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Style

Behind the shears with Oliver Brown’s master tailor

Debonair chats to Juan Carlos, a third-generation master tailor and head of bespoke at tailoring house Oliver Brown

Fashions come and go with the moment, but style is more considered, acknowledges what has come before it and carries on with a quiet confidence.

My first fashion memory is… It’s so difficult to place my very first fashion memory, however, I spent a great deal of time with my father and grandfather at their tailoring business as a child. I was fascinated with all their tools (which I was more interested in than my own at the time!) and the work in which they were engaged.

The most stylish item I own is… an overcoat my father made in the 1960s. It has many features of bespoke tailoring, like double back pleats instead of vents, which aren’t often used today. He always took great care of the clothing he made for himself, and as a result it still looks great all these years later. This is something I seek to emulate through my work at Oliver Brown.

My most valuable item is… my grandfather’s pair of shears — I use them every day at my cutting table in Oliver Brown’s dedicated bespoke space.

Fashions come and go with the moment, but style is more considered, acknowledges what has come before it and carries on with a quiet confidence.

The difference between fashion and style is… Fashion is temporary; style is timeless. Fashions come and go with the moment, but style is more considered, acknowledges what has come before it and carries on with a quiet confidence.

The one look I wish I could pull off is… Steve McQueen in Bullitt: A tweed blazer, turtleneck, dark-wash jeans, boots and, of course, the classic Mustang to pull the whole look together.

The one item nobody should wear is… I’m not sure I have a singular answer to this question. One of the characteristic parts of the bespoke industry is an understanding that what suits an individual is unique. It’s therefore impossible to develop a comprehensive list of dos and don’ts.

Accessories should be used sparingly and tactfully. They should complement an outfit, not take charge of it.

~Juan Carlos

What are your thoughts on accessories? Accessories should be used sparingly and tactfully. They should complement an outfit, not take charge of it. But, that being said, accessories like a good watch, cufflinks, or tiepin, are a chance to show off individuality and are to be encouraged — this is why the Oliver Brown bespoke and ready-to-wear collections work so well together.

When I shop I… like to browse for inspiration for my own work. It’s always helpful to see what other people are doing and draw from that. 

Do you prefer bricks or clicks? I much prefer brick-and-mortar stores. When you visit a shop, you have the chance to encounter the people who are ambassadors of the brand they work for. And for the bespoke industry, it’s all about the people. Styles are known by the tailors who make them. It’s such a joy to welcome people into our dedicated bespoke space and take an original design from conception to completion with them, and only in-store can you talk a client through the more than 2,000 cloths we have available to choose from, from the most eminent English, Scottish and Italian mills.

Who would you say is the most stylish man to have ever lived? That’s a really difficult question to answer. There are so many people who have shaped what we consider stylish. Fred Astaire, the Duke of Windsor, Cary Grant and the like — I really admire their kind of classic and timeless looks.

If you could invite three designers to a dinner party, who would you invite and what would you serve? Alexander McQueen, Edward Sexton and Mogroviejo, one of the best tailors ever. My grandfather learnt from him, and he originally did his apprenticeship in London at Kilgour. I would serve a selection of my favourite Spanish dishes, of which I have many! 

The one item I can’t live without is… my measuring tape. It regulates everything I do in my work.

What I like best about my job is… working with people who appreciate the craftsmanship involved in tailoring. I’m very privileged to work as head of bespoke at Oliver Brown, and it’s an honour to work with the team led by Kristian Ferner Robson, who gives me the freedom to put my own stamp on creations.

What are your thoughts on the industry? Traditional tailors (on and off Savile Row) and the broader fashion industry are working more closely together than ever. This has the dual effect of bringing updated fashion trends to old clothing houses and sharing the heritage and traditional modes of production with designers.

If I weren’t in the fashion industry, I would… I’d like to be a pilot. It’s always been an ambition of mine to learn to fly! 

Men's Accessories

Peckham Rye

Skull tie -navy
AED 290.00

Richard James

Pocket Square Floral Splash
AED 225.00

Finlay & Co

Bowery Black - Blue Mirror
AED 685.00

Babette Wasserman

Enamel Knot Cufflinks, Black - base metal, enamel
AED 325.00

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