Words and photography by Cedric Bardawil
Jake’s is a made-to-order menswear brand run by Jake Wigham who hand makes each item in his East London studio. He recently invited me to visit him at work to talk about his plans for the future and to see the process first hand.
Jake established himself working freelance for various tailors on Savile Row – his current studio is where he’d make their trousers. As work became less consistent last year and bespoke struggled with the pandemic, Jake decided it was now or never to set up on his own and transform the space: launching a made-to-order service at the end of 2020 with a series of handcrafted shirts and ties. He creates everything in his studio, from the drafting, cutting and sewing to pressing. For the shirts he uses real mother-of-pearl buttons and fine cloths with a focus on details: namely a soft, full collar-roll and a five-pleat cuff. As our conversation shifted between Ivy clothing and vintage outdoor wear to the future of Savile Row, he began finishing up a shirt he’d made for me: pressing it and manually stamping my name inside the collar: a tradition that has long been forgotten. At first, I noticed the cloth’s soft hand and of the hundreds of shirts I’ve tried on – an ongoing quest to find the perfect button-down, Jake’s cut stood out. The shape moulded to my shoulders with enough room in the body to leave some mystery and unlike so many contemporary shirt makers, he offers a custom sleeve length.
I popped my blazer back on, which Jake commented on. I explained it’s a 1960s Brooks Brothers that I picked up from Crowley Vintage in Brooklyn last year. We discussed the amount of handwork that went into the old Brooks Brothers clothes, and the sad demise of the brand. We came to agree that buying vintage isn’t always successful, and can be disappointing once postage, customs and import fees have been paid for something non-returnable that doesn’t fit. There’s clearly still place for a fresh take on traditional clothing. We run through Jake’s plans to produce trousers, jackets and suits. He pulls out cloth samples he has for trousers, made of a heavy, sanded cotton. He’ll start with versatile colours: khaki, olive, navy and grey before moving onto bolder designs like patchwork corduroys.
In Jake’s previous job as a freelancer, he made hundreds of trousers but rarely had the opportunity to meet the client. Taking control of the start to finish of business at Jake’s has finally allowed him to change this. He is determined to make a success of the upcoming collection to enable him to reinvest in developing his range. He goes on to show me three shirt samples which are coming in the next collection: a deep blue Chambray, a “fun shirt” made up of various cuts of Oxford university stripes in different colours, each shirt unique, and finally a bright green Chambray, inspired by the shirt Miles Davis wore on the cover of Milestones. All a great reminder that well-made classics never tire.