After I wrote a book review of the Savile Row Cutter by Hormazd Narielwalla, I got in touch with the author and was invited to visit Dege & Skinner Military & Civilian Tailors at their shop on Savile Row. I happily accepted and visited them just after seeing Andrew Ramroop’s bespoke suit exhibition, and they showed me around their workshop..
Michael Skinner is a real pleasure to talk to; naturally talkative and knowledgeable, he has a great sense of humor. Although formally retired, he still comes to the tailor shop on a regular basis since he loves tailoring. That day, I wore a vintage suit from Michael Hussmüller of Munich and Michael remembered him. ” Ich bin Maßschneider”( I am a bespoke tailor) – were the words Mr. Hussmüller used to introduce himself to Michael Skinner. We talked a little but about German tailoring, the Tailor’s Guild and cutting.
Eventually, I got a glimpse at Michael’s suit lining and I had to ask for a picture. From the outside, it looked just like a classic navy suit, but on the inside it I was lined with an thick, patterned silk scarf. Now, this is something I have seen men wearing before, but they were all younger – not in their 70′s! It’s definitely not a detail that many would expect from Savile Row, especially from a man born to a more conservative generation.
As you can see, Michael Skinner not shy of color in general. His light blue, purple, yellow, black and pink striped tie is certainly not my style, but he pulled it off well with his red-white striped shirt.
Then he showed me a special hunting suit.
The Phitwell Suit
Several decades ago, Michael Skinner’s father William George Skinner, know as “Tim,” invented the so-called Phitwell coat, a particular shooting jacket designed to provide to utmost range of movement. When I stopped by, Michael proudly presented to me a six piece shooting suit that they just finished for a lady who loves country sports. Just like a regular shooting coat, the Phitwell features deep shooting pleats on either side of the back. In addition, the coat was only partially lined and split along the back. The two halves of lining had rivets along the edge and were held together with elastics. Apparently, this construction provides even more flexibility than a regular shooting coat. Although the coat was too small for me to test it, I thought it seemed like an interesting idea.
Moreover, I liked the idea of contrasting flaps and cuffs on a casual coat. If I remember correctly, the lady ordered a coat, a waistcoat, two pairs of plus twos, plus fours and regular pair of matching tweed trousers.
Overall, I was impressed to see that such things are still ordered from time to time. On the other hand, that’s the reason why many go bespoke – the ability to truly create something that’s not available anywhere else.
Dege & Skinner Tailor Store
Next, we toured the store and the workshop. Overall, it was smaller than I had anticipated, though they were in the middle of an expansion. The storefront represents a typical English Tailor store, with parquet wood floors, colorful accessories and a number of garments on display.
Other than custom made garments such as suits, overcoats, morning wear and evening wear, Dege & Skinner also offers bespoke shirts, dressing gowns, accessories and even military uniforms – in short, everything a man could possibly want in his closet.
The workshop is situated right behind the storefront and in a true craftsman-like manner, it is packed with garments, cloth, irons, tools and anything else a tailor might need. Because of the expansion, everything was even more packed than usual. In general though, I am always suspicious of craftsmen that present me a clean workshop, because I wonder if they really work there. Most craftsmen I have met do not maintain pretty workshops - they focus on producing marvelous products.
All bespoke garment pieces are cut on the premises, and most of the following work is done in house. The things that are outsourced are all done in Britain. In addition, the firm licences the production of a Dege & Skinner RTW clothing line, but the result is very different from the traditional garments made on Savile Row.
I was surprised to see that there is still quite a demand for ornately decorated military uniforms. These are particularly tricky because of the regulations. Everything on a uniform has to be at the right place and the latest regulations will help to clarify how things must look.
So, if you are in London and you are interested in military garments and slightly more structured bespoke garments, don’t forget to stop by at Dege & Skinner.Dege & Skinner
10 Savile Row, Mayfair, London W1S 3PF
Piccadilly Circus Tube Station
Green Park Tube Station
Tel.:020 7287 2941
Monday – Friday: 9:15am – 5:15pm
Saturday: 9:30am – 12:30pm