Bespoke head cutter, Paul Munday, has been with Meyer & Mortimer for over 20 years and is, alongside Brian Lewis, a Director of the business. In the first of a series of Meyer & Mortimer Q&As we open the door on Savile Row bespoke tailoring and find out more about the people here and what makes them tick.
How did you get into bespoke tailoring?
I couldn’t get into acting [laughs]. Actually, my mum was getting annoyed with me always asking her to take my school trousers in and make them skinny so I started doing them myself. It followed on from there.
Which tailor did you work for first?
I was on a YTS [Youth Training Scheme] so was taken on by a local tailor in Kingston and stayed there for about 15 months until I heard about a job at Gieves & Hawkes. I went down, had a chat with them and got the job.
So how long have you been in the business?
[Totting up the years and to Paul’s surprise] 30 years!
What are you doing today?
Being a smaller business [without those dedicated departments] means my day is varied. Today I've done the banking, drafted some patterns*; marked up* and dealt with customers who've come to the shop.
Who or what is your or has been your inspiration?
Edward Sexton and Malcolm Plews. Both made a strong impression on me in the early years, and still do. Malcolm has a board [work-area] here at M&M now, and uses the shop to see his customers. Their knowledge and experience are incredible and I love the way they cut.
Panama hats & lapsang souchong
What was your very first suit?
[Thinks] It was two hand-me-down Moss Bros double-breasted suit with notch lapels. One was blue, the other grey stripe. They were very old fashioned.
What is your favourite item of clothing?
My Panama hat which was hand-woven in Ecuador. The thing is I never wear it as I don’t want to get it dirty, so much so I don’t want to touch it even after reading the paper in case any print from my hands gets on it – so it is my most favourite unworn piece of clothing.
What has been the most strange customer request?
Cutting and making a jacket to conceal the bulkiness of two guns in their gun holster belts. I should add this was for – one time Reservoir Dog – Michael Madsen for a part he was playing in a film.
As we’re talking about films, who would play you (alive or dead) in the motion picture: Meyer & Mortimer?
That’s a good question; I don’t know … [Bob Hoskins is suggested] Ha, ha, yes that’s it, Bob Hoskins for sure.
And one final film question for you: your favourite film?
The original Ealing Studios, Lady Killers with Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers … It’s brilliant and quite dark for its time. A great, classic movie.
Paul's new friend, Jeff Lynne
What’s on your car stereo at the moment?
I love ELO and got to see Jeff Lynne at The O2 recently; he was absolutely amazing! I love Led Zeppelin too but my wife doesn’t like me playing them as I’m told I tend to drive faster when they’re on. Also like singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot whose most famous song is If You Could Read My Mind and Roy Orbison; that voice!
That has to be a rack of lamb; medium rare.
Tea or coffee Paul?
Tea actually. I know we drink a lot of coffee here (M&M has a branded coffee pod unit) but I love a good Lapsang souchong tea from Fortnum &Mason made in my Brown Betty teapot. You get a lovely smoky flavour from the leaves.
What’s the future hold for Savile Row and bespoke tailoring?
They’ll always be a need for despite the industry shrinking.
Do you think that shrinkage has stopped or is there more to go?
No, I think it’s plateaued so who you see now – in the number of people and houses providing bespoke tailoring – will be around for a while.
It is of course about the craftsmanship and the cloth but a big part for our customers is the customer service. A lot of our customers are time poor so appreciate when we say we’re going to get it done, it gets done – whether that’s here in London or overseas in New York, Paris or the Far-East. Our customer expectations and we meet them daily but our aim – always – is to exceed them.
*Pattern Drafting: After measuring a customer, those measurements are used to create a paper pattern which will become the template for what is made.
**Marking Up: The process of ripping down a garment after the first fitting to re-cut and give back to the tailor (aka maker) for the next fitting.
Editor's Note: Blog updated June 2016 to include Paul's love of ELO.