Aleks Cvetkovic explores our Gloucestershire workroom repairs department and discovers that it does more than patch up holes.
Should you be lucky enough to visit Turnbull & Asser’s Gloucester workroom, the first thing you’ll see on your tour is the repairs department; a humble, jam-packed space filled with busy craftspeople, whirring machines, half-drunk cups of tea and a 20-foot-long wall lined with unassuming plastic crates. These crates, odd though they may seem, contain what is to many Turnbull customers a priceless commodity – offcuts from their own bespoke shirts.
Turnbull keeps some extra cloth for every bespoke shirt that goes through its factory, ensuring that bespoke customers can have parts of their shirts replaced if disaster strikes and they snag a sleeve on a nail, or their morning coffee makes a break for freedom down their front.
Even so, this isn’t the department’s primary function. Apart from fixing nicks, tears and general misfortunes to customers’ shirts, the department’s main role is actually in ‘re-collaring’ and ‘re-cuffing’ Turnbull shirts, both well-worn ready-to-wear pieces and bespoke. Of course, the company’s shirts can be relied upon for years of wear, but they will inevitably age around the collar or cuffs in time, marking around the cuffs’ folds or the collar’s points. Weathering like this is the natural result of wearing a shirt that’s built to last, but thanks to this wall of crates, wearing your favourite shirt to death isn’t the end of the world.
Along with some extra cloth, the Gloucester workrooms also keep collar and cuff patterns for each bespoke customer, enabling one of the cutters in the repairs department to recut the shirt’s collar and cuffs just as they were when the shirt was brand new. Even if a customer’s extra fabric runs out due to multiple repairs, there’ll always be a supply of fine white cotton poplin at the factory to create contrasting collars and cuffs instead. Either way, once the new collar and cuffs are cut, the company’s seamstresses then re-line, sew and affix these pieces to the shirt before it receives a final press and leaves the department factory fresh – collars, cuffs and all. This promise to restore and maintain bespoke shirts over the years is a firm commitment to Turnbull’s customers, but also to the wider world. In extending the life of its bespoke shirts almost indefinitely, Turnbull practises what it preaches: making investment-worthy clothes to last for decades, minimising wastage and the disposability of its creations.
It’s a refreshing attitude from a luxury brand, particularly set against today’s retail landscape, where throwaway designer fashion so often reigns supreme. Instead, a bespoke shirt from Turnbull & Asser is the ultimate in slow style.
Order one, and the chances are it’ll outlast you – if you look after it properly. The company’s shirts really are timeless, and if investing in timeless menswear isn’t a smart move, I don’t know what is.
Please note that our re-collaring and cuffing service is available in-store only. Bring your Turnbull & Asser shirts to us and we will be happy to assist. For more information on this service, email email@example.com (UK) or firstname.lastname@example.org (US).