We sit down with Peter Harland, Nick Collier and Rhys Paul Jones of Liverpool’s Harland Collier to ponder the return of the artisan, the power of the suit, and the beauty of bespoke
‘When you really think about it,’ says Nick Collier, ‘the suit is the greatest weapon in a man’s daily arsenal. With it, he’s ready for anything the day has to throw at him.’
He’s not wrong. After all, a well-made, well-tailored suit speaks volumes before you’ve even said a word. It changes how you feel, how you carry yourself, and how people react to you. It betrays quiet confidence and an unparalleled eye for the finer details. And in terms of silhouette and composition, it will do you more favours than six months at the gym.
‘The art is in the figurations,’ adds Store Manager, Rhys. ‘Figurations go beyond simple measurements and are actually built around your body’s own, particular features.’ Those slouches, asymmetries, and quirks in posture that we all pick up along the way? Figurations offset those little traits to produce a one-of-a-kind suit that’s made specifically for its wearer.
Over the last 48 years, Harland Collier has garnered a well-earned reputation as one of the best bespoke tailors outside of London’s Savile Row. But for all of their sartorial knowhow, Harland Collier remains humble and approachable. In Nick’s own words: ‘We don’t see ourselves as a shop, there’s a whole experience that goes along with buying a suit. It’s a rite of passage of sorts; every man should go through it.’
And it would appear that more and more men are getting on board with the idea. With a marked increase in gents rejecting the limitations of off-the-rail garments, we’re witnessing a rediscovery of the charm and style of the traditional British suit. With throw-away fashion slowly but surely losing ground to longer-term fashion investments and more sustainable options, the humble tailor has also made something of a comeback as both a bastion of heritage and a master of innovation.
Outlining the typical underpinnings of the traditional British suit, Peter Harland highlights a few constants: ‘strong shoulders, stiff and exactingly-measured silhouettes, and closely-cropped, waisted jackets are hallmarks of a quintessentially British style.’ So too are more formal and ornamental flourishes such as waistcoats and double-breasted jackets (with a slight leaning towards wider lapels of late). These are the features that make up Harland Collier’s iconic house pattern, though they invite tweaks and touches from more recent trends and evolutions in silhouettes. For instance, everything seems to have shifted down a size: ‘Those comfortable in a 42 chest, for example, are now apt to size down one for a slimmer, more flattering fit,’ says Nick. ‘Breaks are almost a thing of the past, with a flash of sock very much in vogue amongst younger patrons.’
They’re not what you’d call traditional touches, admittedly. But therein lies the beauty of the bespoke suit: It’s not the stuffy uniform you might think it is. Sure, the suit has a lofty sense of heritage, history and tradition, and it comes with a set of rules to which you should (more or less) abide. But with the help of a good tailor, a suit can also be a very accessible, very exciting blank canvas with an array of solid but subtle flourishes of self-expression. EJ
For bespoke and ready-to-wear services, you can visit Harland Collier’s store in the MetQuarter, Liverpool. For alterations, visit their dedicated workshop at 6 Stanley Street, Liverpool. To book a fitting, call on +44 (0) 7555 775385 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Words by Will Halbert
Image Credits by Thomas Sumner