From David Beckham to Martin Johnson, Austin Healey to the Royal Air Force, Jim Smith has tailored some of the biggest names in the world. What separates his company, JS Tailoring, from the rest? The fact every customer of his, famous or not, gets the same treatment.
Offering handmade, luxury bespoke tailoring, the JS Tailoring treatment consists of a personable service, the location and style of which is just as customisable as the outstanding suits they have to offer.
At the head of it all is founder Jim Smith, the stylish frontman with over 20 years of experience in tailoring.
Last week, I was fortunate enough to speak with Jim about the art of tailoring in the 21st century…
KW: So Jim, how did you get into tailoring?
Jim: I got offered a Christmas temp job at Burton in Lincoln by a friend who was deputy manager at the time and he always told me I’d do really well at selling suits, I had a ‘gift’ with people, he said.
KW: What separates a great tailor from an average one?
Jim: One who listens to what the client wants and then guides them through the process.
KW: Who are some of the most famous names you’ve tailored for?
Jim: The England football team, including David Beckham and co, through my previous employer. I’ve also tailored or lots of rugby stars: the likes of Martin Johnson, Ben Kay, Martin Corry, Austin Healey to name a few.
KW: What’s it like tailoring famous stars? Is it difficult to not become star-struck?
Jim: No I just treat them as I would any other client, and have a laugh and joke with them.
KW: How did you end up tailoring celebrities?
Jim: Mainly word of mouth; you do a great job for one celeb and they tell others. Free PR – there’s nothing better!
KW: Just how important is word of mouth in your line of work?
Jim: Massively important, especially because it costs nothing. Every customer of mine gets the same treatment, whether you’re famous or not.
KW: What’s your favourite type of suit?
Jim: I love a classic plain 3 piece suit with either a notch or peak lapel and a quirky lining that you can dress up with a fancy shirt and tie for one occasion then wear semi casual for another.
KW: What makes JS Tailoring special?
Jim: My passion and drive for making people look and feel special and delivering an outfit that knocks the socks off everyone else’s suit.
KW: How important are relationships in tailoring?
Jim: Hugely important, most clients know what they want and just need a bit of guidance with what colours and styles would best suit them.
KW: What, in your experience, are the key ingredients to building relationships?
Jim: The most important thing is great customer service. This then gives the relationship longevity.
KW: How has the internet impacted tailoring?
Jim: I think the internet has been a great tool for people to see what’s available. It has given them a huge choice; if you want an off the peg suit you can have one within 24 hours of viewing it online. But nothing beats having something personally tailored for you.
KW: Why is it important to still have that experience of a tailor coming to you (or you to them) as opposed to ordering online?
Jim: It’s a more personal and stress-free experience in person. You can’t see the exact colour online as they Photoshop the images. You also end up ordering lots of different sizes and fits and then have to either send them back or take them into a store for a refund.
Nothing beats looking at a swatch book in front of your own eyes and seeing the exact colour and feeling the cloth.
KW: There have been recent news stories about robots/machines tailoring suits. What is your take on this?
Jim: Yes I’ve seen the news. There’s nothing wrong with the mass-produced, off the peg suits if you want that sort of garment. If it works for you then fair enough, but as I said earlier, nothing beats choosing your own cloth, lining and style and then having it made for you.
KW: Did you ever consider having a shop? Why have you decided against it?
Jim: I don’t need a shop with massive overheads, rates and the like. Being able to visit the client at their home or office makes it a more unique and relaxed experience.
KW: You’re always dressed well, which clearly helps you sell your services. How essential is it that a business owner lives their brand?
Jim: Very important. If I was to arrive at a client’s house or office in jeans and a tee shirt, I’d probably get some funny looks and comments after I’d finished the appointment. You need to come across in a well presented and professional manner.
KW: You’re a supporter of a number of charities. Does having a large business network help with this?
Jim: Yes, it’s been invaluable. I organise a charity golf day in memory of my wife who passed away in December 2017, with all the funds raised going to the Ingham cancer ward at Lincoln hospital. Having the network of contacts that I’ve got was a massive help when wanting raffle and auction items.
The second charity is the Matt Hampson Foundation. Matt, a former Leicester Tigers and England Rugby player, has had a rehabilitation centre built to help people seriously injured in sport get their lives back on track and ‘Get Busy Living’. He’s got a huge network of contacts for my business.
Tailoring is an art, but so is customer service, and Jim Smith seems to have mastered both. He is someone that understands every stitch that goes into his craft, and takes just as much meticulous care and precision in the way in which he treats his customers as he does with every hem, lapel and collar.
Each suit Jim fits is one bespoke-designed for the individual, made uniquely and exactly to their specifications, wants and needs. His service is no different. Jim Smith treats people exactly how they want to be treated, no matter their fame or fortune.
If Martin Johnson, England Rugby World Cup-winning captain and former manager, wants a service and experience no different to you nor I, for example, then that is precisely what he will get at JS Tailoring.
It is that masterful and personable appreciation of the fine art of relationships that makes Jim Smith one of the most respected and successful people in his industry.