I’ll admit it, I’m a West End kind of guy. When visiting London I spend most of my time somewhere between Park Lane and The Strand, with few notable exceptions. Rarely though do I have reason enough to hike out to Spitalfields, which has spent the last fifteen years or so transforming itself into one of the coolest neighborhoods on the planet. So when Timothy Everest invited me out for an afternoon at his townhouse atelier and design studio I just couldn’t say no. I hopped on the Central Line and promptly made my journey east into the heart of E1.
Timothy Everest The Man
Upon meeting Timothy Everest, one word immediately came to mind – gracious. As he took me through the atelier at 32 Elder Street, he pointed out beautiful garments and details as if they were a matter-of-fact. There was no elaborate show and nothing pretentious or inaccessible, just the very best because that’s how he and his staff believe things ought to be done.
Mr. Everest was originally skeptical about becoming a tailor. “I really wanted to be a race-car driver,” he told me, “but the other thing I was always interested in was fashion. I remember being a kid, maybe 12 or 13 living in Kent and getting trousers made down at market for 5 pounds or whatever, so I guess it sort of makes sense.” He came to tailoring because he was moving away from his parents, needed a job, and had an uncle working as a tailor on the high street. “I thought it would be a really boring job, honestly,” and the plan was to eventually segue into the fashion industry.
London Clubs, Tommy Nutter & Elton John
While in London, Mr. Everest got involved in the East London club scene, which only further fanned his fashion flames. “I was quite a shy person, so with clubbing it was attractive to be able to dress up or dye my hair and be a kind of individual. My looks ended up being mostly suit-based.” Bored with the high street tailoring experience, he looked to rockstar tailor Tommy Nutter for his next opportunity. “I went to see Tommy Nutter and he asked if I knew who he was. I said ‘Of course I do!’ but obviously I didn’t know anything. He showed me pictures of Abbey Road, and Elton John and I thought it was so cool and quite fashionable. I badgered him for about two months, I really wanted the job badly, and he eventually gave me a three month trial – it lasted about five years.”
During those five years, Mr. Everest was involved in some of the most exciting projects in contemporary tailoring. “I suppose I was more ambitious than I thought. I would design things, draw them, and put them on his desk. He’d ask who did them and then ask me for more. So I ended up being twenty one and designing Elton John’s world tour, along with some other bits and bobs. It was a baptism by fire, but great fun. Tommy was much more a friend than a boss, but he was also like my University.” After winning awards for his window displays, dressing international superstars, and just plain having a ball, Mr. Everest decided to leave Savile Row.
The next few years would see him working with ready to wear shops, as a stylist for TV and photoshoots, and selling suits out of his car. “I was running around in a two-door coupe, with a Vuitton trunk full of swatches in the back, visiting customers, and thought it would be really cool if I could revisit the tailoring with a modern approach.” And that he did. Twenty five years ago Mr. Everest moved to the East End full time and began what would become nothing short of a global empire founded on the principles of bespoke tailoring. But, despite the immense success, multiple celebrity-filled client books, and even being awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) last year, Mr. Everest remains a kind, down-to-earth gentleman whose passion is immensely contagious.
The headquarters of the bespoke operation is a restored Georgian townhouse at 32 Elder Street. “When I bought the house it was madness…I had a feeling something was going to happen [to Spitalfields] but I had really no idea.” There had been an investment bank occupying the premises before Mr. Everest bought it, and he striped the wallpaper, repainted, refinished the wood floors, and completed all the other renovations himself. “I would barter suits for some of the work that I couldn’t do.”
Once the house was finished there was still one problem: how to get people to come to East London for bespoke suites. The artisan bakeries and organic coffee shops I passed on my way to Elder Street were not even a thought yet, and most of the warehouses were still warehouses, not music venues and art galleries. It took some time, but people did come. They came from everywhere, and they still do.
When you first open the imposingly-heavy door, you enter a modest but bright room furnished with a hip sofa and a side-table piled high with magazines and art books. This is where you would come to be measured, do a fitting, or just sit and have a chat with Mr. Everest if you were thinking about a commission. Upstairs though is where all the action happens.
Head up a flight of steep wooden steps and you’ll find another fitting room, racks of partially finished garments, finished samples, and the myriad cloth books, button samples, etc. a Timothy Everest client has at his (or her) disposal. Up one more flight of stairs is the cutting room and a workshop space. Everything is cut on-site, and much of the hand-work is done just above the fitting rooms as well. To my surprise, most of the workers were young, stylish gentlemen and ladies – they produce fantastic work that belies their youth.
The Timothy Everest Signature Travel Blazer
While certainly not the most traditional piece, the Everest Travel Blazer has been a signature piece for years. The idea is that if you’re traveling you’ll only need one jacket that can accommodate all the accouterments you might need throughout the day. You can strap your newspaper safely at your side, tuck some pens and cigars in the breast pocket, and thread your camera strap through the single epaulet to keep it securely in place. The hand-stitching at the edges of the lapel and ends of the back pleat are astounding, as are the tiny buttonholes for the side strap. This is truly some of the finest detail work I have ever seen.
The Design Studio
Just around the corner from the bespoke operation is Mr. Everest’s design studio. “My school was more visual than written, and I’ve always taken inspiration from movies, photographs, and such.” The back wall is filled floor to 12 or 15 foot ceiling with design, fashion, and film books of every shape, size, and color. Can you tell I’m envious? (continued on next page)
Mr. Everest has, over the years, expanded from his own bespoke and ready to wear to also consulting with a variety of brands and corporations all over the world. As close as the British mainstay Marks & Spencer, and as far as Korea, Everest is responsible “from the concept to the paper bag” for more of the world’s menswear than you might think. To go through all of his collaborations here would be madness, but there are a few new developments which are particularly interesting.
Brooks & the John Boultbee Biking Apparel Collection
British cycling brand Brooks wanted a line of cycling fashion, and the result was the recently-launched John Boultbee line. The first piece was a roll-up rain cape, furnished with reflective Dashing Tweeds. Wanting to do something more tailoring-based, Everest crafted what is now known as The Criterion Jacket. A masterpiece, in my not-so-humble opinion, of technical tailoring, this jacket has it all. Classically styled, but with modern technology behind every seam, the jacket includes a shooting back, reflective strips, a Ventile body (a silent cotton fabric originally used by the military), a shoulder strap, easy-access pockets, and a signature tweed lining. It’s easy to look at a piece like this a forget how much research is required before a single piece of cloth is cut. “What’s the point of reinventing the wheel when we have so much stuff that already works, like ergonomic sleeves from fighter pilots and other things. We draw from all of that.”
I’m afraid I’ve been a bit verbose, but after spending an afternoon with Mr. Everest I truly believe he has a lot to share. From his early passion for film and fashion to his technical mastery, you can tell that when Timothy Everest looks at something he really looks at it. And if it’s coming out of his workshop or from a brand he is working with, you can be sure that when you look at it you’ll be impressed. So next time you find yourself in London, fight the impulse and get thee to E1 and visit Timothy Everest. I promise you’ll soon find yourself not missing Mayfair at all.Timothy Everest
32 Elder Street
London E1 6BT
Tel: +44 (0)20 7377 5770