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Mirror, mirror on the wall...Who's the finest tailor of them all?

29th Aug 2015

The wonderful tailoring of esteemed houses such as Tautz, Huntsman, Sandon, Weatherill and Frank Hall goes on for ever, thanks to the generations of skilled workmanship that went into each hunt coat. Hence, we are able to sell hunt coats from as early as the 19th century today, that can still go on to do their job on the hunting field. The shaped arms, the detailing on the cuffs and buttonholes, the silhouettes – none of this can be replicated in modern manufactured coats, no matter how good they are, as economics simply don’t allow. That’s why we continue to sell these beautiful vintage coats, at a fraction of what they would cost new nowadays.

The date of tailoring is always written on to the tailor’s label, but if the ink has faded, it is possible to date the coat roughly from the address, and from many stylistic clues too, each one peculiar to the tailor.   We will always be happy to put our knowledge to good use to help you date a coat, even if you don’t want to sell it, but simply want more information – so do please contact us with your query via mia@vintagetackroom.com

More owners of vintage coats come to Vintage Tack Room (or our sister company, Vintage Sidesaddle Company) to sell them than to any other hunting retailer, due to our extensive knowledge of each tailor, and our discerning client base.

The question is – which of the tailors reigns supreme overall, in your opinion? It’s entirely subjective – although our personal favourites are Huntsman for gentlemen’s coats, and Bernard Weatherill for ladies (we'll be posing the question on Vintage Sidesaddle Company's website as to the best habit tailor soon also) – but we would love to know which is your favourite tailor, and why.

Here’s a little information about each one.  If you click on anything in italics you can link through to the coat or tailor being described.

Huntsman were founded in 1864 and still supply handfinished coats today, with over 80 hours of craftsmanship going into each coat. They have dressed royalty and luminaries such as Edward VIII, Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl of Burman, Laurence Olivier and Cecil Beaton. Now it’s your turn, with this beautiful hunt coat

Frank Hall, based in Market Harborough, in the heart of Shires hunting, started tailoring in 1909 and hold a Royal Warrant for the Prince of Wales. Here’s an example of their marvellous tailoring from the 1960s

Edward Tautz launched his own business in London’s prosperous Oxford Street in 1867, in the middle of a tailor’s strike, with an advertisement in the London Gazette, in which he informed that ‘N.B. E Tautz have not struck’. In 1875, the firm changed its name to E Tautz & Sons when Edward’s son Frederick George came into the business. In Edwardian times, Tautz’s sidesaddle habits were second to none, and the one we sold last year to Georgina Jellicoe Preston was no exception – it’s been seen flying over many a hedge since.

In 1968, the name was bought by the Savile Row firm Norton & Sons – sadly the business of etautz.com bears no resemblance to its heritage now. Luckily, we do get fine examples of their work from time to time, such as this marvellous gent’s red hunt coat from the 19th century

Bernard Weatherill was started in the 19th century by Bernard Bruce Weatherill, who handed the business onto his son, the Speaker of the House of Commons, Bernard. Their exquisite tailoring and wonderful cloth, especially for ladies hunt coats, means that coats which are decades old are still in amazing condition. Placing a tailoring date on Bernard Weatherill coats is fun! The colours of the linings, and the positioning of the labels, all offer a clue, together with the address on the label, as they moved from Oxford Street to Savile Row.

Much less is known about Bernard’s cousin, Gordon, whose tailoring has clear foundations taken from the famous Savile Row company. Gordon Weatherill’s firm in Guildford supplied many famous huntsmen and women until recent times.

We’d love to know your thoughts on your favourite tailors – which of the above appeals to you most? Of course there are others too – so if your favourite isn’t mentioned here, please let us know. All our respondents will go into a prize draw.

We can’t end without mentioning the tailors of the current day. Whilst mass-producing must of necessity mean that the bespoke shapes can’t be mimicked, Caldene’s coat cutting is really admirable, with its tailoring taking its inspiration from Bernard Weatherill. In the 1980s, Caldene had a licence to produce a Bernard Weatherill range and that is clear in the cutting of its Wessex and Roxburgh coats.

Harry Hall, until the late 1980s, produced some wonderful tailoring in hacking jackets, and we’ve sold many of these – here’s one of the ladies jackets we have at the moment. Their hunt coats are excellent too, and we have several black and red in stock.

So, thank you for reading, and please email us your thoughts, stories, pictures as soon as you can. We’d love to hear tales of vintage coats you own, your favourite tailors, or if you’ve bought a coat from us, we’d love to hear what it’s been up to in its new life!

mia@vintagetackroom.com

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