Steve Phythian joined Meyer & Mortimer recently as apprentice cutter so we thought we would take the opportunity to find out more about him and officially introduce him to our dedicated reader.
How did you get did you get into tailoring?
I was originally working as a locksmith in Walthamstow when my father, who was working as a cutter for tailors in Spitalfields, let me know there was an opening there. I’d been looking for a different trade and coming from a long line of tailors I thought yes, and went for it.
How long is the line?
I am the fourth generation to continue the trade. My father trained at Gieves & Hawkes many years ago and my grandfather worked at a business called Blades where Ede & Ravenscroft is now at the end of Savile Row on Burlington Gardens.
Did you feel any pressure from the family to take up bespoke tailoring?
Not really. My father has always said do a job that makes you happy.
Despite that, do you think he was proud that you got into tailoring?
Yes, I believe he was secretly pleased.
Tailors of old. Anonymous 1790
So you worked with your father?
Yes, I did. I didn’t learn about cutting straight away. I started trimming*, seeing customers, a bit of admin but then very slowly got into the cutting side. I’m more interested in cutting than making truth-be-known. I can sew, but I prefer the creative side of bespoke tailoring.
*Trimming: collecting the other components that make up the suit: linings, fastenings, canvas and other materials, and adding them to the customer's choice of cloth ready to be made.
Is your father still in the business?
He is. He works for a tailor over in Holborn.
How long have you been in tailoring?
I spent six years working with my father but then left the industry to set up a cleaning business. I missed it a lot so started making enquiries, and Meyer & Mortimer was one of those who called me back.
You've been a few weeks now Steve, how are you finding it?
It’s good. After working alone, it’s nice being back working with a team of people. I love the showroom too. It’s like going back in time. It's very different to most of the shops on Savile Row which tend to be bright and modern. The Meyer & Mortimer showroom has the feel of an old gentleman’s club.
The Meyer & Mortimer showroom on Sackville St around the corner from Savile Row
So what have directors Paul Munday and Brian Lewis got you doing in your first few weeks?
Marking up jobs, cutting them out; trimming.
Any plans to go overseas at all?
I believe there is a plan to go overseas in the new year with Paul. Not sure where yet.
A regular question in our Q&As is where did you get your first suit from; would that be one of your father’s?
It was one of dad’s. It was a single-breasted navy blazer with mother-of pearl buttons. I think he must made that in the late 90s.
Illustrating that an apprentice cutter must always be on his toes Director Brian Lewis returns the showroom and interjects our Q&A with:
Brian: Good morning, good morning, this is our new man. He’s a Buddy Holly fan as well. When you’ve finished this could you order 3.50 of the cloth and two metres of the lining for JL.
Steve: Yes Brian, I’ll get that on the go.
Jason: I am recording this Brian, so this will go in the Q&A [laughter ensues].
What do you do when you’re not at work?
Spend time with the family. I live with my fiancée, and I have a step daughter who is 10, and my daughter is 5. We have a few days out and mainly like to visit National Trust sites.
National Trust, The Three Tenors & Metallica
What is your favourite film?
I am partial to a horror film.
That is interesting. We haven’t had a horror film fan at MM before. Is there a standout film for you?
I saw What Lies Beneath recently and that is a cracking film, but the original Evil Dead is classic.
What about music?
I have a very eclectic taste. I’ve CDs ranging from The Three Tenors up to Metallica.
A lot of the cutters here love their food and consider themselves to be good cooks. Do you enjoy your food?
I do love my food.
Can you cook good food?
Well, I’ve just started doing little bits. I’m by no means fantastic. I prefer meals that I can prepare quickly.
Bacon Rolls. Not to be confused with its Northern version
Any favourite dishes, is there a gift that keeps on giving?
Anything with bacon in.
Anything with bacon? [laughs]
Yes, I do love it.
Good man. Tea or coffee?
I’m a coffee man for sure. I also have my two-litre water bottle that I get through every day.
Very good Steve. Returning to bespoke tailoring for our final question: What do you think the future holds for Savile Row tailoring?
I think it’ll be perfectly fine as there will always be a demand for true bespoke tailoring, I really don’t think the industry has anything to be worried about. As long as there’s the need, we will not disappear.
Well Steve, that’s it. Thank you for your time and we’ll let you get on with ordering that cloth and lining.
[Laughs] Thank you.