Chris Georgiou, Bespoke Tailor
“I’ve worked seven days a week for forty-five years – each morning I come in about half eight and stay until seven o’clock,” tailor Chris Georgiou assured me, “If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t do it.”
Contributing Photographer Colin O’Brien & I were standing in his tiny tailoring shop situated in one of the last quiet stretches of the Kings Cross Rd. “You don’t want to retire,” Chris advised us, thinking out loud and wielding his enormous shears enthusiastically, “The bank manager round the corner retired and he’s had three heart attacks in three years and he now he takes thirty-five pills a day. He came to see me. ‘Chris, never retire!’ he said. A friend of mine, a tailor who worked from home, he retired but after a couple of years he came to see me, ‘Chris,’ he said, ‘Can I come and help you for a couple of days each week? I don’t want any money, I just need a reason to walk down the road.’”
Chris shook his head at the foolishness of the world as he resumed cutting the cloth and thus Colin & I were assured of the unlikelihood of Chris ever retiring. And why should when he has so many devoted long-term customers who appreciate his work? As we discovered, when a distinguished-looking gentleman came in clutching an armful of striped shirts that matched the one he was wearing and readily admitted he was a customer of fourteen years standing. Thus it was only a brief interview that Chris was able to grant us but, like all his work, it was perfectly tailored.
“I started out to be tailor at twelve years old, to learn this job you have to start early and you need a lot of patience to hold a needle. My mother was a very good dressmaker and she made shirts, that’s where I got it from. In Cyprus, when you finish school at twelve years old, you must choose a trade. I always liked to dress smart, so I said, ‘I’m going to be a tailor.’ I came from a poor family and I couldn’t have gone to college.
So learnt from a tailor in our village of Zodia. First, I learnt to make trousers and then I learnt to make a jacket, and then it was time to change. After that, I went to another place and said, ‘I know how to make jackets.’ I told lies and I got the job, and I started to learn the art of tailoring. Then I came here in 1968, under contract to a maker of leather wear in Farringdon Rd but, after a year, I told my boss I was going off to do tailoring. And I went to several tailors to see how they do it in England and I bought this shop from one of them in 1969, just a year after I arrived. At first, I used to get jobs from other tailors doing alterations and then I acquired my own customers. 95% of them are barristers and I have never advertised, all my customers have come through recommendations.
When I make a suit, it’s not for the customer, it’s for the people who see the suit. That’s my secret. They wear their suits in chambers and the others ask them where they get their suits. My customers come from the City. It pleases me when you do something good, satisfy your customer and they leave happy. You can’t get rich by tailoring but you can make a good living. I’ve made a lot of suits for famous people whom I’m not at liberty to mention but I can tell you I made a dinner suit for Roger Daltrey, when he got an award for charity work from George Bush, and I made a suit for Lord Mayhew. He brought two security guards who stood outside the shop. I made suits for both his sons and he asked them where they got their suits. He used to go to Savile Row but now he comes here.
I don’t go out for lunch, I eat food prepared by my wife that I bring with each day from East Finchley. She doesn’t see too much of me, that must be why my marriage has lasted forty years.”
“When I make a suit, it’s not for the customer, it’s for the people who see the suit”
“To learn this job you have to start early and you need a lot of patience to hold a needle”
“It pleases me when you do something good, satisfy your customer and they leave happy”
Photographs copyright © Colin O’Brien
Chris Georgiou, 120 Kings Cross Rd, Wc1X 9DS
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