Charlie Baker-Collingwood, owner of Henry Herbert Tailors, shares his insights on London styles. (Photo: Courtesy of Henry Herbert Tailors)
Charlie Baker-Collingwood is a London tailor, but not as you might imagine. Based in a shopfront workroom in laid-back, student-heavy Holborn, Baker-Collingwood’s business — Henry Herbert Tailors — offers a modern, customer-friendly antidote to the sometimes stuffy world of British tailoring. This is Savile Row without the snobbiness.
Baker-Collingwood, 38, arrives for consultations on a custom-built Vespa, and the company is named for the man who was master of the royal wardrobe for both King Charles I (who lost his head in the English civil war) and his son and eventual successor, Charles II (who didn’t).
Henry Herbert has a special relationship with the London Marriott Hotel Park Lane: Guests can book the Mr. Mayfair package, which includes a private consultation with Henry Herbert Tailors in their suite.
Marriott TRAVELER sat down with Baker-Collingwood to discuss tailoring, how a gentleman travels and how best to enjoy yourself in the British capital.
What’s so special about Henry Herbert?
We do things differently. The old Savile Row firms are a bit stuffy and intimidating; they can make you feel a bit of a wally if you’re not careful. We work Monday to Friday, from first thing in the morning to very late at night; these Saville Row firms don’t do that, but customers want that now. We fit around what Marriott guests want, whether that’s alterations or suits and shirt-making, or they just want to find out what we do, we’re happy to help.
What should a gentleman wear to travel?
For a flight I would definitely recommend comfort over style, although you could combine the two using lighter-weight and crease-resistant fabrics. For those wishing to dress more smartly for the occasion, we recommend something made with the fabric producer Holland & Sherry‘s range of Crispaire suiting fabrics. They’re designed for the modern traveler so that they spring back in to action on arrival.
What are the must-pack items for a businessman visiting London?
The really important point is that there are no rights or wrongs; it’s so important to feel confident in what you’re wearing. That said, you need a two-piece suit. It should always be immaculately pressed; it should be clean and tidy and well-cut. If you’ve got that, that’s a good start.
In terms of color, the classic navies and grays are a safe bet. You don’t want to walk into a meeting in an inappropriate color — an orange or bright green, say. We do make those kind of suits, though, because some customers like them.
We have quite a mild climate here in London — there’s not a huge difference between the seasons. Because of that, our suits are 12 ounces; it’s a good medium weight that you can wear throughout the year here.
I would also recommend a raincoat because of the unpredictable London weather, a smart sports jacket for evenings out at London’s array of fancy restaurants, and the name of a good tailor — in case you need any last-minute alterations when you get here!
Why should customers come to you?
We guide our customers through the tailoring process. It can be quite a big thing because there are so many fabrics to choose from: Some people say that there are 1 billion! Now I don’t think it’s quite that many, but there are a lot; we steer them through the colors and patterns and weights, the style options — turn-ups or no turn-ups, for example — and help them get something that looks good.
Which is the key look for London?
The current trend is for slim-fitting, two-button suits. Fashions change, though. In the ’90s, you had the one-button suit, in the ’80s it was double-breasted, and in the ’70s everyone had wide lapels. Perhaps in 10 year’s time it’ll be something different. At the Royal Academy, where they’re always experimenting with ideas and concepts, they’ve made fabric from metal. You might have that in 10 years!
Where do you like to go for a meal in London — with a drink afterward?
I’m not sure I’m the right person to ask: My friends always say that the places I enjoy are not the places to go! I like to eat at Sexy Fish in Berkeley Square; it’s great because you’re right in the heart of Mayfair. After, you could go to Mr. Fogg’s, which is right around the corner. It’s a great cocktail bar, and it’s open until quite late.
Have you seen any good shows at London theaters recently?
I recently saw Wayne McGregor‘s Woolf Works at the National Opera. He brings ballet to life in a three-dimensional way; it’s done now, but he’s really at the top of his game at the moment, so don’t miss him if he’s on in London while you’re here. I also enjoyed “Showstopper!” on Shaftesbury Avenue; it’s a real feel-good production.