Southborough is set to see a new name for tailors on its high street. Moving into a place with a proven track record, we catch up with Stuart Hardman, of Hardman & Hemming, on what makes the town the right fit for him and his bespoke business
What is the company’s history?
Hardman & Hemming started in 2012, originally as a visiting service. Having worked for other tailors across the South East, we decided to make it on our own, taking the full tailored suit service directly into people’s homes and workplaces. Although we always knew we wanted to have a shop, we were just waiting for the time to be right. It was perfect timing meeting Colin De’Ath as he was looking for someone to take over the shop and work with him over the next year.
The drive behind Hardman & Hemming is to provide a place outside Savile Row or the West End where you can get top quality tailored garments.
With the company changing hands, what can clients now expect?
Our dedication to the highest of standards won’t change with the new management, we are still Hardman & Hemming. Our shop in Southborough has been a tailors for decades and my colleague Colin, who has been the shop’s owner for the last 26 years, has made it his business to ensure that his suits are second to none.
Our suits will stay traditional in construction and finish, albeit with an occasional twist that our customers are accustomed to.
Tailoring is a centuries old profession with many well-established institutions – what gives you the edge over your competitors?
Most tailors would say the same but our customer experience is really a cut above. Having a suit tailored isn’t something you do every day so it shouldn’t feel ordinary. When someone comes to see us, we make sure it feels like an occasion.
It’s almost theatre in its own way: choosing the cloth, linings and style, being measured, the fittings and then having it made exclusively for you. It isn’t just buying a suit off the peg.
Also with our after-care, you are looked after for the whole life of the suit. As my colleague Colin says: “You’re not just buying a suit, you’re buying us!”
What is the process that goes into a tailor-made suit?
Once you have been measured and chosen your cloth, the suit is cut from an individual pattern and a basted fitting is put together – we call this the skeleton fitting. After this has been fitted with the client, the suit jacket is then taken apart and recut, taking into account any alterations. We then do additional fittings in order to ensure the best fit.
Each suit takes well over 60 solid hours to complete as attention to detail and upholding traditional Savile Row tailoring is important to us.
What makes a truly great suit?
Cloth, cut and fit. Picking the right cloth is important for both style and durability, which is why we use only the finest cloths and trimmings. If you are commuting you really want to have a hard-wearing wool.
Getting the cut is essential – you have to take into account all the body’s figurations. Broad shoulders, slim waist, maybe dropped shoulders or a hollow back, we are yet to meet Mr Average!
The better the fit and the more suited the cloth makes a huge difference, it will last longer and you will feel better in it.
Are there specific types of suit that should be worn to certain occasions?
Aside from the obvious black tie events, I think every person has that time in their life when they want to look the best they possibly can. Weddings, interviews, business meetings, first dates, the list goes on. The right suit, tailored to fit only you not only makes you look amazing but it also gives you confidence. It’s feeling as good as you look.
If you could dress any fashion icon, who would it be and why?
While Steve McQueen is definitely my fashion hero I would honestly rather dress the man on the street and make him look and feel like a style icon. It is so much more satisfying to see that look of excitement on their face as they see the stylish man in the mirror that they have always wanted to be.
Suits have been championed by many prominent women, such as Diane Keaton and Emma Watson. What is it about the suit that has allowed it to cross the gender gap?
Simply put, great tailoring enhances an individual. Through giving shape and form, it allows you to project a desired silhouette, which is desirable for both men and women.
Plus wearing a tailored jacket feels amazing, so who wouldn’t want that?
I think men can learn a lot from women’s fashion too. They are great at accessorising and it is amazing how much the right tie, pocket square, cufflinks or watch can enhance a gentlemen’s look.
What does the long-term future hold for Hardman & Hemming?
Many more years of tailoring bespoke suits for our customers and continuing to build on the legacy which Colin has built over his time in the shop.
The future also looks bright for our made to measure suit range, One16, which we are continuing to put together.
We still offer our visiting service too so there are busy times ahead.
Finally, does the man make the suit or the suit make the man?
In truth, it’s both. A great tailored suit does work wonders but if it’s worn with real confidence you can tell the difference.
Hardman & Hemming
116 London Rd, Southborough,
Tunbridge Wells TN4 0PN
Phone: 07446 092561