The arrival of 2012 has brought with it many questions, with varied answers ranging from reasonable to improbable to outright bizarre. When it comes to fashion, what can we expect to change and will anything remain the same?
Humanity as a whole hasn’t reached the futuristic goal of Jetson-wear, though there are a few exceptions - i.e. Lady GaGa and any other celebrity who can afford top name designers. Although, one must wonder what the rest of the population can do to keep their wardrobes updated. Perhaps this year will be different, as more and more people are becoming disappointed with the pre-made, one-size-fits-all (but not really) options.
Fashionistas and Plain Janes alike should set their sights on what has yet to be created. With sites like Etsy.com gaining more popularity, crafters and designers are able to provide consumers with one-of-a-kind fashions designed to their specifications. Wearing a piece of custom clothing is a sure-fire way to gain a boost of confidence. You’ll be beaming when you tell your friend or that curious person in the checkout line that your jacket was made just for you.
Will Field, owner of Field English Custom Tailors in Washington, D.C., has recently seen such a tremendous increase in business that appointments have become required. He learned the trade from his father, an Englishman who worked as a coat maker in London during the 50’s. On a bet, Will Field Senior applied for a job in the District of Columbia, he was accepted for the position and arrived in November of 1963. He worked with Saunders & Son until 1968, when he opened his own shop at 3200 S St. NW Washington, D.C.
As the business grew, a new location was necessary to accommodate materials and larger workspace. The shop then moved to 1742 Wisconsin Ave NW, where Will’s son came to know the family business. After receiving education at University of Maryland, Will Field Junior decided to join his father in the venture on January 2, 1995. They worked side by side until his father’s passing in July of 2006. Now the shop resides at 2134 Wisconsin Ave NW, where it has been operating for the past two years.
When asked if he felt there was more or less of a market for custom clothing than there is for mass produced fashions, Will had this to say – “I think the internet is why this is starting to happen. There are more young clients interested in custom designs. In the old days people went by word of mouth – a grandfather would get his clothes made somewhere, and so his son and grandson usually followed. Today fashion blogs have become the word of mouth. We’ve also gotten customers who find us on Google or Yelp.”
Field English Custom Tailors certainly lives up to the name. As Will learned from his father, who studied with tailors of the prestigious Savile Row, he is careful to provide top notch service. Fabrics are imported from either London or Italy, and stacked on shelves that reach to the ceiling. Will’s attention to detail and his personable approach provides customers with a quality experience that is sure to leave them more than satisfied. “You’re not treated like you’re going into Nordstrom’s and some salesperson throws a suit at you and says ‘You look great!” he declares.
It’s true the old-world charm is difficult to find these days, but Will and his wife Carrie are determined to keep the spirit alive. Being able to communicate effectively with their clientele is a top priority. Will is sure to ask questions in order to address issues his clients come across with “off the peg” garments. In return, he is able to form longstanding relationships, which benefits both the business and the consumer. The shop itself boasts a lovely sitting room, which faces the selection of fabrics, straight back to Will’s open office. The décor is simply charming.
Interested to know how they plan to keep up with modern issues, such as going green, I inquired as to whether anyone had shown interest in sustainable materials. Will assured me that he hadn’t received any inquiries or requests for eco-friendly fabrics, but suspected that it would be more feasible to cater to women should the issue arise. However, patterns such as Donegal or Gamekeeper Tweed are created by integrating colored scraps into the main fabric. This process has gone on for hundreds of years, and continues to be a popular form of recycling textiles. Carrie asserts that the shop does participate in a recycling program, and they also have shown interest in purchasing solar panels for their roof.
This season business is booming for Will and Carrie. Washingtonian Magazine is set to publish yet another article on the shop in their May issue, which will join at least two others which currently hang on the walls.
Though trends are always changing, it is important to keep in mind the effects in which the fashion world has on humans, as well as the environment. Instead of mindlessly accepting ideas that are constantly thrust into our faces through television, magazines, and online media, perhaps we should remind ourselves of our own opinions. Exploring the imagination enables us to find a creative outlet, a way in which we can satisfy our urge to fashion and produce a spectacular end product. Therefore, we should attempt to understand why we enjoy looking at and wearing certain colors, patterns, fabrics, and adornments. From there we can decide whether or not we want to continue to fit the mold, or break it.