Meet Mr Mike Deans, Head Cutter at Oliver Brown. A true bespoke aficionado, Mike heads our bespoke department, running the bespoke team at our Lower Sloane Street Store. We sat down with Mike to discover more about his passion for men's tailoring, his style philosophy the bespoke process, and what makes it truly special.
Mike began his training in tailoring at Gieves & Hawkes on Savile Row. “It was an incredible place to train, with many talented tailors and a creative cutting team.” His love of tailoring and passion for creativity come to the forefront in his role as head cutter at Oliver Brown. “Tailoring has always been a great tool for elevating a look and playing around with a person’s proportions, if done well.” His innate appreciation for the art of bespoke, allows him to ensure every client receives a unique and personal experience when creating one off pieces. “In my day-to-day job, it’s the opportunity to connect with people that gives me the most satisfaction. The bond between cutter and customer is one of trust, so we both need to understand each other to get the best out of the process.”
1. When did you become interested in men's tailoring?
Music was my own personal conduit to menswear and style. To me music and style have always been intrinsically linked and a source of inspiration from an early age.
The interest in tailoring came much later but was born out of that. I was very into the modernist style and in exploration of that I found the mid-century Ivy League influences of sports jackets, oxford button down shirts and Bass Weejun loafers. Tailoring from half a century ago, that bizarrely still retained a modernity and relevancy. In the UK it doesn’t hold the same associations and we are able to play with it in a more fluid way.
After a few years in menswear retail, I was lucky enough to get a position as front of house sales on Savile Row and through the journey of trying to acquire more knowledge for the role, I found a love for pattern cutting and eventually the apprenticeship at Gieves & Hawkes.
2. Can you explain the bespoke process?
The process is one of labour, love and patience, with a bespoke two-piece suit taking approximately 80-100 hours to complete and passing through the hands of six skilled crafts people. For a new customer, this means the process takes around twelve weeks to complete, as we get to know you, your body and refine your pattern.
We would see you for the initial consultation to select the cloth and style details before getting you in for your first fitting around four weeks later. Over the course of the process, we would see you for approximately three fittings, with each fitting allowing us to refine and finesse the fit and proportions.
After Cutter and Customer are happy, we will finish the garment and you can take away your creation. Future commissions in the same style will be much quicker, as we update the pattern between each fitting.
3. What makes the bespoke experience so special?
The bespoke experience Is about stepping away from the stress and trappings of everyday life, to immerse yourself in the creation of something made solely for you.
We want to put you in the seat of being the designer of your own garment, we are here to guide and facilitate that as needed. We continue this conversation through all fitting stages, perfecting comfort and sculpting the desired silhouette.
4. How does bespoke differ from Made-To-Measure?
Bespoke is a craft-based approach, focussing on superb fit and the refining of proportions. We hand draft the pattern using time honoured skills, before handmaking the garment at our Lower Sloane St workshop by our Savile Row trained team. You will have roughly three fittings over the course of 12 weeks. It is as much about the immersive experience as it is about the finished garment.
Made-to-measure is a production-based approach offering some customisation and a certain level of convenience. We would fit you in one of our stock models where we will decide what adjustments are needed to the measurements. The garment will be made in our Ready-to-wear production workshop and ready collect approximately 8 weeks later. After a quick fitting and any necessary small adjustments, you will be able to take your garment away with you. A great option if you are of irregular proportions or would simply like to choose a cloth or style not available in our RTW collection.
5. What are the key factors you consider when designing a bespoke piece for a customer?
I think the best skill when approaching design for an individual is to listen; trust and understanding are essential to the process. The very act of listening to someone’s practical needs, alongside their wants and desires are likely to spawn a unique and individual garment.
That trust works both ways. It is important for the customer to trust that I have the skills and experience to execute the project but it’s also for me to balance the need to guide and steer the customer, as well as trusting that they understand their own style and taste.
6. Do you have a favourite cloth to work with?
My favourite cloth is Smith Woolens FInmeresco. We use it a lot in the Bespoke Department for versatile suits and blazers that say looking sharp all day long and have great breathability for year-round wear.
7. What’s your favourite piece you have created at Oliver Brown?
Well I try to always be looking forward and getting excited about what I am currently working and focusing on and there is a fun project that we hope to be revealing in the next few months.
We recently finish two suits for a young lad of twenty one, a birthday present. It was such a pleasure to take someone through their first bespoke experience and to share that excitement. We made a classic navy suit that could be used for important occasions and a more flamboyant burgundy peak lapel suit for parties and heading out to dinner. The smile on his face at the final fitting was such a joy, he didn’t want to take the suit off.
8. How has menswear changed over the past couple of years? Has the pandemic effected the way men are dressing?
I think it would be naive to say that menswear hasn’t shifted to the more casual end of the spectrum. As much as this might seem to discount the inclusion of tailoring in the modern man’s wardrobe, I think it is only a positive thing and for us, an opportunity to start opening customers eyes to the possibilities of what is achievable with tailored garments.
Casual doesn’t need to mean slovenly; casual can be executed with care and consideration; we are here and happy to guide people on how to achieve that.
9. In your opinion, what are the key pieces that every gentleman should have in his wardrobe?
Every man should own a two or three-piece suit in a neutral colour, navy blue would be my suggestion. Always at hand for a wedding celebration, job interview or that important business meeting.
A versatile Sports Jacket can cover many bases. It’s nice to get dressed up to head out to a restaurant in the evening but a suit can be a bit too much for most people. The right sports jacket can be adapted to most formalities of occasion and leave you feeling relaxed and presentable. The key is to pick a cloth with some texture or pattern to avoid it looking like you’ve just slung on your business suit jacket.
A well-cut pair of tailored trousers can speak volumes on their own and negate the need for a jacket in the warmer months of the year. Trousers don’t need to feel uncomfortable or restrictive, anything but; I like to think of a pair of grey flannel trousers as ‘the gentleman’s jogger’, soft, supple and stylish.
10. Describe your personal style and what is your style philosophy?
Simple & functional. I like things to fulfil a purpose and be part of an outfit on merit.
11. Who is your style icon? Man or woman?
I’ve had many in the past but I’m not sure I have a singular person that I idolise in that way anymore. I no doubt draw inspiration, but I am much more comfortable having found my own individual style and building looks around that.
12. If you could dress anyone, who would it be?
Paul Weller. Not only is he one of this country’s most talented songwriters but he’s also a bit of a clothes nut. It’s great to collaborate with people who share a similar passion for clothes, style or craft.
13. When you’re not working at Oliver Brown, how do you like to spend your time?
Outside of work I tend to spend my time socialising with friends, watching live music, going to art galleries and the like. I took up climbing a few years back, so I try and make time to get to the climbing gym a couple of times a week too.
I'm also really passionate about film. I met a friend a few years back who made a big impression on me. He was a film fanatic and gave me a huge appreciation for the power of film and storytelling. It’s something to share and connect to.
Why not book an appointment with Mike, and discover the world of Oliver Brown bespoke?
Bespoke prices start from;
2 Piece Suit - £3,750
Sports Jacket - £2,850
Trousers - £900
or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information