Robb Recommends: Made-to-Measure At Mr. Start, Shoreditch

Kit Blake’s founder on an exemplary tailoring experience in the Square Mile.

I have been aware of Mr. Start for some years and, from the brand’s reputation, was aware that they offered one of the better slim-fitting suits. So many brands get them wrong and just make a classic fitting suit a bit smaller. At Mr Start, all details are reduced accordingly from vent length to pocket flap width, and although they are form-fitting, they are not tight, skimpy or uncomfortable.

The eponymous Philip Start is something of a menswear legend and always captures the zeitgeist in contemporary taste. His designs for Woodhouse in the 1980s made a great impression on my younger self and I was a proud owner of a pair of his pleated, high-waisted trousers lightweight wool trousers that I wore with braces (also from Woodhouse).

So it was mildly embarrassing that I had not visited his Rivington Street emporium until recently. As I expected, the store was beautifully merchandised with some well thought out tailoring and accessories. The “blazer suits” – whereby the jacket and trousers can be worn as separates – is a clever idea, and he really understands the concept of cocktail dress for men.

But what really caught my eye was the Leonard suit. It is what Philip calls his “West End suit” and is a little more generous in its proportions than the usual output. The wider lapel is perfectly balanced with a lower gorge and there is a subtle yet attractive curve in the top collar.

This was the perfect starting point for my made-to-measure project. Having a suit made at Mr. Start is refreshingly different to experiences with many tailors; a greater emphasis is placed on style and they are happy to chat through any ideas you may have. Starting with the one-button model, we decided to add a little more fullness to the sleevehead, a deep centre vent and a four-button cuff. I selected a charcoal-grey fresco wool from their house collection as I wanted a suit with gravitas and a subtle sophistication.

The trousers are flat-fronted and, in keeping with the Mr. Start aesthetic, have no extension waistband or unnecessary details. The side-adjusters are regarded as decorative and only the slightest pull will ensure a good fit. I am pleased to report that Mr. Start are a fan of braces and all trousers will have buttons sewn in the waistband as standard.

The first fitting (presented seven weeks later) was almost perfect and whilst style is paramount, it was evident that my measurements and less-than-perfect posture had been duly noted. I usually select plain grey linings in my tailoring but I was encouraged to enhance this with a subtle sky blue piping detail: the result was clean and pleasing to the eye.

The only adjustment was to shorten the front of the trousers to create a stronger slant to heel with only minimal break at the front. I am delighted with the result. The suit is super clean with no fuss and is simultaneously anonymous and eye-catching. Worn with a pale shirt and dark tie, it is the perfect suit for formal business but can equally be worn with a fine gauge knit and suede chukka boots.

As well as an elegant suit, I now have my own template for future orders and I am considering a tweed sports jacket, maybe with slanting flapped pockets or a dinner suit in midnight blue. With the current philosophy of “consuming less but buying better” it is worth considering made-to-measure for your tailoring needs and if you are looking for a design-led modern tailor, Mr. Start is a good place to, uhm, start.

40 Rivington St, Shoreditch, London EC2A 3LX (020 7729 6272/







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