Unusually among the Savile Row tailoring elite, bespoke tailor Kathryn Sargent has a degree in Fashion Design. It was while studying for her BA at Epsom School of Art that she became fascinated by how clothes are constructed and so found her way to Savile Row. Her entry point was Denman & Goddard, a long-established small firm in New Burlington Street, run by Peter Day and David Cook. Day in particular was to be her mentor and in 1996 he persuaded Gieves & Hawkes to take her on as a trimmer – the lowest rank in the tailoring hierarchy. Kathryn’s rise at G&H was speedy and by 2000, barely three years after she had joined, she was seeing customers as a cutter. It is not unusual for some tailoring folk to wait 10 years to progress to this level.
Kathryn was made head cutter at No 1 Savile Row in 2009. She is a popular and familiar figure around The Row, rarely seen in anything but one of her own tailored suits in a lively check. Since January, having left Gieves after 15 years’ service, Kathryn has been her own boss.
Kathryn Sargent Bespoke Tailoring is located within the premises of the historic Meyer & Mortimer firm at No 6 Sackville Street, an address once regularly visited by Beau Brummell. Steeped in the traditions of fine English tailoring as she is, Kathryn declares herself very at home with the several other independent tailors and shirt makers that share space with Paul Munday and Brian Lewis, the owners of Jones, Chalk & Dawson, the main firm at No 6.
In her newly independent position, Sargent believes that she can appeal to more women to try out true bespoke. “Once I started designing and making suits for myself, I became very stimulated by creating pieces for female clients. I have designed and made entire working wardrobes for business women in New York and in London. I want to pass on to more females my passion for sharp-tailored women’s garments. Women who have tried it enjoy the bespoke experience just as much as men,” she says.
She is certain her very many regular clients, male and female, keep coming back because of her less-than-dictatorial approach. She insists: “I don't believe in house styles and I don't have one. My approach, my craft, is pure bespoke. The beauty of my work is that no two garments are the same. My skill is to facilitate and to realise my clients' visions.”
In my case, Kathryn was a patient and confident collaborator when I took to her some handsome Robert Noble “Gamekeeper” tweed and a length of Fox Flannel trousering. I was determined not to have yet another classic sports jacket and after several consultations and fittings we agreed on a 1-button SB with centre vent and patch pockets with pleasingly swelled edges, a neat waistcoat with revers, and some simply comfortable trousers. I am delighted with the results, not least as they disguise a backside and stomach that are not as small as they used to be.
Kathryn Sargent regularly visited the USA twice a year with Gieves. Her first solo trip will take in Chicago on March 2 and 3 and New York on March 5, 6 and 7 (morning only on the last day). For more information and to contact Kathryn, her website is www.kathrynsargent.com. Her work is priced from about $5,100 (£3,230 ex-VAT) for a two-piece suit and from $3,200 (£2,000 ex-VAT) for a jacket.
-Text and photos by Eric Musgrave