Northern Society of Costume and Textiles
Suit you Sir
Firbeck Village Hall, Nr Rotherham

Our last meeting was held on Saturday, 21 June, 2014
“Suits you, Sir!”
at The Village Hall,
New Road, FIRBECK, Rotherham S81 8JY

We had two splendid speakers this time: one, a hands-on tailoring-practitioner and one a researcher with a background in dress.

11.00am:    ‘Suit yourself; the secrets of the tailoring world’, Michelle Pye

Michelle Pye based in Leicestershire blames both her mother and Blue Peter for her addiction to sewing and tailoring. Michelle left school at 16 and started working in a tailors doing all the boring jobs as well as learning the skills to be able set herself up in business as a seamstress for 20 years.
She now owns the English Couture Company that expertly supply fabrics for all sewing requirements, as well as running courses from tailoring to bra making and beginners to advanced couture dressmaking.
Michelle talked about some of the machinery in a tailors workshop used to make the perfect jacket. You can’t get an older suit than a suit of armour but still there are similarities to the modern man’s suit with its chest piece and padding.
Michelle finished by showing a brief history of Saville Row.

2.00pm:      ‘Leeds-tailoring, Demob Suits & post-war Menswear’, Danielle Sprecher

Danielle introduced herself as a New Zealander now settled here in England studying for her PhD at Leeds University. Danielle’s subject is Manufacturing of Menswear in Leeds from 1900 onwards. Leeds was the manufacturing City only 2nd to London in the 1900’s. W Blackburn and Hepworths (later to become Next) were innovative in their approach to make ready to wear Menswear, but above all Montague Burton declared all men should be able to purchase a suit for no more than a weeks wages being 55 shillings. When war broke out Burtons were making ¼ of all allied services and Military Uniforms here in the North of England. Civilian Suits were still needed for men during war time but the austerity measures limited the design and cut of garments. Post War 1944 de mobilized men were all offered a suit, shirt, hat and Coat to help them back into civilian life but these were well cut and acceptably fashionable. Burtons made De Mob suits only in certain colours and designs (even though 47 styles were being made) all ready to wear. The cloth was excellent quality and the suits were churned out of the Leeds factories at a rate of 45,000 per week. The De Mob suits were not greatly liked by those who had to wear them and were always either too large or too small and some said looked like old time gangsters. Men got to know on the grapevine who was supplying the best De Mob suits, and looking at the labels in the Jackets were able to establish which code number belonged to which manufacturer, some of those codes were from Saville row tailors and were well sort after by the more fashionable Gentlemen. In some cases Men were issued with a suit who had never previously owned one. Most de mob suits were well used and some of the listeners of todays lecture recalled their Fathers using their De Mob suits for most of their lives reducing it to the gardening clothes once well worn. Shortly after the War young American Men influenced the style of tailoring with the draped look 2 piece suit made in a lighter fabric. New styles were appearing all the time and fashionable young men were demanding more interesting jazzed up styles.

Janet Hull