a chat with e. tautz

London Show Rooms in Hong Kong

Patrick Grant (E. Tatuz): Oh, I see you have an iPhone.
Electric sekki:  Yes, I've been sucked into the Apple vortex.  What kind of phone do you have?
Patrick Grant (E. Tatuz): I have a Blackberry.  Like everyone else, you've been brainwashed by Apple!
Electric sekki: Well, Samsung's actually getting quite popular too now, especially in Hong Kong.
Patrick Grant (E. Tatuz):  I actually work for Samsung at the moment, too.  They own a big business called Bean Pole and I design for them.  
Electric sekki: Wow, so you're involved in a lot of different projects, then, because I know that you're also involved in managing a bespoke tailor on Saville Row called Norton & Sons?
Patrick Grant (E. Tatuz): Well, Norton & Sons and E. Tautz are brother and sister.  I run both of those.  E. Tautz is ready-to-wear and Norton & Sons is only bespoke.  At Norton's we make only 250 suits a year by hand, in our workshop.  They start at about 4,000 pounds.  It's beautiful and amazing; it's about the last tailor on Saville Row that still only makes bespoke handmade pieces.  Almost all the others have some other off-the-rack things.  At Norton's, everything is done in these beautiful wools, it's classically proportioned, classically cut; E. Tautz is a little more ...
Electric sekki: Modern?
Patrick Grant (E. Tatuz): Well, I hate to say that, because Norton's is actually very modern.  Something made for you by hand, specifically for you; I think that's a very modern idea.  Tautz is more playful, I think, is what it is. There's a more obvious sense of humor in these clothes, there's more colour, it changes more rapidly.  But at the heart of everything we do is this same sense of trying to make everything as well as we can.  Tautz is a fashion collection, so every season it will look different and, at its heart, it will always have beautiful tailoring, beautiful construction and quite simple shapes, but every season you'll get a feel for a different mood.  They share a lot in terms of DNA and they share a lot in terms of the materials that we use.  The histories are similar, too.  

Patrick Grant (E. Tatuz): The reason we launched E. Tautz is because people were asking for Norton's ready-to-wear.  Especially in Japan.  You know, Beams were really instrumental in launching E. Tautz because they just kept asking for ready-to-wear from Norton's.  We did a project where we did some bags and knitwear for them, but then we realised we didn't really want to do all that stuff as Norton & Sons because Norton & Sons is a bespoke house.  Tautz had always been a sporting tailor and had experience doing sports clothes back in the 1890's--when sport was a bit different.  Back when sport involved riding horses and shooting things!  I restarted Tautz and that is the ready-to-wear brother to Norton & Son's.  I run the two businesses.  Edward Tautz, the founder of E. Tautz was a very innovative tailor in the 1800's.  He invented a lot of the shapes that we have now, especially in trousers and britches; he invented the knickerbockers.  He was responsible for deconstructing the very stiff britches and using materials in a different way.  He was constantly pushing the mills that he used to make these new cloths that would behave differently.  In a sense, we try and maintain a bit of his sense of adventure, but always within the constraints of classical good-taste.  That's the challenge!
Electric sekki: Do you feel pressure, then, to always be reinventing, as Edward did?
Patrick Grant (E. Tatuz): We feel the pressure to produce a beautiful collection each season.  Actually, you know what?  I feel the pressure from all these guys from the London SHOW Rooms!  Coming in here and seeing what all these guys do, you're like, "S*it!  This is really good.  I need to work harder to make our stuff better."  Being part of this generation of London menswear is making us all better, because there are a lot of really good people here and it creates this healthy competition. E. Tautz has improved so much in the last five seasons and it's because I'm always looking at all the good stuff everyone else is doing!  We've got a much better chance succeeding all together than we have individually.  People love a "wave" and at the moment menswear is dominated by Italian and French houses, but if we're going to be successful, there has to be this idea that, "This is the floor where all the Brit designers are."  Everyone in the showrooms has a specific point-of-view and I think that we all have to play to that strength.  London menswear is about innovation, history and freedom of expression.  That's what's going to make it all succeed.  We're all mates, as well.  We share suppliers, we share tips.  We help each other out when we can.  Matthew [Miller] uses the same knitwear supplier that we use, and now Tom Ford's copying us!

 Electric sekki: Tell us a bit about the muse of the collection - would you call him a muse? - the explorer.
Patrick Grant (E. Tatuz): Oh, William Thessiger!  Obviously, always there will be something that sparks the conversation that becomes the collection and, this time, it was Sir William Thessiger, who's a guy whom I have known about for many, many years.  He's a total boy's hero.  He grew up in North-East Africa, he went to Britain and studied at Oxford University, he was a boxing "blue", he was captain of Oxford University boxing.  He was a real man's man, but he was actually gay, though he kept that very much to himself.  He then went off and spent a lot of time in the diplomatic service in Ethiopia and the Sudan.  He travelled widely and in a very hard, very basic way; he never used motorised transport, he would travel as the locals would travel.  You know, he would eat a date and have a thimble of water a day; that kind of thing.  He was a tough man.  He fought with the Ethiopian Resistance against Mussolini, then he fought with the SAS against Rommel--literally, he personally fought against Rommel in the desert.  He lived in all these different places and always adopted the clothing of the local people.  So the cape in the collection is adopted from a traditional Ethiopian cape with a military twist to it.  The wide-leg pyjama pant is a take on Middle Eastern pyjamas.  The kaftan is very obvious.  The collarless shirts with the multi-stitch detail, those came from him; those were the kinds of clothes he wore.  The colours came from a contemporary photograph of two priests sitting on a rock in Ethiopia.  They are wearing head-to-toe the same colour; jodhpurs, kalaba, shawl, hat, all in bright yellow and all in bright pink.  That's where those colours came from.  The face print on the tees came from a picture of an old man sitting outside a house and he's wearing this beaded sunhat and his glasses are a bit squint; that's where the print came from.  The other interesting thing about the collection is that Thessiger wrote about meeting these warriors from a tribe called the Afari tribe. When someone from the Afari tribe kills a man in battle, they cut his testicles off and they wear them around their belt.  So, as they become more successful as warriors, they literally have belts made from all these testicles!  The reason we did the medal ribbon trousers is a nod to the idea of wearing your "colours" around your waist.  So, you see, we don't take ourselves too seriously!  We're serious about the clothes, but we have a sense of humor in the clothes, as well.  


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