things. They were a small country tailors and they were so giving and generous with their time, it was the first time I saw what really goes into making a bespoke suit.
After I graduated I spent a year doing freelance jobs but it didn’t suit me because it was very erratic. So I wandered down here with my CV and came in and introduced myself. Maya was working here at the time and I knew her from London College of Fashion so that helped, I started doing a couple days a week work experience and then after about six months I got offered an apprenticeship.
What is a day in the life like at Richard Anderson?
I come in and make some coffee and see what I have on for the day. I am independent but not yet on log work so I could be working on full finishes and forwards and I might get the odd alteration here or there or buttoning. There is some structure to the day – we work set hours and take breaks at pretty clockwork intervals.
Is there anything you had wished you had known before you started this journey?
The repetition and the routine is initially restricting but don’t get too hung up or attached to that because once you can get over that you will find freedom within your work.
What has been your most exciting moment at Richard Anderson?
It’s not really about ‘exciting’ moments but more about steady progress and the long term satisfaction that this brings. However if you are talking about significant moments it would have to be when I was given the apprenticeship. I was really thrilled, I didn’t expect it to be so soon because I was only doing the odd day here and there and I had no idea if there was even a space available.
What are you working on right now?
I am working on a simple navy worsted blazer; the only complicated thing about it is that the customer is quite a difficult shape to fit but we deal with things like that all the time. That is the beauty of bespoke; customers don’t have to compromise anything for the garment, our job is we make pieces to perfectly fit them no matter shape or size.
What is your favourite aspect of tailoring?
There is a lot repetition involved in bespoke tailoring especially as an apprentice. I can sometimes be doing the same thing on jackets over and over again, which is necessary of course, but my favourite aspect of tailoring is when the skill becomes natural. There is this sudden moment within that repetition when you become conscious that you have conquered a certain stage, that feeling of progression is a wonderful one.
What advice would you give to anybody that wants to get into the bespoke tailoring industry?
Start small and set yourself minor tasks and projects and really focus on your hand and sewing skill because that is what will ultimately get you in. Be realistic about your skills and your abilities, don’t put too much pressure on yourself but work hard and be completely open to learning and listening.