Innovations That Matter

The cutter uses the telepresence device to appraise how the client walks and stands and to spot any physical quirks that need to be adjusted | Photo source Huntsman

Luxury suit brand pivots to remote fitting


Savile Row "cutters," who normally spend much of their time flying the world for trunk shows, are using telepresence devices to perform remote fittings

Spotted: Time was, when you wanted a bespoke item of clothing, you needed to either visit a tailor in person or have the tailor come to you. For the most exclusive bespoke tailors, such as Savile Row’s Huntsman, the coronavirus has been especially challenging. That’s because Savile Row “cutters” normally spend much of their time flying the world for trunk shows – with most houses earning around 70 per cent of their revenue that way. In response, Huntsman has turned to a telepresence device.

The new system is essentially a camera and intercom on wheels. At one end is the camera and a locally-based affiliated tailor with a measuring tape, and at the other is one of Huntsman’s expert fitters. The expert is needed because of the process Savile Row tailors use to ensure a suit that not only fits perfectly but can also hide imperfections like uneven arms or bowed legs, a knack known in the trade as “Rock of Eye”. This process includes not only taking measurements but noting how the client walks and stands.

The idea to use a telepresence device came from Huntsman owner and hedge fund manager, Pierre Lagrange, who has been looking for ways to expand Huntsman’s offerings during the pandemic, without reducing the quality. Lagrange said in an interview that he’s, “always been a proponent of using tech in ways that let people focus on what they’re really good at, whether that’s a hedge fund or in tailoring.”

The company now has six robots, all named “Mr Hammick,” after Huntsman’s legendary former head cutter. It normally requires three fittings to complete a Savile Row suit, a process that can take up to one year. But the use of a travelling telepresence device, instead of a travelling cutter, will speed up the time it takes to complete a suit, which could help boost business. Mr Lagrange has said, “I don’t know how fast we would have gotten here without Covid. Sometimes you need a crisis.”

For years, telepresence devices have been a boon to people who cannot leave the house, for various reasons. With the coronavirus pandemic, they have seen a host of innovative new uses. These include using them for more realistic remote working experiences and live remote tours of art museums.

Written By: Lisa Magloff

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