By Becky Johnson, Advertising Week
As a sewist, I push myself to take on projects beyond my ability. I got a request to make a men’s suit jacket, which theoretically I should be able to create. This is not a request that can be taken lightly. No sewist wants the finished product to look “homemade.” We all have the horrifying image of the dowdy homemade dress. If you were not a child in the 70s wearing something out of Little House on the Prairie, count your blessings. Many of us are still scarred.
Luckily, I’ve been doing this awhile so I also know the sewing community around the world is one of the most generous communities you will find, both in sharing skills and in transparency. Pattern designers, fabric suppliers, and other sewists often share in-depth tutorials for free. There’s even a Craft Industry Alliance that keeps the community up-to-date and provides a centralized hub. Even though they’re not free, I immediately ordered Craftsy classes on classic tailoring. While I can’t recommend Alison Smith’s classes enough, those are geared mostly towards women’s wear. I needed men’s tailoring tutorials.
Then I searched YouTube for men’s bespoke tailoring. The Bespoke Edge channel quickly became a favorite for style advise. The store is run by a father and his two sons out of Denver, Colorado, the Daily BE episodes are superb. Like what is a ticket pocket? Who knew? However, I needed more construction-technique advise.
While many cities have made-to-measure suit options, nothing else has history or reverence on par with Savile Row.
This is where Instagram fills a need for both amateur makers and professionals. Sewists, OOTD (outfit of the day) style makers, designers, fabric suppliers, fashion houses – anything to do with fashion, Instagram is the place to go. Blogs are slowly dying out in favor of Instagram conversations and stories. Doing a search for bespoke tailors will naturally bring you to professionals on Savile Row. Savile Row houses, like couture fashion houses, are finally making a comeback. While many cities have made-to-measure suit options, nothing else has history or reverence on par with Savile Row. Tailors training on Savile Row are learning from masters almost gone, and they’re all on Instagram.
I quickly became a big fan of Darren Beaman. Darren’s Instagram account is as authentic as it gets. He trained on Savile Row, he’s worked for and consults for larger design houses, such as Hart Schaffner & Marx in Chicago, and currently is back in London creating custom bespoke suits. He’s designed for the Prince of Wales and has designed patterns for mass production. While Darren will have trunk shows and takes private commissions, he loves teaching tailoring, saying, “It’s more important to educate people and show mistakes; I show my heart and trade on Instagram.”
Darren calls Instagram a “natural marketing machine.” He said he’s tried websites, but all visitors ever went to was the gallery and it never really translated to much else. He breaks all the “Instagram rules” but he doesn’t care because he’s sharing what he loves in “honest time” and looks forward to putting together videos of real time tailoring to share soon. With over 15k followers on Instagram as an individual tailor, he’s by far one of the most successful.
Unfortunately, Instagram can’t make this suit sew itself. I’ve got pick-stitching to practice and hair canvas to buy, but I’ll keep looking at Instagram to inspire myself to get it done right, and to find suppliers, and you can bet I’m not alone.