When Oscar was learning his craft, he neatly laid out the various parts necessary to make a jacket (or coat as they say on Savile Row). There was the fabric that everyone sees, along with the buttons and sowing thread. Then there was the lining, shoulder pads – much easier to make a jacket with those as they can hide a multitude of sins in terms of making and fitting a jacket, body canvas, chest canvas, domette that prevents horse hairs from the canvas poking through and to lend more shape to the chest area, possibly some fusing to reinforce the pocket openings, or on cheaper makes the whole front of the jacket would be fused, collar canvas, and melton / felt for the under collar. It is exhausting just reading this list. There is a famous video where Giorgio Armani rips the stuffing out of a jacket, the end result is a shapeless bag:
Oscar looked at all the components and decided to start from the very beginning, the essence of the jacket: the fabric, and the absolute bare necessities: buttons and sewing thread. He didn’t want to create a shapeless minimalistic garment – the tunic and kimono have been around for centuries. He wanted something that was weightless, soft and comfortable, but with shape and form - not a boxy tent, someone had already done that. He wanted the hourglass bespoke Savile Row silhouette, but the shape created only through precise cutting and sewing, not through heavy canvas and padding. Photograph of Oscar wearing an unstructured barchetta blazer in vintage cashmere, inside out so one can see the construction.
The softness and weightlessness would be achieved through a curated fabric selection, and changing the fundamental structure of a jacket – the shoulder. Most jackets have shoulder pads, and simply removing them is not enough. Their removal helps in creating a feeling of weightlessness and one can compensate for their removal by re-cutting the jacket, but at the end of the day, the jacket still sits on the shoulders, and if they are not perfectly set as the pattern is, one ends up with unsightly creases around the armhole. Photograph of one of the lightest men's blazers ever made.
Simply reducing the weight of the fabric as much as possible, by making the garment in the thinnest and lightest fabric possible – a bit cold in winter, doesn’t change the fundamental problem of the jacket sitting on the shoulders. One of the few times Oscar’s master’s degree in philosophy has a practical application: get the jacket to sit somewhere else – in our case, the collarbone. Our bespoke cutter who has half a century of cutting experience, helped develop this system with Oscar, and this subtle but crucial change, makes all the difference. We apply this principle to all our sleeved garments. We create razor sharp Savile Row silhouettes, but with an unparalleled level of comfort. Our garments made of nothing but fabric, thread and buttons are what we call our unstructured tailoring. Photograph of a bespoke Shetland tweed jacket and waistcoat completely unlined without canvas and lining.
Our garments with canvas and the option of shoulder pads are our structured tailoring, soft tailoring would probably be a more accurate description. A lot of our clients have commented that our jackets are like wearing pyjamas - you don’t feel you are wearing a jacket. When we use canvas and shoulder pads, we use the thinnest and lightest pads possible and the lightest possible canvases for the cloth and routinely use tropical weight canvas that weighs as much as paper for soft cashmere winter coats. We dispense with domette – the felt in the chest that we find makes a jacket feel thick and substantial and traps the heat, by finishing the canvas in a special way from our French trained baste maker. She is responsible for putting the bespoke jackets together for their fittings. She is very exacting and slow, but every stitch is accurate and done with a light hand, and only when she is satisfied, does she hand over the jacket for a fitting. She even keeps the heir to a certain throne, and a sultan waiting, because it has to be right. Photograph of a bespoke double face double brushed Italian cashmere peacoat with canvas but no shoulder pads and no lining.
Miles Davis said “the secret is not the notes you play, it's the notes you don't play.” For us it is the stitches we don’t put in.