You Get What You Pay For


NB: Yardsticks can hurt

Recently I have had a huge amount of people asking my opinion about various tailoring companies, offering what appear to be very good deals on made-to-measure, and even “bespoke”.

I hope people are not too disappointed with my usual reply, which is I really have no more idea of the product than they do.

This is because, as I said earlier, I really only know the abilities of people closest to me i.e. on Savile Row. Many of the tailors I’m asked about are in Hong Kong or elsewhere abroad. All I can do is recommend you look out for what I’ve told you already, and best of luck.

When I was 19 and an apprentice at Redmayne, a good friend of mine who I worked with bounced into the workroom one Monday morning with an advertisment from one of the Sunday papers. At that age we were all sports-crazy and also convinced that we led tough and exciting lives. So when we saw what appeared to be a rugged, black waterproof diving watch for £1.99 + 50p for postage and handling, we went wild with excitement. To have a watch that looked as good as James Bond’s, for about £5.00 in today’s money, seemed like the deal of a lifetime.

My teenage colleagues scrutinised the advert. It was totally clear; it was definitely a “diver’s style” watch with dual display. Press the button and it even showed the date. It also had an action-black-moulded-plastic wriststrap, even better to resist the salt water on all those deep sea dives we would doubtlessly be taking.

Our excitement somehow bubbled through to our elders, who also got excited at the thought of cheap presents for their husbands and their young nephews’ sixteenth birthdays. In the end the apprentices ordered, as did the cutters, trouser makers and the finishers. Even the office secretary had to have a piece of the action. Voila, seven “diver’s style” watches please, as quick as you can. And things got even better, because as we had ordered more than five, we only had to pay the postage for one. Gosh, why can’t all Mondays be as good as this?

After 28 days of mounting excitement the watches finally arrived, Hurray! You see, it wasn’t a con after all, they delivered as promised etc.

What was so great about this watch was that it had a dual display, very cool, digital and analogue. However, the hands only told the correct time twice a day.

Why, was the mechanism faulty? No, it was just that the hands wouldn’t turn. Oh, so the hands were faulty? Wrong again, the hands were just “painted” on. With real paint. The digital bits worked fine, but it was still so thin and cheap, I think you could’ve found heavier tatoos to wear if you’d wanted.

It had looked the part, and technically it was a “divers’ style”. But the key word in this company’s marketing was “style”. They hadn’t lied to us per se, they just cleverly compared it visually to the product that we actually wanted to own. Not a “diver’s style” watch, but a real “diver’s watch”. Big difference.

After my pal and I had been beaten with various yardsticks, scalded with irons and stabbed with needles by our hapless colleagues, we all laughed and realized how dopey we’d all been.

The moral of the story is that you get what you pay for. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. I know there are companies who offer “bespoke” for under £300.00. I’m sorry, but to offer a product for a for a tenth of the competition? Well, it’s your decision, but don’t be surprised if you find some of the buttons have been painted on!

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About Thomas Mahon

Thomas Mahon is one of the most experienced tailors on Savile Row with a list of clients including royalty, celebrities and business icons. Tom has almost thirty years experience of hand tailoring in Savile Row including five years at Savile Row’s most famous and respected tailor, Anderson & Sheppard. His clients experience the traditions and expertise of the finest bespoke tailoring available today using a soft and unstructured style typical of Anderson & Sheppard. His workshop is based at Warwick Hall in Cumbria and also meets clients at his office in London, Tom also makes regular trips to visit his growing international client base in Europe, the USA and further afield. When not creating beautiful bespoke suits, travelling to see clients or sharing his sartorial advice with his internet followers, Tom enjoys teaching sailing and is the boats officer for the Sea Cadet Corps near his Cumbria home. For the full story visit
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