Timothy Everest MBE is much more than a tailor. He’s also more than just another designer of impeccable, timeless garments. Vogue might celebrate the fact that Everest has “dressed some of the world’s most famous people” but he’s certainly more than a stylist to the stars. Everest is one of those talented creatives that has never stopped learning and pushing forward. You get the impression that he could lend his hand to any project and make it special. Timothy honours the traditions of great British tailoring but he’s also forward-thinking and utterly brave, you only have to look at the array of clothes Timothy and his team produce to see that this bespoke, made to measure and ready-to-wear clothing is to be enjoyed by a clientele that know a good thing when they see it, touch it and, most importantly, wear it – regardless of their celebrity status. We meet Timothy to find out more:
How does a boy born in a Welsh market town during the 60s become one of the biggest names in bespoke tailoring?
Timothy Everest: I actually wanted to be a racing driver growing up. After failing my formal education, my mum gave me two weeks to find a job so I ended up working with my uncle as a sales assistant in a high-street tailor called Hepworths. As a seventeen-year-old lad I thought it was all really boring but on reflection it was actually incredibly interesting because that store would go on to become what we now know as Next. That job taught me the skills of high street trading and the ethos behind a good old-fashioned retail experience – before the emergence of the overwhelming shopping centres we’re overwhelmed with today.
How did you make the move from the high street to Savile Row?
TE: Racing karts and rebuilding two-stroke engines on a Friday night soon lost its appeal when I started chasing girls and gravitating towards nightclubs. In the 1980s I’d drive down to London and hang out with the new romantic crowd at Steve Strange’s club night The Blitz. It was during this time I noticed an advertisement in the London Evening Standard for a “boy wanted” by the innovative Savile Row tailor Tommy Nutter. After a bit of luck and plenty of perseverance I landed the job in 1982.
You’ve obviously built up an incredibly successful brand of your own, was it scary setting up your own business?
TE: In truth, I got a bit disillusioned with Savile Row; not Nutter’s just the mentality of the street. I lasted five years at Nutter’s and truly learnt the art of bespoke tailoring but I noticed that many of the other tailors were becoming overly competitive and the industry wasn’t really investing in the future. I felt like many of the tailoring houses on Savile Row were not interested in modernising. After a stint working at a small menswear retailer on Chiltern Street called Levene, I got into styling for film, television adverts and the likes of MTV. I’d dress the great and the good and it was working with the likes of George Michael that I realised places like Savile Row weren’t really reaching out to the fresh group of young men schooled on designer brands. I recognised a possible market in packaging bespoke tailoring in a different way.
How would you describe the products you create nowadays?
TE: The brand is rooted in the traditions of tailoring but I’m not really interested in recreating a garment exactly as it was in 1958. I always try to subvert tradition, which is something I learnt whilst working at Nutter’s. I work within the narrow framework of tailoring but try and apply it to 2015. I’ve always been known for applying a British style of cut, colour and pattern to what I create but I’m not afraid to play around with those elements in everything we produce. It’s important to remember that we’re not in Milan, we’re in London, so we try to reflect that in everything make.
The setting for your stunning atelier isn’t Savile Row; it’s Spitalfields. Did you make a conscious decision to set up shop there and how has your location influenced the clothing you produce?
TE: I’ve always been intoxicated with Shoreditch and the rag-tag creatives who live there. At the end of the 1980s, I recognised the potential that was bubbling away. I also fell in love with a derelict Georgian house and knew it’d make the perfect setting for a fully working tailoring house that would demystify the art of tailoring for our clients. We try to take an east end view of Savile Row. Not the east end in the historical sense but the fact we work in a cutting-edge part of the city that is brave enough to take a different look at traditional tailoring methods. Also, I didn’t want to be at the bottom of Savile Row’s ladder, I wanted to be towards the top of my own.
You’re championed as the leader of the bespoke casual movement? What does that mean?
TE: It’s all about creating pieces that are all about the now yet still have that tailors eye for detail – pieces that aren’t necessarily a suit. My dream is that you’ll go to the pub and complement someone on what they’re wearing. That person will nicely boast that they’ve had everything made for them. Whether it’s a piece of knitwear, a shirt or a pair of trousers.
Do you have a standout piece from the current Timothy Everest collection?
TE: Our chore jacket certainly springs to mind. The jacket in raw-edge melton wool could be worn in winter as an overcoat or it’d work well in spring in a washed indigo needlecord. It could even be made in technical cotton to be worn as a piece of sportswear.
How would you describe a typical Timothy Everest customer?
TE: We’re finding that the savvy Timothy Everest customer is shopping across all three disciplines of tailoring, including bespoke, made-to-measure and ready-to-wear in their wardrobes. All of our customers are young people in different aged bodies, if that makes sense? They don’t think like everybody else and have their own mind. They’re a mixed bunch, from musicians to government ministers to chaps who just like to dress like individuals.
How do you define great style?
TE: It’s a cliché but just dress for you. Some of the best-dressed people I know could be called the worst dressed but at least they’re dressing for themselves. Yesterday a female customer walked into the workshop wearing some worn Lanvin tracksuit bottoms, a bobbled jumper and a Royal Mail jacket. She apologised for looking like a shambles but she actually looked really, really cool. It worked because of course she knows how to wear the most perfect cocktail dress and fitted suit but she’s also got the confidence to wear what she wants. She’s individual is brave enough to avoid looking like everyone else.
What’s next for Timothy Everest?
TE: We’ve opened a shop just off Shoreditch High Street in September last year where we now look further into deconstructing the craft of tailoring. Instead of a Georgian house we’re in a light industrial space that looks really cool. There’s a mix of great ready-to-wear garments but also a rail of stuff that can be tailored to fit the individual. In short, I want to try and redefine the modern wardrobe.
Interview by Elliott Lewis-George