History of Mens Tailors in Manchester

By Harris & Howard

History of Mens Tailors in Manchester

History of Mens Tailors in Manchester

By Harris & Howard

History of Mens Tailors in Manchester

Tailoring has a long, rich and interesting history, dating as far back as the early Middle Ages. We briefly explore the growth of tailoring both globally and here at home, how the industrial revolution helped to shape the history of mens tailors in Manchester, and how the Manchester tailors of today are working hard to create the Savile Row of the north.

What is Tailoring?

Tailoring is a complex process involving the designing, fitting, production and finishing of an item of clothing. As every person who attempts to construct a wearable garment very quickly comes to understand, the way in which it fits plays a critical role in the quality and look of the final product.

The word "tailor" has been included in the Oxford Dictionary since 1297, and it is derived from the Anglo-French word "taillur" and the Late Latin "taliare", both of which mean "to cut." Interestingly, the Latin "sartus" for "I patch" or "I mend" gave way to the Latin "sartor" for "tailor" and eventually informed the word "sartorial", which we use today to relate to tailoring and the quality of dress.

The Art of Tailoring

The process of tailoring can be traced back to the early Middle Ages. The main trade of many tailors during this period was armoury, and they were required to create padded garments to sit beneath chain mail, which would otherwise be incredibly uncomfortable to wear.

Until the 14th century, the majority of clothing was very simple, however, during the Renaissance, the concept of fashion emerged, and skilled tailors quickly found themselves in demand. Interestingly, the art of tailoring as a trade has been passed down in much the same way since bespoke tailors started appearing on high streets in towns, villages and cities, with most establishments owned and operated by a master tailor who would complete garments with their own signature style.

How the Industrial Revolution Shaped the History of Mens Tailors in Manchester and the UK

Manchester is widely regarded as the first industrial city, and its growth was largely driven by the rapid expansion of the cotton industry. Known as "Cottonopolis", the city of Manchester imported a billion tonnes of raw cotton each year and sat at the centre of brand new trade and manufacturing networks globally.

As a result, increasing numbers of multistorey mills appeared, filled with machinery designed to produce top quality, highly fashionable and extremely valuable cloth to sell to independent makers both at home and across the world.

As a leading light in the textiles trade, many areas of the UK became known for their high quality tailoring services. In the south of England, Bond Street, St. James Street and, of course, Savile Row in the West End of London have been home to some of the most elite tailors since the 19th century, many of whom still use traditional techniques when crafting bespoke items for their clients.

By the 1970s, there were already a plethora of tailors in Manchester, but that didn't stop fresh faces such as Michael Pendlebury from making their way onto the scene too. Many Manchester based tailors operated in tucked away upstairs units and kept busy despite having no signage outside telling customers they were there. So, it's clear to see why the city has such deep connections to the tailoring industry, and this goes a long way to illustrating why Manchester continues to sit at the forefront of modern tailoring today.

The Bespoke Suit Tailors of Today

Today, the term tailor is most often used to refer to a person who creates bespoke menswear, and the most proficient tailors are some of the most highly regarded members of the entire garment industry.

While Savile Row and other London locations remain at the heart of British tailoring, there are a number of Manchester based tailors who are eager to transform the city into the Savile Row of the north. With strong connections to the city and the determination to succeed, Manchester tailors are making names for themselves within the city and nurturing loyal client bases who appreciate the skill, experience and level of effort that must be put into every element of a top quality garment.

Like many before them, this new generation of tailors are not afraid to infuse their own sense of style into the creations they produce, and it is this signature style that customers are seeking out in ever increasing numbers. So, in addition to traditional techniques and prints, contemporary tailors don't shy away from experimentation and are constantly finding new ways to re-energise tailoring as a cool art form that can be appreciated by people of all generations.

Harris & Howard are one of the bespoke tailors at the forefront of this tailoring transformation, with a showroom in Alderley Edge and a team of clothiers able to offer in-person visits at the homes or offices of their clients.

Other popular reads

View all news »