The advent of the first marketable sewing machine in 1850 by Isaac Singer began the American clothing revolution that many Europeans, at that time, looked down upon in disdain. It preempted the fashion industry, where everything was done by hand, into what would soon become known as ready to wear—or manufactured clothing. What bothered upper class Europeans so much was that now anyone, no matter what their station in life, could afford to dress in clothing that was “above their station.” The blurring of social dichotomy may have ruffled some feathers while preening others, but in this evolution something important was lost—craftsmanship.
Men today can still go and get a well-tailored suit, for even Savile Row in London with some of the most distinguished tailors still stand ready and available to take those orders. However, what about the women, what options do they have? You can find a custom dress maker here and there, and on Savile Row there are even a few tailors who can provide you with the service. Unfortunately, the quantity equal to the quality is not available for women.
If a woman were to walk into the showroom of a bespoke tailor to request a suit she can most likely expect one of two things to happen. Either the tailor will gently decline her request, or if he/she takes the request the product is not going to be at the same standard at a man’s suit. It does not matter how much training a tailor has, the obvious anatomical dissimilarities between the two sexes make this request impossible to comply with if they don’t have the proper training.
Enter Rory Duffy, a Fifth Generation, Savile Row trained, Award Winning Master Tailor, of both mens and women's wear. Most "bespoke tailors” are not called “masters” because they have “mastered” every aspect of suit making. They are more akin to “governors” or “brokers” to oversee other tailors. Most tailors are only adept at one or two aspects of the art because the training and “mastering” often takes years. Mr. Duffy, however, is a unique individual in that he has truly become a Master tailor through intense training, multiple apprenticeships with the best in the industry, and self-study. One does not win the Golden Shears at the remarkable age of 25, and not go on to accomplish great things.
Through his experience, Mr. Duffy saw the lack of options for bespoke women’s wear in the industry at large. Since he had already conquered men’s tailoring, women’s wear presented the next logical choice. Mr. Duffy spent two years studying women’s fashion, tailoring, and the female form. He wasn’t interested in working with the models we see sashaying down the runways or posed in magazines. He spoke with everyday women to gain an understanding of what their desires and concerns were in regards to not only their body shapes, but also the fashion that was available to them. His main concern as a woman’s tailor is for “women to feel beautiful and comfortable with their bodies.”
When a woman visits his Williamsburg, Brooklyn showroom he takes the time and dedication to ask important questions such as, “What do you not like about your body,” to “What are you looking for in a chosen garment?” The questions he asks gives him the insight and inspiration he needs to address the making of the piece on a holistic level. He can take your personal preferences for style, cut, and color and work with your ideology to make it into a reality. As he uses his own measuring techniques and devices that he designed specifically for addressing women’s diverse figures, he can precisely ascertain what seams, darts, and tucks need to be used to create the look that you want. You can even show him an image of a piece of clothing that appeals to you and he will take it as inspiration.
Mr. Duffy’s work is so sought after that he has reached production capacity, and fortunately has now partnered with Henry Bailey of Mayfair London. Duffy calls Henry Bailey “the tailor’s tailor of Savile row" and through their workshops, with their highly trained staff, he is able to serve more clients with the knowledge that his precise measurements and direction will be carried out fully.