Where in London do you live and/or work?
I don’t actually live in London, but I visit clients in the capital at least twice a week and have been doing so for over 20 years. I live in a small village in Staffordshire, not far from Lichfield, and make the commute into London by train.
I have offices and a showroom situated in the West End near Savile Row, where I have created thousands of pieces for clients. My clients tend to work in finance and legal, media, the arts, sports and generally all walks of life. I meet them at my showroom, or I visit them in their home or place of work, which can be extremely useful when their schedule is full of work meetings or, if it’s a wedding, you need to bring all your groomsmen together for the all-important fitting.
The thing that gives me the most pleasure is meeting and getting to know new clients. I have such a varied range of clients throughout London and I love travelling around the city to visit them and conduct a personal consultation. It’s then that I find out about their lifestyles and get to know their personalities and what it is they want out of life and out of their clothes. Meeting them and designing bespoke outfits that fit with their personalities is without doubt the most satisfying part of what I do.
What’s your earliest memory of London, or what was your first impression of the city?
When visiting London as a child, I remember being struck by the grandness of it all – the black cabs, red buses, huge streets and buildings. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Now, as an adult, and working frequently in the city, that sense of awe has never really left me. London is a city that will always excite the senses and keep me inspired.
What makes London special to you?
In many ways I see London as the world’s capital city. As a leading global city in arts, education, entertainment, fashion, finance and many other sectors, London can provide so many opportunities for people and is the ‘central hub’ for leisure and entertainment. This is why so many people gravitate to the city and want to be part of the experience. Myself included.
As one of the world’s undisputed fashion capitals, London was always going to be special to me. I am fascinated by its history, culture, traditions, diversity and sense of style. It’s certainly a city to get dressed up for. Whether it’s a night out at one of the world’s greatest theatres, fine dining at one of the world’s greatest restaurants, or maybe a special meeting at a private club, London is a place to see and be seen. This is what makes it special to me and many of the clients I work with.
How would you describe London in three words?
World’s greatest city.
What’s your usual morning ritual?
When visiting London my usual routine would be: take the train from Birmingham International into London, take the tube to Bank and then walk to my offices, grab a coffee and get ready for my day. I love walking around London and, because I tend to get in quite early, it’s exciting to see the city starting to wake up and build up to its usual crescendo.
Since the pandemic, and obviously during the lockdowns, there were no visits to London and I really missed it. Thankfully, with lockdown being lifted, there is a sense of normality and routine that is coming back and my visits to London are getting back to their usual frequency. However, I have changed a little bit of my ritual. For obvious reasons, I now take a taxi to the office rather than the tube. I miss the walk but I try to make up for it during the day by staying on foot whenever I can. I think it’s the best way of experiencing the city.
What do you do to keep a good work-life balance?
As a tailor you have to accept that during the wedding season and periods running up to Christmas and New Year, you are going to be mega busy. However, I do have a young family and I know how important that work-life balance is. The good thing is that I control my own diary so when I need and want to take time out, I simply do it. I guess that’s the beauty of being self-employed. You call your own tune and you play to it when you want to. As long as my clients and family never suffer, I maintain a work-life balance that keeps everybody (including myself) happy.
What activities, habits or rituals have you found help you to maintain good mental health through challenging times?
I think I’ve always been OK at compartmentalising those parts of life that could drag you down. You can’t control the world. You can only try to exercise some control on those things that matter to you, such as looking after your family. During the pandemic, I think that’s where my focus has been. Being present and ready for my family has helped me keep my perspective on the things that I care about the most.
Are there any particular resources that you use, and would recommend, to help keep a positive state of mind?
I’ve never been the type of person who would do yoga or practice mindfulness. Not that there’s anything wrong with these things. They’re just not me. Because I spend a lot of time in the car visiting clients the length and breadth of the country, I tend to like listening to comedy podcasts. They keep me amused and entertained on the long journey and put me in a positive frame of mind.
London is a place to see and be seen. This is what makes it special to me and many of the clients I work with
What do you like to do to relax?
I love to get out into the great outdoors and go on long walks. We have a couple of dogs who are a constant source of entertainment and they accompany us on our various rambles. I like the fact that I live in a small village in a countryside setting. It’s a far cry from the buzz of London and I think it helps to rejuvenate me in between my visits to the city. During the summer I like to watch the cricket on the village green and then enjoy a meal at one of the local pubs. I suppose it’s a very British thing to do but, in a way, cricket typifies what we’re about. Any game where they take breaks to have lunch and tea will always get my vote!
What’s the best book you’ve read in the past 6 months?
I’m fascinated by British military history and tend to gravitate towards those kinds of books. Working in tailoring, many aspects of suits and clothing have their roots in military history and I think that’s where some of my interest comes from.
I recently read SAS Band of Brothers by Damien Lewis. This is true account of some of the extraordinary exploits of the SAS during WW2, and how they became involved in hunting down Nazi war criminals. It’s a fantastic read and a real-life thriller.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
‘Perfection doesn’t exist.’ You can only try to be the best at what you do.
What thought always puts you in a good mood?
Seeing a smile on my son’s face.
Adrian Barrows, known as The Bespoke Tailor, is an award-winning tailor with over 20 years of experience in the tailoring industry. His portfolio of clients includes City senior executives, chairmen of blue chip and FTSE companies, sportsmen and celebrities who want a discreet tailoring service. Adrian provides appointments at times and locations that work with his clients’ diary and travel commitments, be that at their place of work or in the comfort of their own home. Follow Adrian on Instagram @thebespoketailor and visit thebespoketailor.co.uk for further information
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