An introduction to a video series documenting the making of a handcraft bespoke suit coat by NYC-based Savile Row-trained master tailor Rory Duffy. Shot and edited by Andrew Yamato. For more information, visit roryduffybespoke.com, or contact Andrew Yamato at dayamato AT gmail dot com.
[The following text is excerpted from a post accompanying this video's first appearance on the menswear blog "A Suitable Wardrobe" at asuitablewardrobe.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-making-of-coat.html]
I’d first heard of Duffy in 2009, when, as the first Irish apprentice of Henry Poole & Co, he won the coveted Golden Shears Award in London. Duffy has since completed his training as a master tailor and moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where he’s hung his shingle offering “handcraft” bespoke, which he describes as a pre-war Savile Row standard of construction, made wholly by himself on premises. The term “bespoke” has, of course, been hijacked to flog everything from investment portfolios to hardwood floors, and the antiquarian decor and heritage marketing so common among ateliers today too often masks the absence of a true bespoke process. For Duffy--often found sweeping up biscuit crumbs before greeting clients in his home workshop--the clothes have to be everything.
Duffy is young--thirty years old--in a trade where youth can be judged a liability, but his age belies the seven years of training he completed, and the four generations of tailors from which he descends. Most importantly for our purposes, Duffy’s youth makes him hungry to establish his name and credentials as the only Row-trained master tailor in New York City. To that end, he agreed to be the subject of a series of web videos I’m pleased to introduce here on A Suitable Wardrobe: “The Making of a Coat.” Each installment will follow one step in the construction of a sportcoat for your humble correspondent, effectively allowing Duffy to play an “open hand,” explaining in detail not just the hows of bespoke tailoring, but the whys.
Ultimately, while I’ve sought to shoot and edit these videos in an engaging manner (one will find plenty of the aforementioned hardcore cloth porn), it will be Duffy’s personality and expertise which hopefully makes them interesting to information-starved iGents. For a variety of reasons ranging from honest trade secrecy to the mildly fraudulent, the actual processes of clothing production are often closely guarded or gently obfuscated. Duffy has nothing to hide. On the contrary, having come up in an old-world apprenticeship, a big part of being a master tailor for him is teaching others; his own former apprentice at Poole, Emily Squires, went on to win this year’s Golden Shears Award, and since moving to New York, Duffy has been a lecturer at the Parsons School of Design. He is a natural raconteur, leavening his demonstrations with recollections of his own past masters in Ireland and on the Row, and whenever possible I have left these in the videos to give the viewer a sense of being, as I have been, a very keen fly on his wall as he works.
As a proud menswear dork, confident of our tribe’s mission to help cover a brutish society, I sincerely hope that these videos will account for countless lost hours on company clocks, endless rounds of more or less civil online discussion, and perhaps a few new commissions for Rory.