Morning at Turnbull & Asser

18 October, 2007

I am quite lucky that my occupation allows me to travel quite a bit and on my last business trip to New York City I decided to spend a few minutes of my work day focusing on James Bond. In this particular case I spent an hour at Turnbull and Asser before my first meeting of the day which was happily only a few blocks away. T&A were expecting me as I had ordered one of the limited edition tuxedo shirts which had to be ordered from the UK and I told them I wanted it to be altered (the shirt is a classic cut, rather droopy and baggy) in the store. It was a crisp morning and NYC was already in high gear as I approached the store front. Those of you who have had the pleasure of visiting the store know it absolutely reeks of class even before you walk in the door.

 

 

This visit I noticed an unusual amount of vans outside... construction seemed to be the word of the day. Once inside the establishment I was greeted by an attractive young woman who announced me. As I was looking for Felix Berrios, the gent that helped me on the phone and ordered my tuxedo package, I was shown to the second floor where a few construction types were altering some lights. Along the wall were glass displays of Winston Churchill's robe, pictures of the different James Bond actors, and other vintage Turnbull and Asser clothes. All the clothing and accessories were displayed with meticulous detail and care giving one the feeling that the smallest item had great meaning. Other than myself and one other patron the store was empty. Felix greeted me enthusiastically remembering right away that I was the patron on the phone that was coming in to have a Casino Royale tux shirt altered. He asked me to try on the shirt in a beautifully appointed dressing room and as I buttoned the shirt I noticed the shirt was much softer than I expected. For some reason I can't explain I thought the shirt, with its waffle weave would be a bit starchy. The 140s fabric draped, as I expected, in a baggy fashion and I was immediately relieved I was in the Mecca of men's tailoring. I knew I would be taken care of... I just didn't know how well. As I exited I saw Felix holding a series of measuring tapes waiting for me. Instead of approaching him I moved slowly to my bag and dug around finding my camera. I sheepishly pulled the camera out and steadied myself for the strangest of looks as I asked Felix if someone could take pictures of me being measured in the tux shirt, like the different Bond actors have done so many times before. I began to OVER explain myself telling him I was a huge Bond fan and this was a big deal for me. Much to my surprise, and happiness, I was not met with strange looks at all. In fact Felix grabbed the camera from me and said, "Mr. Zaritsky, let's make this a memory you will have forever. Come with me." I followed him up to the third floor where the majority of construction was going on. I glanced to my right at a pile of beautifully glazed wood. "The bar for our clients," Felix stated in a matter of fact way. Lovely. A stiff drink and a soft shirt. I loved the concept. As the third floor is their bespoke area there were more clothing assistants on this level, all of them impeccably dressed, and me with my baggy tuxedo shirt. Felix asked me to stand in front of a series of wooden shelves and he would be right back with a surprise. Inspecting my surroundings I saw patterns and swatches everywhere and a huge book opened to a series of pictures of Sean Connery being measured for a shirt and suit. As I was taking in the atmosphere of gentlemanly stations I heard Felix enter the room again. "Mr. Zaritsky, I would like to introduce you to James Cook." I greeted this new gentleman who had an instant air of confidence and a firm handshake. Then he said it---"James measured Daniel Craig for his tuxedo shirt and now he is going to measure you for yours." So this is one of those fan boy moments when you muster up all your maturity and act nonchalant about it... but inside I was a screaming girl.

 

 

How cool would this be? In Turnbull and Asser, wearing a Casino Royale tuxedo shirt, being measured by the tailor that measured Bond, James Bond. I silently gave a prayer that Felix was a decent photographer as James Cook went about measuring me.

 

 

A tuck there, a nip there, need to bring this in, shorten the sleeves and he was done. These two gents could not have been more patient and nicer to me. I truly believe they knew they were creating a special Bond moment for me.

 

 

Cook chatted with me for some time after the fitting explaining how he moved from England, to Japan, to now NYC. He told me how his grandfather used to swim in Ian Fleming's pool when Ian was in Jamaica. After the stories were finished Felix took me back down to the second floor by their VIP elevator. Once we were settled in again he showed me the reissued Bond ties they carried. Most of them I had and there was one from Goldeneye that I didn't have yet so I had to pick it up. As I was paying for the shirt and tie yet another gent who works there approached me and mentioned he heard I was a big Bond fan (word travels quickly in a NYC store). He began to tell me all the anguish that Turnbull and Asser corporate has had since they announced Dunhill would be the next clothier for Bond 22. They felt a bit jilted, I would say and he mentioned many of the product placement companies were being left behind for "new faces". Felix explained to me that Simon was one of the Turnbull and Asser tailors that flew to the Bahamas to do alterations on Craig. Simon mentioned that the producers actually told Craig at one point to stop his workout regime because he was getting too big. Cannonballs on his shoulders, is how Simon described them. They gave me a good twelve hours of excitement when they mentioned they did the white Bahamas shirt (this statement was corrected when I called the next day and they verified that it was a Diesel shirt that THEY only altered... rats). All of this transpired within a one hour time period but I was never made to feel rushed or that I was inconveniencing them. It was a special morning and gave me an extra skip and jump for my meetings that I was a part of for the remainder of the day. Less than a week later, the memory still fresh in my head, I received a beautifully wrapped box from Turnbull and Asser with my perfectly altered shirt, box and bow tie. And I tell you, that shirt may fray over time, but my memory of that morning at Turnbull and Asser will not.

 

 

 

© 2007 David Zaritsky - www.freewebs.com/zaritsky/


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Comments

Well, you are a lucky man, Mr. Zaritsky! The shirt seems to be perfect. By the way, have you found the third (bad guy) part of the "CR on a budget" articles, because I am searching for months (web, posts on forums, mails...)which (real) brand was dressing Le Chiffre in Casino Royale? Thank you.

I've been to two of their locations now, and although every time I'm concerned that they will be stuffy or condescending their staff is so not that way. Their employees are the most welcoming, friendly, and helpful of any tailor that I've ever visited. It's no wonder that Turnbull & Asser has stood the test of time and people keep coming back. They've made a lifelong customer out of me! And as an interesting side-note, the last time I was in the New York location one of the associates told me that they had also made the ties for the recent film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I guess I'll have to look for those too!

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