Craft / October 2018

Finding Kit Blake: From Fake Names to the Real Deal

London-based tailoring brand Kit Blake draws on the heritage of Savile Row to create separates that are decidedly modern.

The Kit Blake navy wool overcoat, made with Loro Piana wool, and charcoal pleated trousers. Photograph by Jamie Ferguson.

Kit Blake isn’t a real person, although his presence on and around Savile Row has been felt for the better part of 20 years. In fact, he’s part of a group of fictional characters of the menswear world; pseudonyms used to hasten the time it takes to make a suit. “It’s slightly cheeky,” says Christopher Modoo, “but if you work on Savile Row and order a suit, staff go to the back of the pile. So everyone used to make up a name to put their suits through as to speed up the process.”

Kit, an abbreviation of Modoo’s first name, and Blake, the street he grew up on, was Chris’ alias while he was working on the Row. Decades later, it’s the name stitched into the designs of his own menswear label, as a hark back to his time working on the world’s most famous tailoring street.

Like many of the people who reside in the sartorial realm, Chris is deeply passionate about menswear, and has seemingly always been that way. His first job was at Selfridges, working in the tie department, where he waxed lyrical about tipping, knots and blades, and where his love for menswear flourished. “I absolutely loved it, I was just like a sponge,” says Modoo. From there, he went to Jermyn Street shirtmakers Thomas Pink, and then on to 40 Savile Row, which specialises in made-to-measure suits and where he learnt about fabric, fit and styling. He then moved to Ede & Ravenscroft to head up the house’s made-to-measure department, before moving to Chester Barrie in 2011, where he designed the house’s collections until 2017.

While much of Chris’ time over the past 20 years has been spent designing suits and jackets, it’s trousers that are the focus of his own label. But not just any trousers – these are old-fashioned, English, compete-with-jacket trousers, the kind his contemporaries on Savile Row would be proud of. They’re high-waisted with deep, forward-facing pleats, side adjusters, and tapering legs, which are long enough to allow for a generous turn-up. This traditional design is one that British tailors have always made, says Modoo, but which has, in recent years, become favourable in houses all around Europe. “I think Italian fashion houses have, in the last six or seven years, become very English. Italian trousers were always flat-front, low rise, slim – that was the Italian look. And if you wanted pleated trousers you had to go to an English tailor.”

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