Meet the partner – Roberto Revilla

The working world is slowly emerging from behind their screens, conference calls and zoom meetings and re-entering the workplace. While some of us started running during COVID or even cycled on their smart bikes during meetings to stay active, lockdowns haven’t been kind to many of us. Where once our work clothes fitted perfectly, they now reveal a snugness that wasn’t there before. The comparative comfort of working in loungewear all day is slowly being replaced by the requirement for slightly more formal clothes than pyjamas.

We spoke to one of London’s finest tailors, Roberto Revilla, about how his clients are making that transition back into the office.

What drives you to give your clients the impeccable service you’re famous for?

Throughout my career whatever I’ve done, in whatever field I’ve worked in, I’ve always treated the company like it was my very own business. Now I actually have my own business it’s second nature to treat my clients like friends. But much more than that, it’s the appreciation that everyone is different. Perhaps it’s the nature of fine tailoring that makes it all the more evident that people’s needs, hopes, dreams come in all different sizes, and it’s that understanding which drives me to treat every client who walks through my door as if they are the only client I have that day. All my focus is on their requirements, what they’re looking to accomplish with an outfit, what image would they like to present and how they wish to feel.

What excites you about being a master tailor?

I grew up in the 80s, an unusually fast-growing child that was 6’ tall by the time I hit my early teens. Money was tight and my father worked so hard to keep a roof over our heads. My parents couldn’t afford to keep buying me new clothes as I grew out of them so quick, so hand-me-downs were often the garment of choice. Not hand-me-downs in the classic sense from older siblings, it was often my dad’s clothes from the 70s… wearing flares during the straight-legged style of the 80s was just a recipe for getting bullied!

So out of necessity I learned to alter unwearable clothes into something passable and much less likely to result in taunting. Witnessing first-hand the power that clothes had on not just outward appearance, but the immeasurable increase in confidence they gave and still give, no matter who or how old people may be, filled me with tremendous respect for wearing the right outfit for the right occasion. And even now, seeing the inner growth and pride a perfectly fitted suit or even pair of jeans can have on a person’s confidence reminds me daily why I do what I do.
A client once shared with me how it was thanks to the suit I made him that he met his now wife. Hard to believe I know, but he was approached in the airport by a ‘stranger’ who complimented his outfit, which began his new relationship. The elation you feel five years later when you’re designing his wedding suit is hard to comprehend.

What excites you about being a master tailor?

I grew up in the 80s, an unusually fast-growing child that was 6’ tall by the time I hit my early teens. Money was tight and my father worked so hard to keep a roof over our heads. My parents couldn’t afford to keep buying me new clothes as I grew out of them so quick, so hand-me-downs were often the garment of choice. Not hand-me-downs in the classic sense from older siblings, it was often my dad’s clothes from the 70s… wearing flares during the straight-legged style of the 80s was just a recipe for getting bullied!

So out of necessity I learned to alter unwearable clothes into something passable and much less likely to result in taunting. Witnessing first-hand the power that clothes had on not just outward appearance, but the immeasurable increase in confidence they gave and still give, no matter who or how old people may be, filled me with tremendous respect for wearing the right outfit for the right occasion. And even now, seeing the inner growth and pride a perfectly fitted suit or even pair of jeans can have on a person’s confidence reminds me daily why I do what I do.
A client once shared with me how it was thanks to the suit I made him that he met his now wife. Hard to believe I know, but he was approached in the airport by a ‘stranger’ who complimented his outfit, which began his new relationship. The elation you feel five years later when you’re designing his wedding suit is hard to comprehend.

What do you see as the next big thing in high end fashion?

It’s really hard to predict these things. And even harder to take into account global and even regional trends and styles, not to mention seasonal variations. But the pandemic has definitely had a major effect on how people dress and for what purpose.

Our business was forced to close during the lockdowns and we initially thought we would be made completely redundant by the pandemic. COVID forced people to shop more online, but a portion of our clientele grew frustrated with buying things that didn’t fit, and then not being able to return them resulting in wasted money and clothes. They started to ask me if I could make the things they were mostly wearing given I already had their measurements so they were confident anything I made for them would fit – jeans, polos, shorts, casual shirts… We looked at the resources we had and expanded our custom smart casual lines. We spent time optimising our website to help clients navigate and purchase more easily. The emphasis was definitely on comfort and style, more from the waist up for video calls. Now lockdowns are over and people are returning to normal, you might expect people to retain the comfort element, which is partially true, but there has been a big return to office attire as people are appreciating the value of looking professional and ready for business, yet still with the comfort element leading the way.

It’s the casual clothing for social occasions, which has taken some by surprise as it returns to normal. People are really appreciating the value and essence of ‘getting dressed up’ and ‘making an effort’ at the weekend and evenings. Because we were all denied our usual social gatherings for so long, people seem to be making up for lost time and treating themselves to something special.

From a tailors’ perspective things rarely change in the field. The classic two button, single breasted, notched lapel jacket is still the style that works best for most, whereas trousers with pleats are starting to make a comeback, as they’re more comfortable.

Technologically, again things have rarely changed in about 200 years. There are some tailors who sell the virtues of 3D scanning of clients’ bodies to design the ‘perfect-fit’ suit. But for me, tailoring is all about delivering that personal bespoke service, built up over 20 years in the field. Chatting to clients to find out what the outfit is for, how they wish to feel and what they hope to achieve with their look. Why would you want clothes that show you off all your imperfections? The skill of a tailor is to create clothes that put you in your best light, something a 3D scan will never be able to achieve!

Where do you hope to be in five years’ time?

We’re a family run business and it’s that bespoke personalised service which has kept my clients returning for years. We plan to hire as soon as possible in order to free up time to build our business and clientele by over 50% in the next 12 months. This will then allow us to look for a studio space outside of the workroom – we envisage a welcoming, collaborative zone where customers can come not only to get measured and make purchases, but also be educated and inspired as we work with industry partners to create curated events.

By the end of a 5 year period or sooner I want to have that space running successfully so that it can be replicated elsewhere. Whatever happens, I’m adamant that the quality of our service remains. However much we grow and expand the essence of what makes Roberto Revilla so special is paramount.

During lockdown I began a podcast called ‘Tailoring Talk’. It was originally meant to be mostly talking about tailoring and all things fashion related, but almost immediately that went out the window and it’s mostly about me tailoring conversations with a range of entrepreneurs and self-starters, talking about their journeys on the road to success and the highs and lows they’ve experienced along the way. We do sprinkle some actual Tailoring talk across the episodes but mostly it’s a podcast about people sharing their experiences with the intention of helping and inspiring others – all the reasons I love to do what I do!

Outside of tailoring I’m a keen cyclist and animal lover, with two cats and two dogs. I took up road cycling about 6 years ago, which turned out to be a salvation during lockdown by helping me to stay in shape and get out. Generally cycling helps provide me with a quiet head-space to clear my thoughts and remain focused.

So finally, what’s your favourite style and look?

I love the fashion from the 40s to the 60s. Dressing well just seemed to be a normal every day thing to do! Whether it was work or pleasure, people still took care with how they dressed and the art of dressing seems like something that was appreciated. It didn’t seem to matter how wealthy people were, even working-class people wore a suit or dressed to impress.

From a fashion point of view I love David Beckham’s style. He’s one of those individuals who oozes style effortlessly. If I could dress David for an event, it would make my year.

I’ve started watching all the James Bond films back-to-back, and we started a “Bondathon” on the Tailoring Talk podcast reviewing one film a month in turn. James Bond is the perfect mechanism to chart the progress and sometimes regress of men’s fashion. Some of the guest opinions are quite interesting in ‘who wore it best’. Growing up in the 80s Roger Moore should be “my Bond”, but I was probably too young to really be following the films. It wasn’t till my late teens when Pierce Brosnan took on the role that I got truly hooked on Bond. Having now seen the first three with Sean Connery, I think he was far an way the best dressed!

But, whether someday it’s David Beckham, Daniel Craig, a client I’ve been tailoring for 20 years or a brand new customer… I work closely with every client who gets in touch to ensure we create the outfit they were born to wear. One that helps them face the world with confidence, feel their very best and assists in their achieving their goals.

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