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- Liberty Clayton -
Apprentice Coat Maker
Liberty ClaytonAnderson & Sheppard
• Born - 02/05/1993
• Mentor – Jennie McWalter, Coat Maker
• Education - Newham College

What is your role at?

I’m an apprentice coat maker.


When did you first become interested in tailoring?

I was fifteen when I first became seriously interested in tailoring. I was working in a costume shop in Cambridge and I was fascinated by all the historical pieces there. I loved the structure of the military jackets, the smoking jackets and tailcoats.


What is your educational background?

I finished sixth form and did an arts foundation year. I decided to take a year out before university as I was really uncertain about what I wanted to do. I found the bespoke tailoring course at Newham College and I undertook the level one module to learn the basics of tailoring and pattern cutting.  Whilst doing this I knew that bespoke tailoring was what I wanted to do as opposed to attending university.


Who gave you your first opportunity?

Whilst I was at Newham College I decided to look for some work experience myself as you don’t get provided any until your third year of the course. I came to Anderson & Sheppard and showed Mr Hitchcock the work I had done at Newham College,  he advised me to visit John Kyriacou and Jennie at their workshop. I introduced myself to them and did a day’s work experience in the workshop; thankfully they asked me to come back.


What is a day in the life like?

It varies a lot depending on what type of jackets we have, because we have so many different types coming through the workshop we always have something interesting to do. Sometimes I’m fixing a jacket, canvasing, putting facings on or making sleeves. Anything I can do to assist Jennie I will do, if a jacket comes in and Jennie is doing something that I haven’t seen before I will watch as she explains the process. We are based in a workshop just off Savile Row but we get out and about, we may have to visit the pressers or the cutters at the bespoke shop.


Is there anything you had wished you had known before you started this journey?

The intensity of it all, I moved to London for this job so it’s easy to sometimes be consumed by it all and it can be hard to find balance between the  work and social life.


What was your most exciting moment at Anderson & Sheppard?

Definitely getting the apprenticeship, I’d been doing work experience for a while before the apprenticeship was offered to me. Having worked towards something for so long it was extremely exciting to feel like I had actually progressed and I was beginning my career.


What are you working on right now?

We are currently working on straight finish jackets for a customer who has ordered three identical blazers. The straight finish means that a customer does not need to come in for a fitting.


What is your favourite aspect of tailoring?

It would be working with such beautiful cloths. As a coat maker you get the opportunity to use the most amazing fabrics. My favourites are seersucker, linen and the cashmere blends. I also love working with the soft animal coats like alpaca wool and camel hair. I remember being obsessed with fabric and jackets when I worked at the costume shop and now I am making them. I fit all these pieces together to create something beautiful that someone is going to wear and hopefully treasure.


What advice would you give to anybody that wants to get into the bespoke tailoring industry?

I think the most important thing is to keep practising, when I was in college all I ever did was keep going over the hand stitches and pocket samples. Sometimes getting an apprenticeship can boil down to a person being at the right place at the right time.