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article imageA chat with Mr. Mark Powell, London's top bespoke tailor Special

By Adrian Peel     Feb 26, 2016 in Lifestyle
London - Digital Journal meets one of Britain's best-dressed men, whose neo-Edwardian style has helped make him one of the most sought after clothiers in the world of high-quality fashion.
David Bowie, George Clooney, Martin Freeman, Naomi Campbell and Ronnie Kray. What do they all have in common? They've all had their appearance enhanced by renowned clothing designer Mark Powell.
As well as dressing the rich, famous, not-so-famous and infamous, the East End boy, whose business is based in the heart of Soho, has also put on exhibitions, produced successful clothing lines for retail chains and been in charge of costume on a number of films including Gangster No. 1 and Absolute Beginners.
"Today I've just had a meeting about doing a commercial, a collaboration with some people, so it's been quite an interesting morning," says the 55 year old, filling me in on his recent activities. "That's gonna be happening over the next couple of weeks... I've also been fitting clients, doing my normal stuff."
When asked about the latest trends in elegant menswear, Mr. Powell's answer reveals why so many are drawn to his unique innovations: "Well Mark Powell just does what he does; I don't think we follow anybody else...
"Basically, it's laughable at the moment how everybody seems to be doing the things I've been doing for the last 30-odd years, so really what I do is very much my own thing and I don't really follow what other people do.
"At the moment, everything - particularly in a lot of the modern tailoring - looks very generic, generally. The great thing is with my stuff it's still got a strong individual identity, which is all down to my personal take on how I design and tailor stuff, you know?"
I put it to the down to earth Londoner that it must be an exciting time to be a tailor, as one keeps hearing how large numbers of men are once again actively seeking out bespoke suits. "Well it's an interesting time because there is definitely a demand and a lot of younger guys are now really getting into it, that's for sure," he agrees.
"It is a good time to be doing it, but equally it is a dying craft as well. I do two or three bespoke suits a week and back in the day, I used to do eight or nine bespoke suits a week. But now people want ready-to-wear, they want made-to-measure.
"One thing is obviously the price point and the second thing is of course with a lot of the ready-to-wear, a couple of little tweaks and you've got a great looking suit. If the guy's of a normal shape and size, you can adapt it to the Mark Powell style or look."
Mulling over what can be done to get more young people interested in learning the craft, Powell, who started designing around the age of 12 and opened his first shop in 1985, remarks, "It's interesting because there's been a massive increase in the last few years of young kids that want to be tailors.
"The problem is tailoring is an amazing skill and craft, but the behind-the-scenes level of what it's all about is very different to what people think it is. It's not as glamourous as people think; it's hard physical work. I've always worked with a good team, but it's a very difficult thing."
As mentioned previously, many figures from the world of showbusiness have worn Mark Powell suits in the past but, despite that, the client people seem to want to talk about most is gangland figure Ronnie Kray, one half of the notorious Kray Twins who terrorised London in the 1960s.
"Yeah, I've done a lot of high profile people and it was interesting to meet Ronnie Kray in Broadmoor and make a suit for him... I was 28 at the time and being an East End guy myself I guess there was a connection there."
"We've modernised the business," explains Powell, revealing how he manages to keep up with an ever-changing world. "We've built up our social media and we sell online. We celebrate and embrace change and fortunately it's paying off and working really well for us."
A Mark Powell two-piece bespoke suit starts at £3,300. A three-piece starts at £3,800.
For more information, visit the official Mark Powell website or Facebook page.
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