Creator Profile: David Mason for Anthony Sinclair

We chat with Anthony Sinclair's Creative Director, David Mason, about James Bond and British bespoke tailoring

Men want to be him and women want to be with him. Ever since he hit the big screens in 1962, James Bond has become the very definition of charm, charisma and style. The suave character is known for wearing impeccably tailored suits, landing himself beautiful women, driving exotic cars and of course his signature cocktail, the martini…shaken not stirred. Die-hard fans of 007 would be aware of the ‘Conduit Cut’ bespoke suite that acting legend, Sean Connery wore in all of his roles in the franchise. The immaculately tailored bespoke suit was created by Anthony Sinclair – whose legacy sadly faded over time after his passing in 1986.

British suit maker and designer, David Mason, however, has revived the Sinclair name. The Anthony Sinclair Creative Director has a flair for elegance and an indomitable passion for British bespoke tailoring. He has poured his zeal for genuine bespoke hand-tailored clothing into the Anthony Sinclair venture, which he began together with the late Sinclair’s apprentice, and now master tailor, Richard Paine.

Although he came from humble beginnings and majored in chemistry during his time in University, Mason’s keen eye for fashion propelled him into the world of British tailoring. He speaks with us about his fascination with James Bond, his love for sartorial excellence and how the two interests amazingly fell into place to allow him to revive the Anthony Sinclair label.

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In five words, who is David Mason?

That is a tough question, but I’ll do my best. British bespoke tailor and entrepreneur.

Tell us a bit about your background and how you got into tailoring suits?

I was born in Manchester. Growing up, I had all these male role models and number one, of course, was James Bond. For someone like me, who was from the grim industrial North, he was a character who exuded glamour, sophistication and international travel. I think for many men, James Bond remains an iconic figure.

My first visit to London was a school trip when I was 17 and in the afternoon we were free to go and explore. I went to Savile Row (looking for James Bond's tailor) but, I couldn’t find it because I realized that he had never had a tailor on Savile Row. I found out that his first tailor was in fact, Anthony Sinclair, who was on Conduit Street.

I have always had an eye for fashion and been interested in nice clothes, though I couldn’t afford to buy them as a university undergraduate so I took a job in a clothes shop. Even though I was able to keep my wardrobe up to date, I still had a problem...my legs were too long for the trousers, so I had to get them tailored. There was once when I got a sketchpad and drew what I thought would look nice and got the tailor to make them, and they turned out perfect. That must have been a trigger for my interest.

 

How did you revive the Anthony Sinclair name?

I was doing an apprenticeship at a shop in Savile Row many years back and I met this tailor called Richard Paine, who was a very good cutter and craftsman. Richard was selling suits to private clients and his own name, Richard Paine, was the label that was being sewn into the suits. I was chatting with some fellow tailors about the suits in James Bond, and I happened to mention Anthony Sinclair. I was rather shocked to learn that Richard owned the Anthony Sinclair brand.

So I spoke to Richard about it, and he told me that he had been Anthony Sinclair’s apprentice when he was a teenager. In 1986 Anthony had a stroke, and before he passed away later that year, he handed down his shears to Richard. After running the business under the Anthony Sinclair name for a number years, he switched the label to his own name. I suggested reviving the Anthony Sinclair name and that I could help develop a market. Though he was quite keen, he ended up retiring for a number of years. Before he did that, I registered the name anthonysinclair.com.

Then in 2011, I got a call from Eon Productions; the 50 anniversary of the Bond movies was upon them in 2012 and they wanted to do an exhibition called “Designing 50 Years of James Bond Style”. They got in touch with me for an Anthony Sinclair suit. I knew of a guy who had an Anthony Sinclair bespoke suit made for Sean Connery in 1965. I got him to loan it to me and convinced Richard to work his magic and remade the midnight blue evening suit from Dr. No. It was a great adventure for me and (I told) Richard that it was now or never for the Anthony Sinclair label, and Richard agreed. We relaunched in January 2012.

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Which region has the biggest demand for Anthony Sinclair’s bespoke British tailoring?

America has always been Anthony Sinclair’s biggest market. When I was invited to the opening of the James Bond exhibition in Shanghai, I realized that there are lots of James Bond fans there too and took orders for suits, including one for a client in Hong Kong. I went to Hong Kong to see him and ended up getting more clients there too. And suddenly Asia looks as if it is set to eclipse the rest of my markets, because there seems to be a lot of interest.

Describe your personal style.

I am very much of the Anthony Sinclair school really - purity, line, elegance, sophistication and quality. I’m always trying to develop a timeless style and that works for me. I am wearing pleated trousers now, which are an absolute classic, and I’m just about the only person I know who does. Everybody else wears plain fronted trousers. I like that nobody else is wearing what I am.

 

You spoke about British tailoring. What exactly is British tailoring?

If you’re having a piece of clothing made or if you’re buying a luxury product, you’re not only buying the product but also the sort of ‘story’ attached to it. That is often the most compelling reason to buy the product. You can buy good wine from different regions of the world but there’s something very special about French wine, they have the history and the heritage…and it’s the same with suits in Savile Row.

British bespoke tailoring from Savile Row comes with about 200 years of excellence combined into one street. It’s extraordinary that it’s still alive despite the 1980s loose fitting designer suits when the designer brand was absolutely king for a long time. The tailors really could not emulate that unstructured ‘Armani-esque’ styling of the time.

I don’t think British bespoke tailoring is fantastic necessarily because Britain produces great tailors, but in fact I think it’s fantastic because Savile Row has been known for centuries as a center of excellence. The tailors, who work there, are like the United Nations…they are from every corner of the globe; wherever they come from they want to head to Savile Row. That’s the important thing and that’s the thing that keeps it alive.

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From start to finish, how long does it typically take to tailor a bespoke suit with Anthony Sinclair?

Tailoring a complete suit would take about 60 man hours. However, there is also the time we take to look after the client. If they are spending a lot of money for a bespoke suit, they will of course demand a high degree of personal service and attention. There is also time needed for fitting, making appointments, and travelling around the world to see our clients, so obviously each suit we make will take longer than 60 hours.

What are five things that are important to you?

My family is the first, after which, certainly Britain is important because I am always very keen to promote British products and British culture; it’s sort of the focus of everything that I do. Third, would have to be keeping fit and healthy, with my most recent challenge being the New York marathon. Next is travelling internationally; when I was watching those James Bond films, I had always dreamed of travelling and exploring other countries and other cultures. That has become a great passion of mine and I’m lucky to have a job that allows to me to do that. Although it’s at the bottom of this list, I’d really like to make a success of this business…and that remains a challenge in this industry.

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