Paul Kruize: Bespoke in the World of Casual Menswear
Who are you and what do you do?
I am Paul Kruize. I am a tailor of informal garments, such as shirts and worker jackets, specializing in jeans. I started in 2014.
Why are you a tailor today? Have you always been a tailor? Can you tell me the story that led you to become the tailor you are today?
In my early twenties I made all sorts of clothes and was self-taught at sewing. I took some courses in pattern making using the Rundschau, and learned how to draw trousers, a jacket and a coat.
I went to art school to study fashion next, but it was soon confirmed that 'fashion' was not my thing. In hind sight I should have done tailoring instead, but where I lived, there were no tailors left and I wasn’t really aware of the possibilities regarding tailoring. At art school I switched from fashion to furniture design, the latter being less trend based as opposed to fashion. I graduated in furniture design and worked as a self-employed designer for years.
At a certain point in time, around 2013, the urge to go back to my roots popped up. I wanted to work from start to finish on something again, being in charge of the whole process. As a designer I did not make furniture myself. I bought a sewing machine and started sewing again, and worked out a plan. I realized classical tailoring was not an option anymore, given my age. I decided to focus on making jeans, not using the traditional industrial methods but by integrating bespoke. My old Rundschau patterns did not comply with what was needed to make a pattern for selvedge denim, so, with help, I made my own set up to make selvedge jeans from client's personal measurements. I also decided to only work on one machine, a single needle lock stitch. This meant I could not do any overlocking as was custom in jeans making. The construction of my jeans is designed not to have any open seams. The buttonholes I had to learn to sew by hand.
That was how I started. Since, I also have made shirts and worker jackets, following the same attitude as in my jeans making.
Where do you see yourself in five years? What projects do you immagine yourself having?
I hope I can continue to do what I do now. I work for local clients as well as clients from abroad. With my clients from abroad I use email and FaceTime to communicate. It would be nice to visit some cities to do a trunkshow in the future, to meet clients there and broaden my horizon.
Can you explain what bespoke process is like for one of your clients? Did COVID-19 have an affect on your business or how your operate?
Fortunately, the set up of my work proved to be suitable for COVID19. Most of my clients live abroad and can’t visit my studio. Through email we communicate and I help them to provide the measurements I need from them. If helpful we have a FaceTime session. This works very well, especially for jeans. For a shirt or a worker jacket I’d rather have the client visit me, or I send over a sample for a fitting.
Local clients come to my studio where I take their measurements and go over their wishes. I then draw a pattern and make a sample for them to try at a second visit. After that I cut and make the garment.
From what do you gain the most satisfaction in this trade? Working with clients? Fitting? Cutting? Why does it give you that satisfaction?
Having a client over at my studio is always a pleasure, but working with a regular client is especially great. Together you go through a process and develop a relationship. It is great to help someone build a wardrobe. I find you get to know each other, even without meeting, and get a chance to go further into detailing new garments.
What does the world of tailoring look like in 20 years? Do you see the number of tailors growing or increasing?
Though tailoring has diminished, I do see crafts coming back, particularly in the last 5 years. It seems people are showing more interest in crafts. They like to see where and how things are made. This could help tailoring increase in the future.
What are some of the difficulties of being a tailor? Do you see any sacrifices that need to be made?
The work is very time consuming. A pair of jeans can take up to 20 hours from start to finish. There is always tension between what a garment should cost and what you can ask for it. In the end the hourly rate is low. Working alone means a low output. To increase my production I would have to outsource or employ someone but that would be too costly and too far off my way of working. It is a one-on-one job, me and the client, so I deal with it. In the end, it is the best job in the world.
How are you able to balance your personal life with your work life? Have you experienced burnout? If so, what specific changes have you made in order to organize your life in a way that you don’t burn yourself out?
I have no problem in balancing. I work from a home studio but I have no problem keeping things separated. Working on my own I feel I can work at my own pace. My clients are very patient and there is no pressure to deliver faster than is reasonable. Things are ready when they are.
What do you see as some of the most difficult processes in tailoring? What makes them difficult?
Creating the best fit is always the challenge. Especially for a new client and there is always room for improvement. This is frustrating but at the same time, it is what keeps you going. It’s an ongoing process.
What advice do you have for apprentices today?
Observe, ask and practice.
What advice do you have for those training apprentices today?
I don’t have apprentices, so I couldn’t tell.
What advice do you have for the current and future clients of bespoke clothing?
Find the right balance between challenging your tailor and respecting his style. The first garment should be good, probably better than any RTW, but the second and third will even be better. So be patient.
From where do you get the most inspiration? Why? How do you apply it to the clothing that you produce?
I draw my inspiration from tailoring, style magazines, and 'making of' videos. Seeing work from tailors inspires me to improve my skills and try out new methods. It broadens my horizon. Details I like may end up in a future garment.
How did you learn cutting? What were the resources you used? Books? Teachers?
I took some courses in pattern making. I also have a few books, but it is mainly a matter of practicing and trying to improve every single time you do a new pattern. I am learning every day!
What are the differences in the jeans that you make compared to some of the other makers like Dawson Jeans?
Most jeans makers work the traditional way, using a series of often vintage machines as are typically used in the industry. They use overlocking and buttonhole machines, felling machines and chain stitch machines. Also they work from standard sizing.
My approach is different. I only use one single needle lock stitch machine. I hand fell the seams or use the selvedge in a constructive way. I make a one piece selvedge fly and the buttonholes are sewn by hand. And all jeans are made from a hand drawn pattern that is made from the client’s personal measurements. My approach to making jeans is from a tailoring perspective.
When did you start to consider yourself a true tailor? What makes a true tailor?
If at all… I started out as a 'jeans maker' in 2014. Later I also started making shirts and worker jackets. My techniques became better and I began to do more hand stitching and finishing. I became more aware of my style and my skills. Now I warily call myself a tailor, but not in the classical meaning as I don’t do canvassed suits. I'm more a tailor of informal garments.
Why will tailors talk deeply about the craft with journalists but not necessarily with apprentices?
They may not want to give away secrets of their trade? They seek appreciation from the press? It is of course a way of telling the public what you do through journalists.
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