Unfortunately, we’ve had to put the coat on hold for the foreseeable future.
As we only had one week to have the coat made while I was in New York and it was my first coat from Len’ (meaning a pattern had to be made from scratch and altered each time as we narrowed down the right fit) we ended up running out of time to have enough fittings to perfect the fit.
If you’ve already worked with a tailor previously, 3 fittings (sometimes even 2 fittings, if the pattern is exact) should be enough to ensure a well-fitted finished product. But with a tailor you haven’t worked with before, it’s not uncommon to require a couple of additional fittings as the finer details of fit are perfected.
By the time of the third fitting, there were still several changes needing to be made. Nothing large, but several small adjustments such as letting the coat out through the upper and lower back (it was still pulling in places), taking some extra cloth from the chest and cleaning up the arms. Whilst the changes were minor, it’s in getting these details right that is entire point of bespoke; a great fit. So Len’ wasn’t happy for me to take the coat until it was the way we both wanted it and I can appreciate that.
This wouldn’t matter if I lived locally or was in New York semi-regularly as we’d just keep making the necessary changes until the fit was right, but with me living on the other side of the world for now and with no current plans to be back in New York any time soon it meant that the only option was to place everything on hold and see what we can do when I’m back in New York in the future.
The best lesson in all of this, perhaps, is to allow plenty of time when visiting a tailor and to factor in extra time for additional fittings or unexpected delays. In this instance a week just wasn’t enough. The next time I have Len’ make a coat for me then a week would be plenty of time, as we already have a pattern which is close to finished, but in this instance we really needed a few more days.
It was also a shame as it meant the lining which Dugdale’s were kind enough to make specifically for me went to waste. Fortunately there was enough left over that we can comfortably line the suit which Leng Ngo is currently making for me.
In the end it was a real shame not to be able to leave New York with the coat, I’d really been looking forward to it and it was the major reason for me to come to New York (along with meeting Nino Corvato), but in an craft such as tailoring, when there are so many variables that come in to play with an individuals physique, sometimes these things happen and I know that Len’ was just as disappointed as I was that we weren’t able to finish it in time.
In the big scheme of things, as passionate as I am about bespoke tailoring and and the lifetime of craft that the very best tailors give of themselves, it’s only a coat and there’s always time to try again.