Thursday, 10 October 2013

Q & A with David Newell, Newell Bespoke

David Newell in his Soho studio with colleagues, Photo Amanda Thomas
To describe David Newell simply as a tailor would be missing the point entirely: a background of product design, music production and training alongside the likes of Stella Mccartney and Alexander McQueen has all contributed to the creation of Newell as Sartorial Designer.  Describing his suit creation process to that of a practical sculpture, this is the guy to tell us why wearing a suit today make just as much sense as it ever has done. His clients are the ones with the grownup jobs in the creative industries: the lawyers for the record labels, the accountants for the ad agencies: those who need a combination of Newell's design and the authoritative old school association that comes sewn into the lining of every good suit.

We meet David dressed impeccably in one of his own creations, a denim pin stripe...It felt only appropriate to ask if this is his uniform of choice.

"I enjoy wearing a suit now because I have a suit that fits me well.

"I could understand why people don't like wearing them.  usually its a requirement of their job so what they tend to do is buy a suit that's cheap as possible so as a result it's not made very well. hence he price, the fabric's not very nice and its just there is nothing nice about it at all so generally what tends to happen is they get home and just throw their jacket off straight away and kind of abuse their suits because they don't care and hence it wont really last that well anyway. like people who buy cheap cars or someone has a real classic they tend to look after it better, classic cars are the ones in good condition - the expensive ones because they really look after it. and hence with suits if you spend 

"Cheap suits are a false economy where people would probably buy 3 cheap suits a year,  trash them to death, and that's like £1000,  where they could have bought a £1000 suit just look after it and it would last your probable ten years as a result and the reason why i like wearing a suit is that it is so comfortable compared to the suits that i had to have worn the cheaper ones, it now feels like i don't really have a jacket on anymore, just feels like a shirt.

Newell uses denim in a lot of his current creations, which seemed strangely appropriate to me as it is the ultimate working man's fabric, and the suit has now spanned the classes to be the uniform of choice, David explained how this has come about:

"In this day and age the industrial age is pretty much over in England, (Denim) was the industrial age fabric, so now its more of a service industry that we're going into where suits and presentation is paramount, so I'm bringing that same fabric back into that kind of environment again. although there is still a working class society in England there isn't really anyone physically working (like in a factory) , So these people who, prior to them were working, their kids or grandkids are probably now doing work that is more middle class, forward facing, service industry, wearing suits as a result, so the denim sort of full circles that.

Newell, in one of his own creations, the extremely popular pin stripe denim suit. Photo Amanda Thomas
"When I was at St Martins' I was actually doing international product design, so I was nothing to do with fashion. same side of the brain, still problem solving in a creative capacity. I worked for michiko koshino, designing her perfume bottles and shampoo bottles, even a shower unit. But she was the first person to push the camouflage, so i'm still influenced by her. I've always been around fashion designers, a lot of my friends were fashion designers. As I was going through I was always involved in fashion at some point just to get me through college and ended up at Savile Row, and then ended up managing their flagship concession stores and that's how I got into tailoring, was there for 10 years and here (Newell Bespoke) for 3. 

"I've always looked at making suits as 'practical sculpture', you're sculpting it around a person's body and it has a practical end use as a result so that's how I see it and it's using that design aspect and problem solving because my consultation takes pretty much the most amount of effort the tailoring side of things (I don't actually do the sewing ) I made that decision when I started because the guys that i use have been doing it for 30, 40 even 50 years and they are the best, there is no way I could beat that with kind of time scale.

"There are a few of them out there, they are few and far between and hence why a full bespoke is expensive to get something done these days, it's totally worth it, hence why i source a lot of my stuff in italy because there is much more of a tradition in italy; the kids actually want to learn and get into it, not so much over here. There's much more of a family orientation, there are many more Italian tailors at a high level. If you look at Italy is one of the more traditional countries as far as design is concerned. If you look at the son the grandson and the father, they are practically wearing the same things.  

"At the top level, British and Italian tailoring it's just a case of preference but in general there are so many more tailors in Italy.

Back in September, I styled up Oyeth Pitterson in some of David's Newell Bespoke creations. Have a look back along the blog to see just how good this guy is.

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