earlier this year, when all of Savile Row was indeed, if not actually, on leave, Andrew P. Goldberg, National Sales Manager at Scabal, visited his friends at Anderson & Sheppard. The bespoke tailor, located parallel to Old Burlington Street, had just received a visit from another of its regulars, Daniel Craig. The outgoing James bond, Goldberg’s friends informed him, had flipped through a fabric book (they’re called clusters, those fabric sample books you flip through at a tailor and, a good little sewing anecdote, actually have invented by Scabal in 1938) while looking at clothes for a bespoke blazer to wear at the premiere of No time to die.
Goldberg tells the story several months later from the polished cutting table at Scabal’s own house, full of walnut trees and spotlights, on ‘the Row’. The premiere of 007 took place two days earlier – a first, you will recall, which saw Craig walk the red carpet at the Royal Albert Hall in a double-breasted fuchsia velvet tuxedo jacket. It was, to be absolutely clear, one of the most talked about moments in menswear since, well, ever. The jacket, some called it raspberry, others cherry – let’s call it rose – had been cut by Anderson & Sheppard. The fabric, a 15 oz cotton and velor blend, was woven by Scabal.
Two days after the crash of Craig’s podiums and there is still a buzz around the Scabal showroom. The blazer continues to polarize social media (most people agree with it) and generate comments from everyone from oversized style watchers to former breakfast presenters. “You’re meant to be a steel-eyed assassin with exemplary sartorial taste, Mr. Craig… not an act of homage to Austin Powers,” the predictably pugnacious Piers Morgan joked on Twitter. You can’t pay for that kind of PR. Well, you can. Omega did it. But Scabal didn’t.
“We even got a mention in Sunday Times, says Goldberg. “This jacket sparked inquiries from around the world.”
If you’ve never heard of Scabal, whose teal flag flies halfway down Savile Row, between the iconic brown sign of Huntsman & Son’s and the orange badge of couture disruptors Cad & The Dandy, There is a reason for this. For much of the 83-year history of the company, Scabal, which was founded and still has its headquarters in Brussels (“Scabal”, pronounced “ska-ball”, is the acronym for Anglo Belgo German Commercial Company Luxembourgish), existed primarily as a supplier of textiles, weaving fabrics from its factory in Huddersfield and supplying them to some of the biggest names in fashion.
Tom Ford is a client. The same goes for Alfred Dunhill, Balenciaga, Burberry, Christian Dior and Saint Laurent. There are shelves in the office at the back of Scabal’s store labeled with the names of virtually every other tailor in Savile Row and the surrounding area. Scabal provides them all. “Scabal is the name you turn to when looking for luxury fabric,” says Goldberg. “No premium fabric, but a suitable luxury fabric, the best of the best. “
Scabal is a sort of unicorn in men’s fashion, in that he is both a mill and a merchant. Here’s how it usually works: English fabric merchants with names you’ve never heard of, unless you’re in the game yourself, buy fabrics from factories you’ve never heard of. , mainly based in Huddersfield (which is to textiles what Northampton is to shoes) to supply bigger brands, which you have probably heard of (Tom Ford, et al.). Scabal, who acquired the historic Bower Roebuck factory in Huddersfield in 1973 (a year after securing a storefront on Savile Row), is unique in being both weaver and merchant. Since 1989, the company has also produced clothing under its own brand.
A little history. Scabal innovated in 1974 by producing wool based on ultra-fine fibers. For more than a century since the Industrial Revolution mechanized the weaving process, the finest fibers made by any factory measured a width of around 18.75 microns (using today’s measurements hui); the best woolen fabrics, or wool blend fabrics, becoming known as Super 100s or S 100s. Within 12 months of purchasing Bower Roebuck, Scabal had created the first Super 120 fabric from fibers measuring 17.75 microns, followed by fabrics called S150 (16.25 microns), S180 (14.75 microns) and same S200 (13.75 microns).
“Our ‘Summit’ fabric is the finest and rarest combed fabric on the planet,” says Goldberg. “A post-Super 200 fabric, it’s made from 100% wool and is so complex that it took us four and a half years to develop it. “
On a shelf behind Goldberg is a black leather-bound book with the words “Scabal’s Story” inscribed on the back. It turns out that Daniel Craig wasn’t the first 007 to wear a suit cut from a fabric made by Scabal. In 1995, the company equipped Pierce Brosnan with Golden eye. Scabal’s association with Hollywood, explains a chapter titled “Scabal and the Silver Screen,” began in the 1970s when the Hollywood (and Broadway) wardrobe departments began ordering costumes for their stars. . It was Scabal that legendary costume designer Anna Hill Johnstone turned to when she was researching period costumes for the protagonists of Francis Ford Coppola’s seminal. The Godfather (1972). The outfits worn by Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) and Sonny Corleone (James Caan) were all in Scabal fabric. The film and its costumes earned Hill Johnstone an Oscar nomination.
Scabal’s relationship with Martin Scorsese began with Casino (1995). The epic Las Vegas crime drama sees hotel baron Sam Ace Rothstein (Robert de Niro) sporting over 40 outfits. To ensure an accurate portrayal of changing fashions over the film’s timeline, which spans the early 1970s to mid-1980s, Scabal provided Scorsese costumers with access to their design archives. The company has since helped Scorsese with outfits for Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic, the aviator and The wolf of Wall Street.
Back on Savile Row, a former Arsenal football player walks into the store, which sounds like the start of a joke, but it isn’t. The former central midfielder (hint: he is currently the club’s technical director) is starting to fumble through a selection of polo shirts and suede jackets. Nowadays, Scabal makes more than costumes. Tommy Raban, the Scabal showroom manager dressed smartly and swiftly like a Broadgate broker, jokes the Arsenal man in the store.
What did Raban think of Craig’s hot pink jacket? “I loved it mate, the whole point of a beautiful stitching and a beautiful fabric is the freedom of expression.” Do you have a lot of famous people here? “We support each other. Beckham, Tom Hiddleston, Lionel Richie. Although every face is famous. It’s important to recognize everyone the same – anyone who wears Scabal becomes an Ambassador.
Spoiled as I am, Raban offers to make me a jacket. With Craig’s wacky rig-out still on my mind, I go for a six-by-two double-breasted blazer – albeit in a more versatile coffee-colored cotton. I’ll need a dark brown tie.
Raban takes my measurements, asks me what setbacks I would like (the Edward Nutter-type please, because i always wanted a blazer with wide cartoon lapels and you can’t seem to find them on the main street) ask me to choose from a collection of buttons (the ones in dark mother-of-pearl look good), passes me a bunch of pounds of liners (I grab a pink and blue cashmere, which I think might work) and says “come get it in four weeks.”
When I do, the jacket is a bit tight under the arms, which, says Raban, could be because Scabal’s house style is to have armholes that are taller than usual. There’s also the fact that I’ve just returned from a heavy honeymoon on paella. “No problem,” Raban said, pulling out his tape measure, too polished to indicate the extra wood. “Leave and come back in a few days. Scabal’s clothes are cut and assembled in Portugal, but touch-ups and finishes are done on the Row.
When I return, Raban is leafing through one of the company’s pile-pile books. Craig’s fabric isn’t in there. He belongs to an older group. This time my blazer is perfect. Raban says he wants to get a replica of Craig’s jacket for Scabal’s window. Goldberg is not enthusiastic. He only has 30 meters of equipment left. “Plus,” he said, disappearing through the door to ship another day’s fabric orders through the surrounding streets, “you’ll just have to grab it and wear it in town. “*
* Raban must have been successful because a few months later a replica of Craig’s jacket appeared in Scabal’s windows. However, we haven’t spotted it in town yet.
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