Alexandra Wood, is a force to be reckoned with. The tailor from the internationally renowned home of the suit, Saville Row, was one of the first female tailors on the street and has dressed some of the highest profile political figures in the UK. She spoke to SHARP about her career.
How did you start out in the industry?
I actually started in womenswear at 18 selling oriental designs at Shanghai Tang. But I was always wandering downstairs to the tailoring department and they’d always be shouting at me to go back up.
Then there was an opening for Assistant Tailoring Manager and I absolutely jumped at the chance. I was young and a woman, but I managed to convince them and basically said that if I was a disaster they could get rid of me.
I absolutely loved sexing up people’s outfits. I later tried to set up my own business under Alexandra Crawford but it didn’t work, so I went back to the drawing board. I got headhunted to go and work for another company but by then I’d had my daughter and I didn’t want to work specific shifts, I wanted to have more freedom, so I decided to set up my own business.
What were the first steps you took?
Phase One was about getting a website and phase two was about getting people in my clothes. Some of our customers we’ve worked with for a number of years include high profile barristers and of course Chuka Umunna.
My first website was horrific, I’m obsessive about detail and I’ve had about five different websites. It cost a lot of money in the beginning but everything was really about learning what works and then perfecting it.
As my children got a little older I had the time to start really pushing the business and in the last two years it’s all gone from there.
We now have the showroom on Saville Row, which is appointment only, and stores in Shoreditch and Bishop’s Stortford.
Whenever I do something, especially like opening the stores, I tend to be really excited and then really negative and critical. I’ve put my life-savings into this and you really have to learn to break through your fear.
How does it feel when you see someone wearing your designs?
It’s like “Oh my god’ that’s mine!” It stops me in my tracks. It doesn’t matter if it’s a celebrity or someone well known. When you love your products it’s all about getting them out there and I’ve had years of hits and misses.
When I saw Chuka had made the GQ best dressed list and it said ‘his tailor Alexandra Wood’ in the piece, I was screaming! It was so amazing to see.
At the moment I’m working on a ready to wear collection that we’re currently fine tuning. I’m looking forward to seeing even more people wearing my clothes.
How has the industry changed since you started?
When I first started in the industry it was all vintage suits, and now things are changing to more wedding suits. People are getting showier and want more colour, a bit of peacock syndrome I would call it. During Henry VIII reign men were much more over the top and then it kind of died down. The industry seems to be coming back round.
What makes you different?
I was thinking about this the other day, there are a few more female tailors in the industry but a lot of them do both men’s and women’s tailoring, I do purely menswear tailoring because I love it.
I stand-out as a woman because I know how to make men look better from a female point of view. Men will come in and I’ll be like “no what are you wearing!”
I remember when I first told my parents about what I wanted to do and they were like “is it not a bit out there?” but I knew I could make Saville Row sexy. I wanted to bring it into the 21st century.
And that’s just what Alexandra Wood is doing, make sure to check out her designs here