Sunday, February 08, 2009

Children of a "Lesser" god: A chance encounter with Henry Lesser

Pardon the pun on the movie title but I could not resist. If you are customer of Savile Row, the chances are very good that you are in effect a sartorial child of Lesser. In other words, you have already ordered (or will at one point) a suit made up in Lesser cloth. Even luckier still, you may have had the good fortune of having a suit made up in Lesser's Golden Bale cloth.

During one of my visits last week to Chittleborough & Morgan, Mr. Lesser happened to drop in by sheer coincidence and he was a very charming fellow to talk to. Lesser was wearing incidentally a very well-made and handsome looking overcoat. He was in town making his rounds to the various tailoring houses that day and also to attend the Merchant Taylors' annual festival dinner that evening. I didn't ask but I believe he was updating his books at each tailor. Below is a photo of Messrs. Morgan (left) and Lesser (right).

Joseph Morgan & Henry Lesser

During our wide-ranging chat, Joseph Morgan and I began talking about heavyweight cloths at which point Morgan pulled out a Lesser heavyweight (18 oz I believe) cloth book as an example, noting how marvelously they made up. Lesser nodded approvingly, saying in sotto voce that it feels a bit "like leather." Unfortunately, the cloth is no longer in production. They are only three bunches from the book left in stock - a medium gray and two blues I believe.

The surety and fluidity with which Lesser speaks about his fabrics captures I think a reassuring consistency between his fabric's quality and his business philosophy. This is a merchant that inspects every piece supplied by their mills for defects like a pulled string, making a note of its position and length, and sending it back to the mill. Lesser may very well be the only cloth merchant in the business that conducts such an exhaustive quality assurance check. In the world of manufacturing, this is effectively a zero defects process (Six Sigma anyone?). It was a pleasure speaking with both Morgan and Lesser, giving me a fascinating peek into the small highly networked world of the Row and its ecosystem of suppliers and intermediaries.

It was a pity I wasn't able to attend the Merchant Taylors' annual festival dinner. Perhaps next year!

Updated 04/26/09


Anonymous said...

Are you sure it is the 16oz book, not the 18oz book?

sleevehead said...

I thought it was the 16oz book but you very well may be correct. I'll see if I can verify that.

sleevehead said...

Thank you for the correction and I corrected the blog entry. I did check with a distributor and the Lesser 16 oz book is alive and well. I must have misread the weight when I was in the shop.