Background: A native of Co. Monaghan, Rory Duffy is an award-winning Savile Row tailor who owns Rory Duffy Handcraft Tailor in New York.
How did you become interested in men's bespoke tailoring?
“My grandfather was a tailor. I always knew when I was growing up as my mother spoke of him often. She learned some basic skills from him and passed them onto me.”
“I always sewed as a child, especially when I joined the army reserve at age 17. Before I had any formal training I was making hats and hoods and camouflage jackets. When I turned one of my mother’s dresses into a jacket for a costume party, my girlfriend urged me to join the trade. When I left secondary school I decided to become a tailor and sought out a master to train me.
“At 30, I am the youngest in this industry with my skill set, training and experience.
“I strove to win the Golden Shears [the Oscars of the tailoring world] from the first moment I heard of the competition. On the 16th of March 2009 in front of my parents, my master and peers, I accept the most coveted award in the tailoring industry. It meant everything to me.”
Which garment do you prefer working on?
“My favorite garment is the dress coat/evening tail coat. I specialized in coat making/ jacket making at Henry Poole, and while there I learned how to cut and make tail coats like the one I made for the competition. A senior tailor in New York I spoke to told me I was probably the only tailor in New York who knew how to make one.
“The principle of cut used for the dress coat is the same as I used for my suit jackets, and that's what set them apart in the industry. Cut to fit onto the neck and close over at front when worn. It's a waist coat with a hollowing at the side waist which accentuates the drape in the chest.
“I put a little skirt on the hip to give the coat some flare. The armhole is cut high and the sleeve full so the wear has optimum movement.”
Who are your fashion influences?
“There is little about mainstream fashion that excites me, constantly moving from one fad to another in order to sell clothes and keep the costumer interested.
“Tailoring is more wholesome than that. We try to create a classic, timeless suit that's never out of fashion. I frequent vintage stores looking at old suits, their details, how they were made -- clothing from a time when men dressed like gents.”
You once helped tailor a suit for Al Gore. What was that like?
“Al Gore is a client of a New York-based custom tailor who I worked for at the time. He ordered three suits and I made each of the jackets. The cloth was cut by the head tailor and I made the coats through to buttonhole and pressing.
“I was invited to each of the fittings to assess the progress and carry out the alterations. A well tailored suit gives a man status in any room.”