Staffordshire-based Adrian Barrows - known as the Tweeting Tailor - aims to be first out of the blocks in the rush for VIP clients at London 2012. Richard McComb reports.
He makes some of the finest – and nattiest – suits for his high-end clientele so Adrian Barrows took matters in his stride when he was offered an Olympic challenge.
How would he fancy making bespoke outfits for some of the richest men on the planet during the 2012 London Games?
Needless to say, Barrows, who is based near Lichfield, Staffordshire, didn’t take long to accept the commission and become a member of an elite squad of independent businesses setting their sights on their own Olympic gold.
Barrows, who is known as the Tweeting Tailor because of his conspicuous presence on the social networking site, will be working alongside MGMT Concierge, a luxury Mr Fix-It consultancy, to provide round the clock cover for the tailoring needs of superyacht owners and their guests.
Some of the grandest privately-owned craft in the world will sail down the Thames and converge on London for the most sought after berths during the Games and Barrows will be on hand with his tape measure, fabric books and a killer eye for design and detail.
The 33-year-old self-taught tailor, whose uncle Geoff Walker was a chief cutter for Aquascutum and Daks in the 1960s and 70s, was approached by MGMT’s director Mark Upton, who advises the new buyers of superyachts and industry professionals. Upton had the idea of setting up a high-end specialist concierge service during the Olympics, including lavish hospitality, private helicopters and jets, VIP ticketing and restaurant, club and red-carpet planning.
Upton also wanted someone who could provide individual luxury English tailoring and Barrows was his choice. The tailor will be on standby throughout the Games to cater to the sartorial requests of the super rich.
Barrows, a co-founder of Birmingham’s Clements & Church, went it alone in August 2011 and regularly travels widely for work.
“This week, I have been to Birmingham, London, Manchester, Huddersfield, Liverpool, Powys, Shrewsbury and Henley-in-Arden in Warwickshire,” says Barrows, who is wearing one of his own powder-blue corduroy jackets.
His company, The Bespoke Tailor, is probably better known by Barrows’ social media handle – the Tweeting Tailor. It is solely through Twitter, Facebook and word of mouth that the business has grown and Barrows says he has been “gobsmacked” by the way the business has taken off.
With an array of 5,000 cloths at his disposal, including those from traditional manufacturers Scabal, Brook Taverner and J & J Minnis (who supply Balmoral tweed to the Royal Household), Barrows’s suits start from £800.
The rates may seem expensive by off-the-peg standards but for high quality, bespoke work they are viewed very favourably, particularly among clients in London and the City, where there is a ready market for modern twists on classic tailoring.
Barrows says: “I focus on one-to-one service and I understand that time is money, so I do fittings either at clients’ homes or at their work. I did a fitting on Monday in a local pub. I’ve even done a fitting before sunrise by the side of a road to suit a client.”
Barrows says his style of English tailoring creates a slimming effect.
He speaks of spending time getting the jacket shoulder-line correct and he tends to cut high under the arm to accentuate the client’s silhouette.
Barrows says: “My selection of cloths is second to none. This is a British product and my clients enjoy that. British cloth is the best in the world. If we use British companies for manufacturing we will get out of this recession. People like that attitude.”
His garment include suits, jackets, trousers, waistcoats, shirts and overcoats, all to his exacting designs and made by a small network of highly skilled professionals.
“There is a lot of work out there but you have to go out and find it,” says Barrows. “The clients I have don’t come from luck. They come from working very hard and from me being good at what I do.”
The demand for bespoke tailoring among Barrow’s footballer clientele, not just in the West Midlands but nationally, is booming.
“The football industry has exploded for me,” he says. “Because I was so busy I didn’t watch a whole game during Euro 2012. The only half game I saw was Ireland against Croatia and I had four customers on the pitch.
“Sportsmen enjoy what I do. They enjoy the designer aspect.
“They enjoy the fact I go to them. They enjoy the finer things in life.”
Barrows has clients who order suits costing as much as £3,500 due to the quality of the cloths. One client ordered three at the same time. But the tailor says he wouldn’t, and couldn’t, let the quality level dip, regardless of the sale price.
“Whether you earn £1 million or £100 a week, the standard of tailoring will not differ,” says Barrows. “I am from Walsall originally, so £800 is a lot of money to me. But it is all relative.
“I am really lucky in what I do. I work stupid hours but I don’t class it as work as I enjoy it so much.
“This week since Sunday [we meet on a Friday], I’m nearly up to 100 hours. I have had about three hours sleep a night. It’s the adrenaline.”
With all those huge yachts sailing into London, he will need adrenaline by the bucketload. Let the tailoring commence.