I recently met Christopher Field who set up his bespoke shirt making company Guy Field London, in 2014.
It was fascinating to speak with Christopher about the development of his business and the process of producing the perfect shirt. Having worked previously for Thomas Pink in sales, and then going on to develop Emmett London’s made-to-measure department he has a firm understanding of the industry and clients expectations. In October 2014 he launched his own company, Guy Field, with the aim of producing the very best bespoke shirts in London, with an exceptional client experience.
Christopher is first and foremost a craftsman, he is an expert in the intricate details of bespoke shirt making, and personally oversees each shirt Guy Field produces from start to finish.
He explained the process to me. Christopher will first discuss with each client what they are looking for, what occasion the shirt it for, if it is for work or for play. He will then suggest some fabrics, he has around 2,500 – 3000 fabrics available, so there is a good amount of choice, Thomas Mason and Canclini are firm favourites. Trimmings are also decided on at this point, mother of pearl buttons mainly, but there is a plastic choice for vegans. Every shirt is personal, and it is up to the client, with guidance from Christopher, to decide on the fabric they feel most comfortable in, that is most suitable for the occasion. Robust fabrics such as an Oxford last around eight to nine years depending on lifestyle, cotton silks are more delicate. Most importantly all his fabrics are high quality, and good fabrics improve over time.
Once a decision has been made, he takes at least 12 measurements, along with photos, capturing a persons ‘angles’ and posture to ensure the very best fit. At this point precise details are imperative and this is when the craftsman’s knowledge is most important. The fit on the elbows on a shirt, for instance, has to be exactly right so that the shirt does not wear through. Every fabric makes up slightly differently, so it is also essential to take into consideration the final fabric to be used at this point. Christopher is very happy to come to you to take the measurements, or you can visit his office near Farringdon.
Once all the necessary measurements have been taken, a paper pattern is created which is sent to Italy, and a test shirt is quickly made up in basic poplin. This shirt is then fitted on the client and any adjustments are made – this could be adding half a centimetre to the length, or changing the pitch of the sleeve. The paper pattern is then modified, and the shirts will be cut from this final pattern in the workshop in Italy.
The shirt will take four to five weeks to make. Each shirt is made with single needle stitching, which is far stronger than double needle stitching, and the buttons are all attached by hand. Once the shirt is ready a final fitting will take place to ensure the fit it perfect. Further shirts can then be made from your unique paper pattern.
There is no minimum order at Guy Field, so if you decide you need a shirt for a specific occasion, Christopher is very happy to produce this for you. His website www.guyfield.com is the perfect first point of contact, it is fresh and easy to use, with drawings done by Christopher himself, it elevates a very traditional practice into the 21st century.
When he started out, Christopher already knew his preferred fabric mills, and started by sourcing samples from workshops and production houses in both the UK and Italy, eventually settling on a workshop in Italy. 90% of cotton mills are based in Italy, and they tend to produce garments with a more stylistic take on design.
Christopher is a highly knowledgeable shirtmaker, but he is also an artist, and spoke about his enjoyment of fashion. He has a wealth of experience working with a clients on bespoke shirts in traditional cuts and fabrics, but he is also open to new ideas. He is currently developing a brightly coloured patterned fabric to be made up into a traditional shirt design for a client. And I was also delighted to discover that not only can you have your shirt monogrammed, your initials or name sewn on, you can also have your buttons monogrammed.
His client base is international and requests are hugely varied. The Englishman does tend to like things that last, the Oxford is incredibly popular, with a robust weave and good structure it lasts for a long time. But he has recently made up shirts in baby aertex, a lattice weaved cotton and also some shirts in raw Japanese denim. It seems that once people are confident with the fit, they are willing to try something a bit different.
Since October 2014, Guy Field has since gone from strength to strength. Christopher has branched out into made-to-measure suits and also produces a range of accessories – his silk ties are for the man who ‘enjoys wearing an Hermes tie’. His ultimate aim is to produce a ready-to-wear collection, a range appropriate for his clients.
I greatly enjoyed learning about the shirt making process from Christopher, and hugely appreciate the time, dedication and precision in creating the finer details of a bespoke shirt. It was really exciting to learn that many men really do still favour a properly fitted shirt, women’s clothing has sadly moved so far away from this. And that Guy Field as a highly successful new business is moving forward with this craft, continuing with the very traditional practice of bespoke shirt making, and ensuring it is very much relevant in the 21st century.
Some favourites of the moment from Christopher:
Fabric: Brushed cotton from Canclini, a perfect fabric for a cold day
Fashion Designer: Brunello Cucinelli
Looking at: Paul Cezanne’s late work – hard to pick just one artwork!
Reading: Stalingrad, Antony Beevoor
Watching: Cafe Society, Woody Allen
Eating and drinking out: At the Savoy
Enjoying London: Anywhere that serves decent gelato
Inspiring place: Italy, for the sense of style and history
Parallel universe career: Restauranteur