High street tailoring:
Styles may come and go, but good tailoring remains in fashion for those seeking quality and a personal touch.
Walker Slater is upholding a tradition for creating well-cut clothes made to fit the customer, using cloth from the finest weavers.
Its shops in Edinburgh and London – with others due to open in Glasgow, and possibly St Andrews – cater for a range of discerning buyers from the 15-year-old wanting his first suit to the businessman looking for a durable, but stylish outfit for the office.
Kris Dziewiatkowski, who manages the Victoria Street menswear shop in the heart of Edinburgh’s old town, is offering customers a choice of how they buy their suits.
There is an off-the-peg range, costing about £450, which can be altered to fit. Next is a personal tailoring service, which offers customers up to 80 cloths, different linings and the opportunity to choose buttons, vents, lapels, and so on. The finished suit, costing an average £650 or £750 for a three-piece, can be delivered within six weeks. There is also a made-to-measure service offering the full range of choices costing an average of £950.
“Everything is made from natural fibres and each suit is tailored for the individual,” says Kris.
“We do not ‘hard sell’ or discount. The customer knows he can expect a personal service and we work with them through the process to build a rapport and trust so that we understand what they want.”
Walker Slater has been in Edinburgh since the early 1990s and apart from selling suits and accessories, such as hats and ties, to individual customers it also provides uniforms and other corporate wear to businesses, including hotels such as the G&V and Radisson.
It has won plaudits and endorsements from the fashion world and celebrities such as the actors Alan Cummings and Benedict Wong who appeared in a Walker Slater suit at the premiere of Dr Strange.
Off the peg and personal tailored suits come in three styles:
The Martin is a slim fit which is slightly shorter in the body and with narrow trousers. The Edward is designed to complement the body shape. Kris says “It hides a lot of things!”
The William is a traditional comfortable cut with wider trousers which “look good with turn-ups”.
With these choices the customer is unlikely not to find something that fits and matches his style, says Kris. “Some people are like mannequins…they can put on a suit and it fits perfectly. But most people are not built like that.”
These suits are designed by the company in Scotland and made in Portugal, which has a long tradition of fine tailoring, while alterations are undertaken in Edinburgh. Cloths are mainly Scottish, English and Italian.
“We have customers coming to us from all over the world,” says Kris. “They are buying into the quality of the cloth, the styling, and the brand.
“Many of our suits are made from a limited amount of cloth so there may be only a handful that are the same. Customers like that feeling of wearing something special to them.”
A full made-to-measure service offers unlimited choices and a suit, made in England, can be ready within 10 to 12 weeks. Joe Hall, the made-to-measure specialist, says Walker Slater’s choice is much greater than some others provide.
“Most places have two books of worsted wool, for instance. We have about 15,” he says. “Our cloth selection stands out. We have about 8,000 for the customer to choose from.”
The customer can select from a range that includes Scottish tweeds and English worsteds to linens and flannels.
Joe explains: “We work with the customer, asking what he wants to use his suit for and in what environment. What time of year will it be worn? Is it for work or a special event? Then we look at appearance and that leads on to the styling.”
He says the firm now attracts a lot of young customers interested in vintage styling such as braces and a fishtail rear to the trousers, which stops the shirt coming out.
“Some have been influenced by television shows such as Peaky Blinders and others are just reacting to the cheap but disposable fashions on the high street.”
Walker Slater shops can be found at:
Victoria Street, Edinburgh
Covent Garden, London
Full details are available on the Walker Slater website here: www.walkerslater.com