Hello! Newcastle.

This month Michelsberg Tailoring headed North up the A1, for our first trunk show to Newcastle.

A ‘trunk show’ is basically where a tailoring firm offers a travelling service, packs up its bunches of cloths and examples of its work, and presents itself to customers, at a temporary retail location, or, another venue such as a hotel room.

It’s a very common, and cost effective way, to open up new markets, assess demand and build up a loyal following, before perhaps taking the plunge and committing to bricks and mortar and a long lease. Read More

The most wonderful time of the year.

December is my favourite month of the year.

For me, it’s an opportunity to drop down a gear, and spend time with colleagues and customers on a ‘social basis.’

That means downing tools and giving the Michelsberg Kidney & Liver department a chunk of overtime.

The Christmas road to excess started at the end of November with the Michelsberg Christmas Party.

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Without doubt it was the coldest night of the year. My heart went out to The Tingley Brass Band who bravely supped their mulled wine and ensured the show went on. Read More

Howay The Toon!

Michelsberg Tailoring Newcastle is now open for business!

After months of desk research and discussion with our Newcastle based customers, George and I jumped on the train to walk the streets and finalise arrangements.

My last trip to Newcastle was on a GCSE Geography field trip, so it was vital to get a feel for the place and meet suppliers.

What a cracking city. In many ways it reminded me of Leeds – atmospheric, compact, a mixture of beautiful old buildings (their Central Arcade is very much like the Victoria Quarter) and modern architecture. Read More

Strictly New Showroom

Today, the last piece of the Michelsberg Tailoring refurbishment programme fell into place.

My Italian table and chairs finally landed.

The table came in two boxes – one for the top, one for the base.

Taped to the base was an Allen key, eight screws, four clips and…no instructions.

“Don’t panic, Mr Mannering,” I said to young George. How hard can this be?

Fast forward two hours and I’m spitting feathers.

Red-faced, my bespoke shirt stuck to my aching back, I’m fantasising about throttling the table’s pasta-munching designer, with my throbbing hands. Read More

Downtime

This Sunday I relaxed with a gin and tonic and read a profile on Amancio Ortega in the business section of The Sunday Times.

Starting out in life as a tailors assistant, he is the ultimate ‘rags to riches’ story.

With a net worth of over sixty billion, he is the founder of Inditex, the fashion empire including brands like Zara and Massimo Dutti.

The story is a business that is obsessive about listening to its customers. An innovator, whose technology and systems allow it to respond to the market with lightening speed, leaving its competitors floundering behind. Read More

We three Kings

Introducing Michelsberg Tailoring’s next apprentice, Mr George Lewis.

Here he is below, signing his life away at Michelsberg HQ in the Victoria Quarter, Leeds.

George Lewis

Formerly selling menswear at House of Fraser, he will join the ranks on September 11th.

His initial approach to me was highly professional, and throughout the interview process, conducted himself like a gentleman.

Polite, enthusiastic, with a genuine love of clothing, I think he has many of the traits I’m looking for in, what will ultimately be, a business partner. Read More

Growing old disgracefully

The former writer A.A. Gill declared that, “in your thirties, you are too old to wear a T-shirt anywhere but in the gym, you can’t do hoodies any more, or trainers, you should be able to tie a bow tie and you can’t wear shorts in the city. Forty is when you check yourself for all the signs of being a kidult. So, no more jeans. Ever.”

A. A Gill struck me as a sophisticated, elegant man who clearly loved his bespoke suits. He wore a trilby, and ‘dressed down’ in flat caps, tweed jackets, cashmere jumpers, check shirts, flannel trousers and Northampton’s finest on his feet. Read More

Uncle Walter

This month I had the pleasure of sharing my ten-year business journey with up-and coming start-up businesses, at a Leeds Enterprise Network event, held at the Yorkshire Post offices in Leeds.

Whilst determination, enthusiasm, self-belief and luck have played a large part in keeping me on the right track (I’m hardly a big success yet!), there are  several individuals who must be credited for their guidance and support.

One was a chap called Graham Rigby. It was Graham (of the Baird Menswear Group) who trained me to measure people up, checked over all my initial orders and even (on his own time) visited my customers with me so I could watch him do the fittings. Sadly now dead, he was a cheerful, cheeky, fag smoking grafter, who loved the trade and on more than one occasion got me out of a tight spot! Read More

On the cod

Five days after Christmas and despite my blood / alcohol level, I’m feeling bloody marvellous.

There’s no doubt it’s my favourite part of the year. A time for indulgence, family and friends.

Here I am, just before Christmas Eve, sinking a few (12%!) ales in ‘Friends Of Ham’ with my oldest friend Pete, over from Amsterdam for the festive season.

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Apart from the fabulous selection of beers, quality fare and wonderful ambience, the thing that impresses me most is the service. Read More

Kaizen – the way forward.

As an A-level economics student, I remember watching a case study on a Japanese car manufacturer and their ‘Kaizen’ approach to working practices.

Translated, it means “change for the better,” and has become a term to describe a business philosophy of continuous improvement across all business functions and every member of staff.

Most memorable, was a thousand employees, dressed in immaculate orange overalls, singing the company anthem and doing stretching exercises before the working day began. Read More