Behind a Bespoke Suit: A Man of the Cloth

Contrary to what many people think, the person who measures you for a bespoke suit probably won't have much to do with the actual construction of it. They will cut it and over see each stage but from the moment you pick your cloth to when you walk away with the finished garments, there could be up to 9 people working on the actual sewing, pressing and finishing. 

One of these people is Jyh Cheong, a textiles consultant at W. Bill. 

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I started working in the industry in 1979/80. I studied fashion design at what was then the Central School of Art and Design, now Central St Martin's. I was offered a place to do Fine Art at Parson's School of Design but I turned it down to stay in London. I had my own label for a while which was great, I loved the creativity that came with that. 

The best part of my job is working with the costume departments for film and theatre companies. I get to use my creative side, helping them to source the right materials. It is rewarding to see something I've suggested used on screen. I like working with the tailors but the choice is all down to the customer so I have a bit less input. 

One of the things that has changed over the course of my career is the weight and quality of the cloth. British mills are famous for their wools. I work with clients from all over the world, including fashion houses in Europe and Japan who look to the UK for the best quality cloth. The materials have become lighter to fit in with a modern lifestyle, no one needs a 20oz suit these days. Ironically, this means when you are trying to find something for a period drama you have to come up with ways to make it appear heavier and coarser. 

In another life I might have been a Structural and Technical Engineer. This is what I first qualified in but it wasn't where my heart lay.