Online tailoring firm Cad and Dandy won the Bento Entrepreneur of the Year Award at this year’s prestigious Macworld Awards. The award is designed to recognise innovative and daring entrepreneurs from around the UK whose actions have had a dramatic effect on their own lives and in turn may have impacted the industry they work in.
Apple-owned FileMaker, who back the awards, singled out Cad & The Dandy and business partners Ian Meiers and James Sleater for the highest praise. Macworld caught up with Ian and James to find out more about Cad & The Dandy?
Q. When did you realise there was a niche in the market for Cad & The Dandy?
I think it had always been a burning passion for me to set up a tailoring company but it was after I had offered advice to a friend who was looking for tailored suits that I realised that there were few people in the market actually doing it well. I was determined to make a high-end garment available to more people without the lofty price tag.
Q. What's the difference between machine-stitched suits and bespoke tailoring?
Well, legally nothing, which means people can sell a "bespoke" suit that has little in common with a true bespoke product. That’s one of the reasons we try and educate our customers to tell them of the benefits of hand stitching, its longer life span, its ability to improve fit and shape and how they will have more fittings which allow us to build the suit around them. Everyone knows you can go to Thailand, Vietnam or Hong Kong and buy a cheap suit and that is the grade of suits many people sell here for anywhere up to £1000. A truly bespoke suit has around 50 hours of hand stitching, as do our full bespoke suits. We do offer a machine grade suit, however, but this is still superior in terms of pattern making and construction compared to most of the tailors trying to pass themselves off as "bespoke" tailors.
Q. Do customers really notice the difference?
Absolutely, with the increased comfort, fit, shape and lifespan; once you have had a hand-stitched suit very few people go back.
Q. What would you say to anyone who has never considered buying a bespoke suit?
Give it a go, our prices start at a high street price but you are certain of a perfect fit, the style you want and the choice of 1000's of cloths!.
Q. Do you think you have removed the stuffiness of buying a bespoke suit?
Absolutely, we have tried to break down the fear barrier many feel when toying with the idea of seeing a tailor, our online design tool enables people to see some of the options available before they come in. And when they do we try to be with our customers as we would be if we were having a pint in the pub. Indeed we even have a wine cooler for our customers for those days when a glass of wine helps!
Q. How do you maintain quality when you are working with a network of self-employed tailors?
We produce 70 per cent in our central workshop and they are all full time employees, however for those we produce in London we use our coat-makers who work exclusively for us but we pay "job work" which means if we have a barren few days we don't have the extra cost of salaries and when there is bountiful work we can also cope with the demand. Either way our customers will have their suits cut by the same cutter and made by the same coat maker. Quality is paramount to us and all of our workforce regularly engages in workshops and training. All of our workers have worked for established Savile Row companies and we have also begun our own apprenticeship scheme to train new tailors in a new workshop we have built just around the corner from our City shop.
Q. How has FileMaker helped in the day to day running of your business?
We are meeting with FileMaker this week to see if it can help our business.
Q. How did it feel winning the Macworld award?
It’s fantastic to be recognised for what we have achieved. Had someone asked us 12 months ago what we would like to have achieved we certainly wouldn't have thought we would have a presence on Savile Row, a City shop a new workshop and to simply make the volume of suits we do.
Q. Finally, can you share any future plans with the readers of Macworld for Cad & The Dandy?
We have a desire to bring full production back to the UK to create one of the UK’s largest suit making units. The greatest hindrance to this is the lack of skilled labour and that is why we are undertaking our apprenticeship scheme.
But fundamentally we want to continue our growth in the UK, making it easier for people to explore tailoring. We have also begun to look at opening up overseas in areas such as Switzerland and China, countries where we have either a strong client base or those where English brands are seen as the pinnacle.