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French Connection Limited

Q & A with David Newell: Newell Bespoke

The Soho based former DJ / producer turned designer, David Newell, knows a thing or two about fashion, style, getting the right fit from a suit... oh, and did I mention music?

Crumbs for Men were lucky to catch up with him in between his measuring tape, chalk and scissors to get a word of advice from the well dressed designer; we even managed to get you some tips (not that you CFM readers need it), with Valentines day being only around the corner.

How long have you been tailoring / designing?

Firstly I like to describe myself as a Sartorial Designer; I’ve been designing seriously since my Central St Martin days over 20 years ago!

Why bespoke and not off the rack?

I was introduced to the world of bespoke during my 10-year tenure at an established Savile Row tailors. Seeing the original patterns and garments made for the likes of King Edward VIII, Winston Churchill through to personalities like Charlie Chaplin and Michael Jackson, so you can’t help but be infatuated with the craftsmanship of bespoke tailoring.

Describe your suits in a sentence…

Sharp, stylish and comfortable practical sculptures!

Finish the sentence “If I weren’t tailoring, I’d be..."

A music producer/engineer I use to record number one hits at Jazzie B’s Soul II Soul Studios!!! I recorded with Desree, Jamelia, Mr Vegas and the big one; 'Sweet Like Chocolate' - Shanks and Bigfoot  which went double Platinum 1999! Pop trivia - we kicked Brittney Spears ‘Hit Me Baby’ off the top spot! An achievement I’m very proud of! Ha!

Describe the bespoke process…

The practical process of making a bespoke suit can be very technical and boring! However the emotional process is far more exciting and inspiring.

After extensively measuring the customer, I can begin to create a suit in the minds eye. Using the senses to feel the quality, the luxury and weight of the cloth. I compare, match and explore colours and patterns (un)’til I find the one that resonates and through context, imagine wearing the suit for the first time and how it would make you feel; this is where the soul of bespoke shines, through the passion of imagination.

Technically, we always achieve a very high standard of cut and finish. Therefore it’s about designing and styling the suit around the customer so they feel a sense of excitement and confidence to step just outside their comfort zone! During this procedure I get to know my customers well, which is crucial in creating the best suits spoken by them.

Who or what inspires your designs?

Each customer inspires my designs. They all come with a multitude of different requirements, fears and achievements. So I get great satisfaction when I meet and surpass their expectations… that’s inspiring!

What designer, if any, inspired you the most in the past?

I can’t possibly single one out as I was thrown into a vast pool of creative influence while at Central St Martin, however the following do stand out for their respective reasons:

Bauhaus as a creative movement, Mondrian as an artist, Charles Rennie Mackintosh as a craftsman, Lord Richard Rogers as an architect, Philip Stark as a product designer and Michiko Koshino as a fashion designer who I designed for after leaving Central St Martins.

What is the most important thing to bear in mind when buying a suit?

When buying an ‘off the peg’ suit, it’s important to make sure the shoulders and chest fits well above anything else. The waist and length can be altered easily, within reason, by a good alteration tailor, but you’ll have no chance if the chest and shoulders don’t fit!

Which brands / designers do you wear?

Mainly my own Newell Bespoke suits, shirts and eyewear, however I occasionally slip into one of my old Savile Row suits.

Finish this sentence “I’m not fully dressed without my…"

Pocket square.

Can you break down the rules of getting the right fitting suit for the following body issues:

• Square shoulders

If you have square shoulder like myself, unfortunately most ‘off the peg’ jackets wont fit properly across the back unless you have an alteration called ‘square back neck’ This is a tricky alteration and I’ve seen jackets ruined by poor alterations. Unless you know a Savile Row standard alteration tailor its best to get a bespoke one made, where the consultant will cut your pattern to accommodate the square shoulders.

• Short legs

Short leg can be made to look longer by wearing a shorter jacket and slim trousers. I find that shorter men like to buy longer jackets as they feel it makes them look taller…. It doesn’t work!! All it does is make your legs look shorter so please stop!

• No waist

I assume you mean no waist definition! You can create a great silhouette by cutting the hem of jacket with a slight flare and constructing a padded rope shoulder. This will give the illusion of a waist in comparison to the prominent shoulders and flared hem of jacket.

• Big stomach

This problem is one of my specialities as it’s the one I solve most often. I’ve been quoted ‘the best personal fitness trainer in the world’. The way I cut the jacket to disguise the stomach, miraculously sheds pounds off my customers weight without them lifting a finger… well only to sign the cheque!!!

Therefore I’m keeping this one a trade secret… sorry!

Have you got your Valentines Day outfit set?
Yes… a luxurious cream silk satin bed set!!! Ha! 

Top image courtesy of

Written by Christy Black

Pretty Green