Q&A: Bespoke Shirtmaker Sean O'Flynn

Sean O’Flynn’s bespoke shirt-making business turned 10 this week (1 July) so we thought it would be a great idea to include him in our latest instalment of Q&As and interview Sean and share with you his beginnings, his loves and his thoughts on Savile Row.

How did you get into tailoring & where did you start?

I’d always loved clothes and fashion and mentioned this to my careers officer at school who lined up three interviews for me on Savile Row. I got a job at Huntsman and stayed there for three years.

And when did you make the decision to concentrate on shirt-making?

Was the only position available so more circumstance than real planning.

How long have you been in the shirtmaking business?

38 years.

What you got to do today?

Draft and cut a pattern for a sample shirt for a new customer. Unlike bespoke tailoring where a customer can expect two or three fittings, in shirt-making we take the measurements and then completely make the shirt. It's what we call a straight finish in the trade. To compensate for this I always, for the first shirt, make a sample in white [which is paid for]. I’ll ask the customer to wash and wear for two weeks, then come back to see me wearing the shirt. I get to see how the shirt fits. More often than not, everything is fine. If though, I feel a change needs to be made, I make a note, change the customer's pattern. We are then free to look at other materials and different colours. 

Sean's team of makers: Katie, John, Lauren, Sean, Isabel, Peter & Paloma

Your biggest inspiration?

My family. The practicality to meet their needs and watch them grow and attain their aspirations – over the years – while being there to help them overcome challenges.


The style and music of David Bowie.

Most strange customer request?

A bespoke pirate shirt for a party.

Where did you get your first suit from and your first ‘proper’ shirt?

A midnight navy creped wool two-piece from Woodhouse and a Ben Sherman shirt with a fancy stripe.

Are there any fashion designers you admire?

Coco Chanel.

Sean measuring a customer for a bespoke shirt

Who would play you in the movie Sean O’Flynn: The Shirt Maker?

Jason Statham*

Your favourite item of clothing?

A navy utility shirt I made recently. It’s a jacket/shirt hybrid with a heavy 120-gram cotton twill.

What book are you currently reading?

After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman followed by The Trial by Franz Kafka.

A light summer read then Sean. You’re favourite album?

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust by Bowie closely followed by The Stone’s, Sticky Fingers.

David Bowie

Which band would you be in to perform your rooftop gig on Savile Row?

The Stones.

Greatest sporting or gig moment?

Junior Walker and the All-Stars at The Venue, London around 1980 I think.

What do you think the biggest misconceptions of Savile Row are?

Elitist but that’s changed. It’s become more, not mainstream, but more accessible.

Tea or coffee?

Coffee, double macchiato.

What do you think the future holds for Savile Row and bespoke tailoring?

Not very much unless Westminster Council truly addresses the problems of affordable workplaces in the west end for genuine artisans, not baristas.

Thank you, Sean.

*Every June Sean will give himself a number 4 haircut with his clippers. It is apparently to do with the heat. It does, however, make the jump between Jason playing Sean that little bit closer.

Please visit the Sean O'Flynn website.