The world of tailoring is full of characters but few shine brighter than Russell Howarth. Not only a star in the cutting room but also on the compelling show, Victoria Slum, aired last year – in which Russell and his family had to live and work as Victorian tailors.
Russell learned his rock of eye (the fabled ability of master tailors to visualise cloth in three dimensions) in the best possible way, by cutting thousands of uniforms for the military elite. Whilst working for Kashkets, everyone from The Household Cavalry to Sandhurst Officers would come to be measured up by Russell. By it’s very nature, the creation of the uniform requires soldiers of all shapes and sizes to look the same whilst on parade. Good tailoring can perfect the asymmetries of sloping shoulders and straighten a stoop. I’ve often been told that it’s far easier to look good by visiting a decent tailor than a gym, which is without a doubt true when you consider the expense and effort of paying to pump iron rather than pick cloth.
Following his time at Kashkets, Russell decided to make the bold move taking over the well-respected city tailor’s, Graham Browne, with the help of his right hand man, Dan. Within the sound of the Bow Bells, the duo then did what they do best – cutting a fine whistle for a bag of sand. That’s not all; Russell and Dan are able to create fabulous bespoke creations of all kinds. I often enjoy bumping into a Pike Man from the Lord Mayors’ ceremonial guard or a fastidious customer perfecting the box pleat on this overcoat when paying them a visit. The shop is in a pedestrian passage off Bow Lane and is unsurprisingly always busy, with their recent expansion of new workshops downstairs.
I’ve known Russell for almost 18 years since he tailored me a classic grey flannel suit as my first ever bespoke piece and then my original cycling suit in a burgundy corduroy before the conception of Dashing. Wearing this triggered the idea of weaving with reflective yarns and so Russell was the first to produce a Lumatwill cycle suit for me and then the famous cyclist and inventor of the mountain bike, Gary Fisher.
Russell and Dan seem to delight in the challenges I’ve thrown at them over the years. Most recently, we worked together with Ben Drew, the singer known as Plan B, to create a tailored take on the famous green bomber worn by skin heads for his latest video which is out soon.
Over the years, they have made all sorts of fabulous clothes for me and also for the Dashing shop including our novel twisted check trousers, which take inspiration from the cut of riding breeches, yet look entirely modern.
Whether you look for a classic grey flannel city suit, or something amusing for the weekend, or if you’re even thinking of starting your regiment – then there is no question that Russell is the man for you.