At the end of last year I got to know the new owners of the General Leather Company on Chiltern Street – now renamed Cromford Leather. This was exciting because they not only make leather and suede jackets on the premises, but undertake leather jacket alterations for brands and for private customers.
I’ve wanted to find a place to alter leather and suede garments for a while.
If you like (and, in reality, get used to) bespoke tailoring, you become increasingly frustrated at not being able to achieve anything like the same fit in leather.
Of course, the beautiful suede jacket Cifonelli made me last year is one way to get a perfect fit, but that is expensive, time-consuming and – for anything other than a simple sports-jacket shape – difficult to design.
For whatever the perils of bespoke tailoring, suits are pretty easy to commission as a customer. There are relatively few variables, and there are clear traditions and rules around most of them.
Leather jackets, on the other hand, are much harder.
A collar can be many different widths, heights and shapes; the body can be skin-tight or have a lot of excess; design details like zips and pockets fundamentally alter the look.
And a bad leather jacket is just awful. Nothing else will make a man look more dated, sad or unfashionable.
Leather Jacket Alterations and Bespoke – Cromford Leather
I went through the difficulty of this process with the leather jacket Davide Taub made me at Gieves & Hawkes.
I still really like the result, but there are a few things I would definitely change if I could, and I also realise how many other things could have gone wrong.
Far safer, then, to buy ready-to-wear. Let Ralph Lauren, Seraphin or Nigel Cabourn design the jacket for you.
They may still get it wrong, but at least you can see the finished garment before you buy it, try it on and consider its style.
The only issue is fit. A ready-made garment is made to fit an average customer, and few people are average.
So the solution: buy a ready-made jacket and have it altered somewhere.
The problem is there are very few workshops that can do this. Davide worked with one for my leather jacket, but they are outside London and often don’t have capacity.