Tony the Soho Tailor: A Soho legend

With over 50 years of tailoring in Soho Tony has seen it all.

How did you start out in tailoring?

I always liked to be in fashion, I started to tailor on my own and found, obviously, I wasn’t as good as someone who could do it properly, so I went to Saville Row and I worked with a guy called John Michael Ingram. He was next door to Tommy Nutter in those days. And that was about 68. I did my tailoring course work there. And then from there, around 68 the Beatles were playing on the roof, and so I listened to that while I was working. And then I opened up my first studio in Noel Street, Soho, and I was there working for over 48 years and then the building got sold. So I had to find somewhere and I found this place in Borovic Fabrics, and I’ve been here seven years. That leads me to say at present I’m looking for another premises, which is going on now. So if any clients want to phone me, just get on to me and I’ll tell ’em where to meet. We can sort something out, you know? Alright. 

Is there a certain style that’s changed over time?

No, listen, you can pick a style now. Yeah. you’ll come out with a style that you like and it will be from the twenties. It will even be from earlier. Right. Vintage style because nothing goes out of fashion, it goes out of fashion, but it comes around again, always comes back around. Sometimes it’s narrow lapels, thin notch, lapels. The best when you’re making a suit, you have a big lapel. You know, all different shapes but they go outta fashion and they come back. It’s like a double breasted jacket, it’d be in fashion, then people will say, oh, we don’t want it any more. Then a single press comes in and It just changes right there.

Your business seems to be on a need to know basis. How did that occur? So it’s not really like you are known, but you’ve got all these known clients. 

Really when I started, I didn’t go in just to pick clients. Clients found me. If you do someone a good job and you’re working on stuff, for them it’s word of mouth. they tell somebody. And in Soho you are working for film companies. So the film companies might be working one day with someone famous and they’re saying, oh, go around Tony, get that done. Then wardrobe casting, as someone who’s picking up today, she’s got a client who’s an actor, wants it quick.

So I get it done, you know? It’s word of mouth and people come back to you.

When you create a suit from scratch, how long is the process?

Six to eight weeks. Depending on what exactly they want. People like different linings and different styles. We obviously try to make it as best we can. So it’s not rushed.

Why do you like Soho so much?

Well I used to go to school in Sloane Square, we used to come to Soho so I used to go to Chelsea Football ground, watch them play. So it is sort of within my sort of area. Yeah. So as a kid, 15, 16 growing up I used to come to Soho as you do. You know, you look around, there’s so many things to see. There were the review bars, there was Raymond’s review, Ronnie Scott’s nightclubs. The marque hundred club bag of Nows, Carnaby Street, you know, kids used to come for this sort of thing. So I’ve been brought up in Soho. Yeah. Ever since I Was a kid.

Has it changed a lot since then?

Of course it has. Everything changes

For the better or the worse?

It depends who you’re talking to. Some people say it’s not as nice as it was. I think it’s okay. The only thing I don’t like with soho is every time they do something up, the rents and the properties get more expensive, so you’re knocking out the little guy, you know, the small businesses, you


Are small businesses such as yours, kind of dying breed?

They’re all going slowly. Yeah. But I refuse to go.

Any funny tailoring stories?

Well I’ve had a lot of funny times with Rob Bryden. He’s, I mean, he’s funny. In Noell Street, I used to have Kenneth Williams come down regularly and he always, when he walked down the stairs, it was like he was walking onto a stage because he was, he was that funny, you know what I mean? We used to have some really good funny laughs and things, stories he used to tell me, which I really couldn’t really repeat. Yeah. But he was probably interested, a very interested man and clever, intelligent. Alright. Okay. And then one day my son phoned me up and he said, do you know Kenneth Williams? So I said, yeah, of course I do. I said, what, what, what makes you say that? He said, dad, I’m just reading a book, his biography and you are in it. And I said, wow, I didn’t know that, you know? 

Who are most iconic figures 

I’ve met John and Yoko. Yeah. Also Paul and Linda. We did some suits for David Beckham. We’ve done suits with Rob Briden, jackets for Gregory Porter. There’s, there’s, there’s lots of

People I can name. I’ve done work for, even Michael Bla back before the X Factor when he first came over and he wasn’t as big a star as he is now, you know? Yeah. He’s, he was just, I just spent some time in the hotel with him down on Dean Street and we used to sit in his room and now I remember the day he was going through he, he played at the X Factor and one of his records just really made it. And he was over the moon Yeah. Lovely guy.

Really nice guy. Yeah.

What would you say is your favourite type of suit?

I like the big lapels. Yeah. Nice shaped lapels. The fabric. It’s the fabric, you know, it just, just depends. You can have an evening suit. Yeah. So you specialise in a certain fabric. I’ve got one, the sheet material that I made, it’s a, A tiger. Alright. Yeah. I call it the tiger jacket. I made it the year of the tiger in Chinatown. It has the Versace tiger on the tie. I like Versace. I’ve got a cat called Versace. Genuine Versace. I don’t wear them out, I can’t really wear a tiger trouser without, ’cause it’s, it’s silk and it would wear quickly, you know? Yeah,

As less people are wearing suits has that impacted you?

People stopped wearing suits, yeah, they just went casual. So where it is good for me, I did alterations, I wasn’t making suits, so I was still working. Then the suits came out, people wanted suits right. So I went back to that, but at the same time they still want suits fitted so I’ve got the best of both worlds. 

I do love what I do.

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