Over the past few months I've been working hard on a new project looking at British craft and the art of the finishing touch. Inspired by Glenfiddich and their 21 year old whisky, I met and photographed 10 creators who each striving to perfect their art. This August I'm exhibiting 20 images at Lights of Soho, 35 Brewer St in London, showing work from the youngest tailor on Saville Row to a guitar craftsman with 60 years in the business.
If you're not in London and make it along for the show, here are some of my favourite images from the collection alongside the reason why I chose to document their work.
Cad and The Dandy, Tailor: Saville Row has a reputation across the globe for the highest quality tailoring but with only a handful left who actually make suits on site, Cad and the Dandy stands out as a brand with authenticity. Watching Demetri complete this suit jacket in the Saville Row atelier, I could see it's the level of care taken right down to the final button. The process of completing a bespoke suit may be labour intensive and slow but it's the many hours of hand finishing that makes a bespoke suit so desirable.
London Cloth Company, Weaver and Cloth Maker: Inspecting each thread in a roll of 100 meters of fabric sounds excessive to an outsider but to Daniel, the founder of London Cloth Company, it's the only way to sign off an order. Daniel is a young man who stands alone in the digital generation, learning a technique that is hundreds of years old. Starting the company in rescuing a rusting loom from an old barn in rural Wales, he ended up aquiring, dismantling and reassembling machines that hadn’t been touched for decades. In the UK there are but a handful of weavers left and certainly no one who has approached it in the way Daniel has, resulting in a roster of clients from every corner of the luxury market.
Laird and Co, Hatters: This independent specialist in headwear have built a name for themselves for their attention to quality. As all their hats are handmade, it's the finishing touches that make the product stand out. Shooting someone who both loves what they do and has amassed such an impressive level of knowledge is truly inspiring. Completing the classic trilby with ribbon and feather, she skilfully stitched with a precision and finesse that made me comprehend why they have a built such an impressive reputation.
Kevin Luchmun, Barber: The science of cutting hair is more complex than most can understand. Kevin has dedicated his life to learning these techniques which is why he's become one of the most in demand barbers in London. I've worked with him a number of times and have seen his art of finishing a cut in such a way that it could not be replicated by anyone else.
Allan Baudoin, Bespoke Shoemaker: Independent shoemaker Mr Baudoin moved into his footwear career with a desire to re-connect with traditional, century-old craft. Building each shoe piece by piece, hammered one nail at a time, the final product is so personal the term "fits like a glove" would be most apt. Meeting in his East London atelier, I was privy to some obscure finishing touches that only an artists eye would appreciate.
Shaun Gordon, Tiemaker: At the forefront of a new movement in menswear is Mr Shaun Gordon. Currently the growth is the menswear market is three times that of their female counterpart and the hand-crafted ties that Mr Gordon create is an indication why. An appreciation for skill and quality in the items he consumes is returning to the average man and Shaun Gordon's ties are the physical representation of that. He hand cuts each piece of silk, pressing and stitches the final article to perfection which has resulted in a range of accessories that stand the test of time.
Glenfiddich, Whisky Maker: With over a million casks in the distillery, it was fascinating to learn that each one is still screened by hand and nose. Here Mark Thomson draws a sample using the dipping dog to test the whisky rate of maturation and quality. It’s a pain staking job but that Glenfiddich are strict they won’t trade for mechanisation.
Pez and Pencil, Illustrator: Professional designer, illustrator and lettersmith, Pez has grown a reputation for a deep understanding of craftful lettering. Photographing him create a unique painting for this exhibition, I could see why he's become so well known in the industry. With a steady hand and laser-sharp precision he applies the final stroke on the canvas.