Interview with David Brooke, Managing Director of luxury tailor Mathieson & Brooke Tailors Ltd. Mathieson & Brooke Tailors Ltd design contemporary made to measure garments including suits, shirts, overcoats and golf trousers. They offer a ‘by appointment’ service in their client’s offices or homes as well as a shop appointment service in his home town of Harpenden in Hertfordshire. You can find out more about Mathieson & Brooke Tailors Ltd and their service by visiting www.mandbt.co.uk
Q. So David does a suit empower a man?
“What you wear has an external and internal impact that most men either choose to ignore or quite simply aren’t aware of! I have run Mathieson & Brooke Tailors Ltd for over 10 years and have seen thousands of clients put on a made to measure suit for the first time. The change in their posture and swagger, usually without even being conscious of it, is impossible to ignore. It quite simply isn’t just a suit….it’s much more. It can make you feel more confident, it can make others perceive you as more successful and yes, attractive.
In my experience sportsmen get this behaviour shift more than any other group. They understand that to perform at your best your have to get many small things right which is why when Men Style Fashion approached me to design a suit for Greg Minnaar I jumped at the chance, and for more than one reason. “
Q. What do you mean ‘more than one reason’?
“I knew that Greg would get the concept that what you wear can make you perform better but there were a couple of other ideas I had been working on that I wanted him to embrace. The first was the idea of a suit that could be worn whilst performing extreme stunts on a bike and the second was developing a bespoke lining specifically for him!
Like any project we had to work to a tight timeline which meant that we would have to carry out the fitting on skype. Not ideal, but with Greg in South Africa and me in London I began to talk Greg through my ideas via web cam. To be fair he took it very well….we both thought the idea was a little nuts but hey, fortune favours the brave”.
Q. So how did the fitting go?!
“With the help of Greg’s sister I talked them through how to take the measurements from Greg. I also asked to see jackets and trousers on Greg so that I could get an idea of how his posture affected the drape. I could see that his shoulders were high but apart from that there were no major challenges. I could take Greg through the styles using our style file and also discussed areas that may need to be stronger or be under particular strain when performing stunts! “
Q. What made you choose the style that you did?
“I wanted something that was elegant with shades of bond for the action shots, but I also wanted Greg Minnaar to be able to wear the jacket as a separate with jeans. I’d been a fan of the dark blue dinner jackets with shawl collars for some time and had even made similar style jackets to be worn with jeans so it was the obvious starting point for me. I then got carried away and decided to make a scoop waistcoat and a shirt as well!
The jacket itself is 1 button with a narrow shawl collar. I chose side vents so that the lining would be visible when he was doing his stunts…..it proved to be the right choice. The trousers are flat fronted with side adjusters.”
Q. So what cloth did you choose and how does it differ from your normal suit?
“The idea of a suit that could be worn whilst cycling wasn’t a new one for me. The cycling trend has been gathering momentum in London for some time and a number of tailors had produced so called ‘commuter suits’ as publicity stunts. This type of publicity has never been my style. I have always believed that design should be wearable, I want the majority of my clients to look at my garments and think ‘I can wear that’.
I had therefore been researching cloths for some time and had even chosen a few possible options. It was from this shortlist that I selected Greg’s cloth, a wool mix that contained a small amount elastic giving it considerably more stretch than 100% wool. It was also light in weight (270grms) making it cool to wear and easier for the heat to escape. The shirt was constructed from a stretch cotton. I still haven’t found a stretch cotton that I am 100% happy with as they tend to crease quite a lot, but this gave me a good opportunity to test the sample.”
Gracie Opulanza styled by Zoe Della Rocca
Q. Tell us about the amazing bespoke lining?
“ I had only made a few bespoke linings before as a prototypes. This had taught me that two things have to be right in order to make an outstanding bespoke lining. First the cloth used has to work inside a suit and secondly the printing process has to be outstanding. My prototypes from different printers had varying degrees of success. Some cloths were too heavy, others caused the print to bleed, and a few were just too fragile.
The Greg Minnaar project enabled me to apply all these learnings to a working sample and thank fully it worked perfectly. The idea to have the World Champion rainbow stripe was Greg’s and creates a really obvious synergy between the suit and his career. The photos were my idea and I must admit I was a little nervous about the ones that I had chosen without Greg knowing. There was one in particular of Greg hugging a lady that I thought really showed the intensities of emotion involved when winning a downhill event. Little did I know that this was Greg’s mum, a fact that I only found out when Greg opened the suit for the first time.”
Q. So where do you go from here?
Well we definitely want to work on more projects with Greg Minnaar and Men Style Fashion. We are involved in some really exciting projects and charity events and having seen Greg working the camera think he could be the perfect ambassador!
With regards to the bespoke linings I now plan to offer this service to all of my clients and really believe that it makes the suit even more personal. The design possibilities are endless!
Photography By Gareth Gregg
David Brooke Director
Mathieson & Brooke Tailors Ltd, and Garmtec Ltd
Tel: 0800 043 9056
Mob: 07962 141932