The Vertical Curve

16/8/12

When you do something for the first time, you often find that the hard things are unexpectedly easy and the easy things are unimaginably difficult. So it goes with making clothes. Luckily, I'm working with a brilliant maker - Robert Boyd Bowman (or 'Boyd' as he's universally known) and his company Rayner & Sturges.

SUPPOSEDLY HARD

Designing complex, structured clothes. Easier than you think. Just buy a mountain of stuff from charity shops, rip it apart, sketch the bits. Repeat until it all makes sense and you can express yourself.

Working with Savile Row. Tricky to find your way in but a pleasure once you’re past the gate.

Creating your own bespoke fabrics. Once you get your head around how fabrics are woven, it’s not that different from designing anything else. It can’t be harder than creating an artwork out of scent or pitching to Alexander McQueen (both of which I have done).

SUPPOSEDLY EASY

Grading.

Grading is what gives you you’re different sizes. In theory it couldn’t possibly be a simpler - you have your pattern made up and then a formula is applied to scale it up or down. It’s that straightforward.

Except it’s not. In reality there is no one set of rules - it’s total jazz and has cost me two precious months to get right.

Let me give you an example. 

You start off with a size 40 block and size it up to a 42. The chest gets bigger and the shoulders (probably) get wider. Do the sleeves? Or the lapels? Does the button stance move up or down? Do you change the position of the gorge on the lapels? Does the rear vent get longer? Do the collar ends change? Does the break alter?

On my jackets there are 24 separate measurements that define the shape as you move through the sizes. The only way to get it right is to prototype and keep prototyping until you’re happy. I’ve thrown a fair few away at considerable expense to Blake’s bank balance, Boyd Bowman’s patience and my nerves but if you know me you’ll be aware that I’m a stubborn, obsessive motherfucker and I won’t stop until it’s how I see it in my head. Thankfully, now it is.

I’m ready to start making.

I’m going to say it again because it feels so good.