I have been following Permanent Style for years but I don’t know the genesis of how it all started for you. Were you into tailoring from an early age or was your writing the beginning of a foray into that world?
No, I actually got into tailoring rather late. But I think an obsessive side to my personality took over rather quickly. It also broadened out quickly into aspects of style in general, from architecture to interior design.
You must have had quite a few suits made by now – does any piece of tailoring and from any particular house stand out for you as an all-time favourite piece?
I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear that I get that question a lot. I would say that my three favourite tailors, for three very different styles, are Anderson & Sheppard, Caliendo and Cifonelli. Choosing an individual suit is even harder...
|Simon Crompton wears a navy Cifonelli suit|
Before you tell me that it’s horses for courses, can you tell me whether English wool is superior to Italian wool in terms of the quality of a finished product?
No, not at all. There is very little difference between any mills or merchants in terms of what they can produce - it's largely a question of what they decide to put into it and the finishing they decide to apply. I generally advise readers to ignore labels and concentrate on the materials they are paying for - cashmere, silk, super-fine wools etc.
If you were going to advise our readers on three different cloth companies to seek out, which ones would you recommend and why?
Following on from my previous answer, I would say don't follow any particular companies at all. Just seek out designs that you like. Caccioppoli, for example, has been very popular in recent years because English tailors never used to carry these southern-Italian merchants.
|Cacciopoli wool bunches|
What is it about the English and Northern Italians and their obsession with muted colours?
There's a school of thought - that I at least partially prescribe to - that the most sophisticated dress is simple and plain, but of the highest quality. Certainly that attitude becomes more practical the more conservative and professional your employment.
Some of my black tie customers ask me a question that I don’t know the answer to. Can suspenders (braces) be worn under a waistcoat or a cummerbund?
Certainly under a waistcoat - the optimum cut for any waistcoat will always be over high-waisted trousers, which will usually require braces. They work less well with a cummerbund, but if your trousers are high-waisted I would still recommend it.
Can you recommend your favourite 3 shops to visit if an Australian was interested in tailoring houses and was heading to London this summer?
Anderson & Sheppard Haberdashery (probably the best shop in the world for tailoring accessories); Drake's (just across the road); and Trunk Clothiers (a bit further away and not entirely tailoring related, but a wonderful store).
As the world progressively dresses down more and more, how do you see tailoring evolving over the next 30 years? Do you think there will come a day where we will do away with the suit altogether?
I don't think so, no. There will always be a need to be smartly dressed, to demonstrate the seriousness of a particularly environment or event. And the suit will always occupy that place. It might evolve, perhaps even beyond recognition, but the role will be the same.