Recently I was approached on Instagram by Barrington Fabrics to try their range of wools for suits and jackets along with their range of linings. It coincided with me having had an urge to produce a new suit for the window of Le Noeud Papillon since we had been focusing heavily on art of recent and less on tailoring. In fact, it might have been over a year since I last made a suit which was unusual for us.
Two tones of colours I have recently been enamoured with are both royal blue, which you can see below as a wool and as the warp of our most recent 'Great Wave Of Kanagawa' silk as well as a kind of less than navy blue but darker than royal. That was the tone, which I have no describing word for, which was first suggested to me by a patron of Le Noeud Papillon which I sadly was unable to keep happy as a customer. He had come bearing an image of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the front page of GQ before he had become PM and whilst he was still marketing for the job. He was wearing a beautiful blue suit, certainly not navy, definitely not royal.
The customer had come to me to try an MTM suit service I was offered out of Asia which is very low cost and actually quite enjoyable if you know how to navigate their ordering system, which is mostly in mandarin. I had ordered the requested blue but it arrived and looked lighter than the royal below in colour and definitely not the less than navy colour desired. We went back to the drawing board and cut the customer a navy suit at our expense. It arrived, it was not the right fit in the shoulders, though the trousers were fine - how had the factory got the same measurements and made an ill fitting suit? Then we went on to do a third suit, this time, once again, the jacket was slightly out and I was now very much out of pocket. I drew a line in the sand and the customer and I locked horns.
It is the reason I have never wanted and never will do suits as a core business. My experience is that customers of a bespoke or MTM suit service are never entirely satisfied and even if they love it when they first walk out of the showroom, chances are they'll come back with a list of grievances in six months time.
Personally, I am a lot more forgiving with my tailor. The ones I still choose to deal with I have learned not to spoil the apple cart with. For you never know who will cut your next suit and if you grind your tailor on every aspect of the suit, from wool colour to cut, to construction, to the fine details, you will eventually wear thin the relationship. I have trousers from a navy suit I cut with a reputable Sydney tailor almost three years ago that are an inch off on the hips. I never got him to alter the suit - because I knew I had pushed him to change the waist band from his ordinary construction to something I invented and more importantly, I knew I would one day want him to cut me another suit.
Which brings me to one very special point - the fabric itself. Often tailors who make suits don't have the time to become exacting wool experts for you in terms of selecting colours and weaves and usually only offer bunches which are often given to them by fabric merchants who frequent the tailoring house. But increasingly as businesses move onto the web and social media you can find many new businesses which vertically integrate their supply chain straight onto the web. One such business is Barrington fabrics and by speaking to their salesman Aman directly, I was finally able to secure myself some less than navy, more than royal blue wool - a navy with a royal shimmer if you will.
Barrington fabrics isn't the answer to all your problems when it comes to tailored suits - but it is one way to take one of the problem areas away from the tailor - by researching and buying a reputable Huddersfield wool directly from a business located near the weaving looms which you can then put straight into your tailors hands thereby removing one more link in the chain that might break your experience.
As for that tone of blue - I have decided to call it 'Turnbull blue' - because on the one hand it is conservative like a navy - on the other it has a sort of establishment blue blood shimmer about it on certain angles. I think that's rather fitting.
See more of Barrington Fabrics' wools online. I particularly recommend their Jasper Super 150's range.