A Cut Above The Rest – An Interview With Bullish Bespoke Tailoring
With 3 generations of expertise under their belt, Bullish Bespoke are a tailoring business that knows a sharp suit. But how do you stay relevant yet remain true to your heritage in an ever changing fashion industry? David and Daniel tell us about “going beyond the bespoke” and tell us about THAT coffee bean jacket.
Where did your story start?
Daniel: David Bullen my father, started in the bespoke tailoring industry in 1977 under the guidance of his father Geoffrey Bullen who had been in tailoring since the late Forties. Having worked in London’s famous Savile Row, he decided in 1997 to start his own company based in Leeds.
Having always enjoyed thinking out of the box, the idea of tailoring garments with highly personalised detailing and unique images on linings was born. The name Bullish Bespoke is derived from our names, and the word Bullish meaning ‘confident and passionate’.
Why did you move to Leeds?
We moved to Leeds because of its tailoring heritage, the proximity of some of the world’s finest cloth mills in Yorkshire and the location. Clients connect us via the website, social media and word of mouth. We visit people throughout the UK and Europe in their offices or homes. In this way they consult with their clients and design and measure them in a relaxed and familiar environment.
Do you think bespoke tailoring is now appealing to a new generation?
As the high street can only offer garments that are mainly mass produced in large factories, the appeal of something unique and individual becomes more sought after. A bespoke suit, can make an individual whatever their age, feel confident and unique.
How have you innovated to keep tailoring relevant?
The advent of social media is a crucial tool in creating awareness of our unique and individual service. It allows us to communicate with potential customers and keep them up to date with new styles, cloths, ideas and recent projects. It also allows us to be inspired by the creative media we see. The future expansion and development of our business now depends on how we embrace new technology.
Who or what is your biggest influence?
Daniel: Personally my biggest influence is my Father. He has taught me everything I know in tailoring and continues to teach me more. When I was younger I used to travel with my Father and visit clients which opened a whole world of fashion. These experiences revealed which direction I wanted to take in life. Personally, it taught me to represent pride and self respect in the clothes that I wear. A lot of people ask how we manage to work together as father and son but it works because of the respect I have for him.
David: When I was growing up, I would walk around the workroom. There would be suits, coats and jackets in hundreds of styles for all kinds of different people, from businessmen, actors and even Tommy Cooper! My Dad influenced me totally. He was always passionate about tailoring. It was very much a part of my life, even before I left school.
Have you worked on any interesting collaborations within Leeds?
We collaborated with Leeds based Illustrator and website designer Tom Pitts who helped brand Bullish and design the website. We also collaborated with Photographer Joseph Dawson. His innovative ideas made sure remained relevant and didn’t look outdated. The photo shoot also features Layne’s Espresso owner Dave Layne who’s perfectly sculpted beard complimented our suits. He also let us film his staff at work for our new website video. It’s safe to say Bullish Bespoke and coffee are very fond of one another!
We also like great coffee shops at Shlur. Is it right that you made a three piece suit for the London Coffee Festival?
That’s True! We were supporting an Artist called David Christiaan who entered a painting into the London coffee festival art exhibition. It was a hyperrealism painting of coffee beans (a genre of painting and sculpture resembling a high-resolution photo). He invited us to see the exhibition and we ended up using his art on the lining of a suit and also on the back of a waistcoat. It certainly turned a few heads!
What has been the most satisfying moment as a business so far and why?
Our most satisfying moments always come when fitting a client’s suit. There is something really special about putting on a bespoke well tailored suit.
We recently made a suit for the father of a London Slade college of Art student Michael Dryden. He asked for a piece of his son’s art on his suit lining. At this point we realised that we were creating emotion through our tailoring – going beyond the bespoke!
Describe your typical client for us.
A typical client for us is a successful business person or entrepreneur who like to express their individuality and regard their clothing as statement of their success. Our other clients include football players, sports and television personalities.
What happens after a client steps through your door – take us through the process of creating the perfect suit for them.
We sit down and learn a little bit about their lifestyle to give us a little insight into their world. From this we start to think of creative ideas. Together we choose from hundreds of top end materials and draw out the specific design and features we are discussing. It can take more than twenty different measurements to get the perfect fit.
So what would you say are the essential ingredients of a great suit?
Firstly it’s all about the cut. Secondly, the attention to detail and unique features. Often these are hidden yet add value to the wearer. Thirdly, it’s a great cloth.
So you are launching a new website. Tell us more about your plans for the future?
Apart from the UK, we currently visit clients in all of the Scandinavian countries, The Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Monaco, Spain and The Channel Islands, after this the natural progression for us would be perhaps to branch out to the United States where we see the potential for our unique service.