Tinker, Tailor, Shoulder, Spy.

007. Three digits, one man, five billion dollars in revenue. James Bond is the ultimate brand.

After the front page of Google, Daniel Craig’s pecs must be the most valuable space on earth. Pay per nip advertising – his agent’s missing a trick.

A third of Skyfall’s £100million budget was paid for by product placement deals and who can blame them. Bond is a living god: the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit of all things cool.

I can’t wait to see it. The ‘intelligent’ and ‘ambitious’ girl will still no doubt have legs up to Orion’s belt. There’ll be a fuel guzzling Aston Martin leaving Jeremy Clarkson slobbering for metaphors, an Omega watch, extreme violence, all washed down with a swig of Heineken.

The other thing that’s guaranteed is sharp threads. I’ve blogged about the Bond tailors in a previous post. If your business involves a needle and thread, then kitting out Fleming’s finest has got to be the ultimate gig.

Anthony Sinclair (Sean Connery), Doug Hayward (Roger Moore), Brioni (Piers Brosnan) and Tom Ford (Daniel Craig) all have got their 007 wings. It might mean sacrificing a hundred suits during filming but imagine the payback? A honey pot the size of Canada faced with a hurricane of fifty pound notes.

Whilst the saviour of Gucci dines out with the Broccoli massive, at least a few crumbs fall from the table to tailors like myself who are still scratching our way up.

Even before the hype, one of my customers was at my doorstep, a feverous look in his eye, thrusting the picture below into my hands and muttering the ‘Little Britain’ catchphrase, “Want that one.”

Single breasted, two buttons, straight pocket flaps. Looks rather classical. Then you spot the gorge on the lapel. It’s higher than usual. And check out the fronts. They’re more cut-away than normal. As for the jacket length, it’s on the short side. Not ‘Top Man’ freeze your bum to death short, but certainly more contemporary in length. Finally the shoulder.

The shoulder is to tailoring what terroir is to wine-making. It’s shape and character sets the tone and silhouette of everything below and is the first thing somebody notices because it’s in their line of sight.

Essentially there are two types of shoulder. One that is ‘natural’, often soft and unstructured, and one that is straighter and more constructed.

Style forums are full of posts declaring the Italians as the godfathers of the “natural” shoulder. It makes sense that in a hot climate, a tailor would want to offer his customers lighter weight cloth, and as such need to use light-weight scaffolding underneath.

The hallmark of a Neapolitan shoulder is one of little (if any) padding and canvas. They also cut the sleeves wider at the top, and this excess cloth is sewn, or ‘eased’ into the shoulder / armhole.

This combined with a clever manipulation of the seams when sewing the sleeve and the shoulder together will often create a slight ‘puff’ or pucker. Some of this can be shrunk away by pressing, although many dandies declare it a thing of beauty.

This is often referred to as a shirt shoulder, or “spalla camicia,” a picture of which is shown below and made by Napoli Su Misura.

Italians don’t have a monopoly on the less is more school of thought. Anderson and Sheppard’s soft ‘drape cut’ is very similar. Here’s Karl, one of their ex employees and now running his own show, wearing a coat with a typically soft, rounded shoulder.

Military and horsey Savile Row tailors such as Dege & Skinner, Gieves & Hawkes and Huntsman tend to go for a bit more welly in the shoulder. The same can be said for Brioni and Caraceni. It’s probably why they do so well in the States as the Yanks, like myself, prefer a more imposing shoulder line.

An example can be seen below in what I consider to be one of the finest and most iconic suits ever made.

The shoulder is straight, there’s certainly some padding and I think it flatters and draws attention to his naturally broad shoulders.

Piers, in his Brioni, also has a more constructed shoulder, however his are ‘roped’ at the end.

The Roped Shoulder, or Con Rollino, is named as such when the sleeve is higher than the shoulder line, as if it has been draped over a rope. I think it looks more formal and is what my customer wanted, similar to the Tom Ford special in my first photo.

As far as Michelsberg is concerned, we’ve always used padding in the shoulders including a ‘sleeve-head,’ which sits between the sleeve and the shoulder and is shown below.

I explained to Jon, Debbie and Sandra in the workroom that a ‘rope’ was the goal and we got busy. It wasn’t easy, but then doing new things never is. We cut the crown (top) of the sleeves with more fullness (so there was extra cloth to create the rope) and added another layer of construction in the head-roll, which I’m pointing out with my stitch-cutter below.

With some scratching of chins and clever sewing we achieved the following.

There are still a few things to sort out but that’s what it’s all about. Pushing the boundaries, being open to new ideas and not being afraid to fail.

I’ve made my peace with the crushing blow that I’ll never get to be James Bond. Which leaves the next best thing. Dressing him. Velvet collar, Daniel?