Together, former city bankers, Ian Meiers and James Sleater have turned bespoke tailors, Cad & the Dandy into a modern day success story.
By sheer coincidence they were both made redundant from their city jobs during the height of the financial crisis. The two entrepreneurs separately decided to follow their aspirations to work in the tailoring industry but ended up becoming business partners when they were introduced by a mutual contact and realised their skills could compliment each other what with their knowledge and families connection in tailoring.
Cad & the Dandy within a short space of time went from modest rented office spaces to becoming the largest producer of bespoke items in the UK with shops in Savile Row, the city, Canary Wharf and more recently Manhattan, NY.
So much already achieved, yet, you get a feeling this is a journey that has only just begun. The future looks just dandy!
James Sleater took time out of his hectic schedule to answer our Q&A:
Elle: Public Description love your label for it’s suave best of British” tailoring. Where does your passion for formal dressing come from?
James: I think there is an elegance in finely cut clothes that is missing in mainstream fashion. Any kid can wear a hoodie or a T-shirt and think they are cool but there is nothing stylish about it. I think we should all care more about how we appear. Women are far more in tune with how they look. For the large part men have forgotten how to dress favoring instead t-shirts with naff logos emblazoned on them but tailoring and smart dressing is back in vogue and with advocates like David Gandy its only going to continue.
Elle: Who inspires you?
James: Anything and anyone can inspire me or us as a team, it can be someone putting certain colours or patterns together or a first time customer who has never had anything made before. Our house look is that of a modern tailor with a salute to the fashion men of old. So the likes of Aistaire, the Duke of Windsor all play a big part.
Elle: C&D have recently opened a Manhattan branch. What do you feel is driving the demand for British tailoring in New York?
James: The guys in the States have always looked to these Isles for style and the recent success of companies like Burberry Brit in America has further instilled their demand for British clothing. There are a few pretend tailors in New York who pass off made to measure clothing as true bespoke but those are on the wane. The Americans have a large set that want to be unique and reject the blandness of the likes of Abercrombie and see the value in hand made clothing in both its artistry and fundamentally in commissioning something that’s built to look good and last.
Elle: Do you see a big difference in London and New York fashion?
James: New Yorkers are braver in their suit fabrics which is strange.. for anyone that has spent anytime there especially in the financial districts will see that for the large part that there is almost a uniform blandness of chinos and jackets… all of which are impossibly large. But they are not the fashion guys, they are following the American uniform of “slacks and a sport coat”.
Londoners especially know the value of fit and that big is sloppy… Americans can too often fall in to the trap of big is comfortable but then again that is what their high street give them.
Elle: How would you define the C&D brand as a whole in one sentence?
James: We are about making people look stylish in a sophisticated way, making cool suits and reinvigorating the art of tailoring.
Elle: With the first Men’s Fashion Week this year, are you seeing that classic English tailoring is more significant now than it was 5 years ago?
James: Absolutely guys like Gandy & David Walliams are always given praise in how they look and its having a great impact in our market, with more press coverage than ever on tailoring, its filtering through to obviously the new Guys on Savile row and even the high street with made to measure suits popping up at places like Reiss, ™ Lewin etc etc. Its also making companies like Aubin and Wills and their short jackets look miss placed (http://www.aubinandwills.com/en-gb/product/huntstaw-classic-suit-blazer-012787080) Tailoring is all about balance and proportions and these overly short jackets and low rise trousers are not what tailoring is about.
Elle: Name the most interesting bespoke item you have been commissioned to make so far?
James: We have had many great commissions, but the most rewarding are those where the customer looks at themselves in the mirror and beam. But we have made everything from replica of Jonny Depps Willy Wonka jackets, to tweed morning suits, to bespoke boiler suits.
Elle: What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
James: Surely being a Londoner it has to be a commute to work that doesn’t involve public transport!
Elle: Can we have your predictions for Autumn / Winter?
James: Separates. Teaming jackets and trousers. It takes more style to make this look right and its a great look for when the evenings draw in.
Elle: Finally, describe C&D in three words.
James: The new bespoke!