How to find the perfect bespoke jacket for the shooting season
These bespoke fashion houses are shooting to kill in the fashion stakes
The start of the grouse season is heralded as the Glorious Twelfth, a key date in the British countryside calendar, when some of UK’s most affluent, experienced and well- connected shots head to the moorlands for a day of shooting with family and friends. This wild bird is considered one of the toughest to shoot – reaching speeds of up to 70 miles per hour it’s flight is fast and unpredictable – and so the grouse hunt starts the British game season off with a real bang. Pun fully intended.
Attending such a highly anticipated sporting event is, naturally, as much a social event as it is a display of skill, and so demands the appropriate attire. And what could ruffle a few better feathers among your style-savvy comrades than a handmade suit from Savile Row tailor Dege & Skinner?
Established in 1865, family-owned Dege & Skinner is one of the most respected tailors on Savile Row, earning a Royal Warrant from The Queen. The house is headed up by managing director William Skinner (pictured below). A shooting man himself, Skinner understands first-hand what a gun travelling to the grouse moor needs.
“Our shooting suits have our trademarked ‘Phitwell Back’, designed in the 1930s by my grandfather,” Skinner tells Tempus. “He created it after his clients commented that they wanted a bit more comfort when shooting. By integrating a pleat on either side of the back of the suit jacket, and then integrating an elasticated thread connecting the pleats and lining, he allowed for expansion in the fabric when you take position to shoot. Then, when you bring the gun back down again, the elastic pulls the pleats back in together, thus maintaining the original shape of the jacket – and our customer’s sartorial elegance all round.”
Not only does the bespoke tailoring allow for this ingenious feature, but means that suits can be made to last – an important consideration for Dege & Skinner’s clientele, many of whom will shoot for more than 30 days a year throughout the season.
While various combinations are available for shooting suits, the most common by far is a jacket, waistcoat and breeks (plus twos or plus fours). Fully bespoke suits also offer more subtle advantages to the style-conscious shooter, allowing subtle tweaks in shape and design to make a suit one’s own.
For these suits, it takes up to 60 hours over 12 weeks for tailors to hand-make in its entirety, and a Dege & Skinner suit can be expected to last for up to 20 years. For women shooters joining the hunt, bespoke suits offer an ease of tailoring that many stores can’t copy in the traditionally male-dominated sport. One such master tailor is Brita Hirsch of Hirsch Tailoring, who says a formal shooting suit for women is a perfect challenge of material, fit and style.
“Bespoke tailoring is all about the perfect fit, and the right materials,” she tells us, “Nowhere is the combination of both more relevant – and challenging - than when it comes to field wear.”
However, it takes more than fit to create the perfect shooting outfit as using the right materials is also key. The cloth should match the occasion by nature, it needs to be hard-wearing and weather resistant. For this reason tweed is the material of choice when it comes to outdoor pursuits. Most of the cloth used is from the UK, much of it from Lovat Mill in Scotland, which designed their 150th anniversary tweed.
If you don’t have the luxury of time, William Evans in St James’s is the place to go. This season, they launch their new St James’s tweed for men and for women which are available off the peg. British made, they are desirable for outwear due to the material being moisture-resistant and durable. e idea behind the new St James’s tweed is it’s young looking but with a traditional British tweed and fit.
William Evans also launched the new St James’s shotgun this season, a collaboration with Italian gun making giants Perazzi, known for their strength and reliability and the gun of choice of Olympic champions Peter Wilson (GB) and Jessica Rossi (Italy), who were Gold medalists in the male and female Double Trap events respectively at London 2012. This collaboration marks yet another stamp of sartorial elegance to the gaming season, a time to celebrate the wild harvest in impeccable, and timeless, style.