Crane Brothers is an iconic brand. Can you tell us about your history?
I grew up with the punk, New Romantic movement, looking at the back of a record or an old copy of The Face and going, how do I get that look? It didn’t exist here, so I grew up finding things in op shops and remodelling them. I was a menswear buyer at Zambesi for five years, which introduced me to luxury brands like Helmut Lang, Martin Margiela, and Dries Van Noten, who were doing high fashion, but everything came from tailoring. I became fixated on that craft and process.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
Contemporary, but classic. We had a guy bring in his wedding suit, which he wanted us to remodel — he got married 12 years ago, and the suit still looked good. To me, that’s the goal. Something that can sit in your wardrobe for 10 years that your son can wear to his school ball.
What’s the process for having a Crane Brothers suit made?
Some guys try on so many suits in so many stores that, by the time they come to us, they’re over it and don’t care anymore. They’ve seen 10 suits they liked the colour of that didn’t fit, and five suits that fit but they didn’t like the colour. That’s why you get something made. First, we work out what kind of event it will be, and what they want. If they want to wear the suit afterwards, that can affect their choice of fabric. But if you find something you love, you’re going to wear it again. I can normally pull out four cloths that are best for that customer, and they’ll spend 40 minutes going through the other ones before coming back to the ones you showed them. So it’s about understanding what they need, and not giving them too much choice. Measuring takes 30-40 minutes. Then we process the order and get started.
Tell us something about your service that might surprise people?
We always give our opinion and often it’s about saying ‘you don’t need to do that’. Like, a lot of people want a three-piece suit, when they’re getting married in the middle of summer.
How do you maintain your reputation for craftsmanship and attention to detail?
We’re manufacturing in Italy, working with a third- generation, family-owned tailoring business in Rome that’s been there since 1947. Pretty much everything that we do, we can make. So it’s possible to come in and get your suit, shirt, shoes, cufflinks and tie made – the whole lot. We work with mills in Italy, the UK and Belgium. Every piece of cloth we bring in is cut to length, so every order is a unique order. The logistical chain around that is intense. At any one time, we’re working on 700-1200 individual garments, and we have three full-time people tracing all that. There’s a lot of anxiety with weddings. Everyone’s heard a horror story. We’ve worked really hard over the last 18 years to take the stress out of the experience by having good communication, and allowing a minimum of 12 weeks. We regularly have everything done for the groom weeks before the dress is ready.
What trends are you seeing in occasion suiting?
As the workplace has become more casual, a lot of men see their wedding as an opportunity to get really dressed up. Some want to wear a tuxedo or tails, and really go all out. There’s been a trend over the last couple of years for brighter blues, but now it’s coming back to dusty, softer tones. Jacketing has become very textured, with boucles, shantung silks, a little bit of slub.
How are people styling their suiting?
For a while, it was all about the bow tie, the pocket square, double cuff shirt, contrast shoe, braces – very over-accessorised. It’s going back to being cleaner and simpler. We research what’s happening in bridalwear so we can integrate ‘difficult’ colours like lemons, pinks and peaches, and often develop a tie collection around that. It’s about complementing rather than matching.
Any advice for someone about to purchase their wedding suit?
A lot of people, especially if they’re organising the wedding themselves, get very fixated on minor details that most people don’t even notice. Get the big things right, and the small things take care of them- selves. A classic suit is always going to win the day.