Accessories March, 1 2013

Selectism Q&A | Hostem London – ‘The Chalk Room’ Bespoke Service

East London store Hostem welcome a new project to their concrete floors. ‘The Chalk Room’ offers a bespoke, made-to-measure service from a selection of labels many of whom are offering this exclusively to the store. Customers will be able to tweak and customise suits, accessories and footwear by appointment – options open to view in this specially designed space, all bare floors and well beaten furniture. We had a chat with the folk behind the service and three of the brands who have made The Chalk Room their second home: Casely-Hayford,  Globe-Trotter and Sebastian Tarek. Impressive offerings from Fleet Ilya and JAMESPLUMB also on show, read on for more and take a closer look in the gallery.

Images:Ross Trevail/Selectism

How did the Chalk Room come about?

Hostem – We began to notice a trend in our customers’ shopping habits where we were having a high percentage of items altered and tweaked, especially tailoring and suiting. The same was going on in footwear – we felt clients were compromising on size, comfort and colour, and on many occasions they would be unsure of the right size to take or unhappy with the fit. We felt there had to be a solution to this.

Can you tell is a little about the basic ideas behind it?

Hostem – The idea for ‘Hostem Bespoke’ was ultimately sparked following a conversation with Charlie Casey-Hayford about future projects and further ways in which we could work together – he spoke of their desire to launch their made-to-measure service where customers could come to their studio for an appointment with Charlie to have a suit made. At that point we felt that The Chalk Room (which now houses Hostem Bespoke) would be the perfect space for this service, and the project developed from there. It then grew into a curated selection of other brands who offer the same level of service and quality, and who share the same ethos.

Did you feel this was something that was missing?

Hostem – I don’t think that we’re necessarily ‘filling a gap’ – obviously the concept of bespoke has been around for hundreds of years; what’s unique about our project is that it’s housing and curating these artisans in a single environment and giving their services a platform to exist outside of closed doors. Customers can order a single suit or shoes, multiple suits, luggage etc. all in one afternoon, and without leaving The Chalk Room.



Charlie Casely-Hayford – Menswear Designer

Can you tell us a little about the pieces you’ll be offering at Hostem Bespoke in The Chalk Room?

The Casely-Hayford Personal Tailoring will be by appointment only. We’ve developed the concept as we saw there was a gap in the market for a luxury brand to provide the experience of Savile Row, but with the modernism of a fashion house. We were getting a lot of custom suit requests as people like Michael Fassbender, Usher and The XX were wearing Casely-Hayford on the red carpet, so we took the opportunity to collaborate with Hostem Bespoke in The Chalk Room.

What sort of options will be available to customers?

We’ve been developing the process for about 6 months with our team. We wanted to retain the price of a made-to-measure service but bring it as close to Bespoke as possible. So we provide 40 different points of customisation for our clients to really make the suit their own. There are about 70 alterations that we account for when we’re cutting the suit – so it really is quite a unique service for the price point. We’ve also spent the best part of last year sourcing some of the best fabrics in the world from mills exclusively from Italy and the UK so that we can provide the customer with up to 2000 fabric options. It’s a completely immersive experience.

How do you find the process of creating one-off, bespoke items as opposed to your mainline products?

I made the conscious decision to do a lot of the customer fittings myself when we decided to do the project. It’s such a special process and I enjoy meeting our customers. With our mainline collection you can’t really have such a connection with clients. The process of crafting a suit that perfectly conceals anything the customer doesn’t want visible but then equally accentuates their attributes makes our job different every time.

If you could have a made-to-measure/bespoke piece made by anyone who would you choose?

A Falcon motorbike – they only make one a year. If my girlfriend would let me near a bike, it would definitely be pretty high up on my life to-do-list… One below: to go back in time and meet J Dilla.



Gary Bott-Creative Director of Globe-trotter

Can you tell us a little about the pieces you’ll be offering at The Chalk Room?

This bespoke edition features an exclusive Super 120s Wool Flannel & Cashmere lining in ‘The Chalk Room’ Grey by John Foster, a manufacturer of fine Worsted and Mohair cloths since 1819 based in West Yorkshire. We have a Bespoke Lounge at our flagship store in the Burlington Arcade that offers this service, however this is the first time we have offered bespoke outside of our own store and at special events in Tokyo. The concept is to present the bespoke options, or component parts to the client in a specially designed case and high-density foam platform for Hostem.

What sort of options will be available to customers?

Clients are able to customise their own edition suitcase choosing from the vulcanised fibreboard, swatch colours, leather swatch colour and hardware options (locks & lipping). We have 10 different sizes ranging from a 9″ Mini Utility Case through to a 33″ Extra Deep Suitcase with Wheels. The John Foster lining option is a Hostem exclusive and we feel this shade of grey will complement any colour combination a client may choose for the exterior of their bespoke case.

How do you find the process of creating one-off, bespoke items as opposed to your mainline products?

As a manufacturer this process is relatively simple provided we work within the parameters of production possibilities. Bespoke Globe-Trotter cases requires a unique specification, or job-sheet, per item; so we have to reset our production line which means there is more labour time involved for just one bespoke case as opposed to hand-making multiples of one size, style, colour.

If you could have a made-to-measure/bespoke piece made by anyone who would you choose?

I am rather tall at 6ft5 and because of my size and shape I have to alter all my jackets to fit correctly. So I would have to say a beautifully tailored grey flannel suit by Casely-Hayford. Charlie is around the same height and build as me so perhaps he could just give me one of his.



Sebastian Tarek – Shoemaker

Can you tell us a little about the pieces you’ll be offering at The Chalk Room?

The range of bespoke samples that I have produced for ‘The Chalk Room’ are intended to be a response to the space, and to the Hostem clientele. As a bespoke service these are only intended to be a starting point, to provide a reference for clients. Ultimately they can have pretty much what ever they want. I chose to start the project off with a range of classic styles, in an understated palette revolving around black and ways in which it can be manipulated. Two last shapes have been developed specifically for Hostem Bespoke, one a more formal, city silhouette, and the other more robust and casual, modelled on an old Italian military boot shape, or what would have been called a ‘gentleman’s shoe’ or ‘boot’. All have been produced with the detailing and production styling indicative of London’s West End bespoke shoe makers, but with a relaxed aesthetic. These shoes are intended to show the miles walked in them.

What sort of options will be available to customers?

The options are as far-reaching as a customer’s imagination and specific requests will be accommodated as much as can be sourced. Two new colour ways (re-workings of black by augmenting with coloured polish) have been created specifically for Hostem Bespoke. Custom-made buckles developed by the jeweller Duffy are used for the Monk shoes, and sole finishes and construction styles are entirely up to the customer. It is a bespoke range so it’s up to the customer!

How do you find the process of creating one-off, bespoke items as opposed to your mainline products?

I am purely bespoke and I only make made-to-order bespoke pieces. Each customer has their own last, used only for their shoes. This IS my mainline! The interaction with a customer inherent to working made-to-order is one of my favourite aspects of working the way I do. The commencement of Hostem Bespoke is the evolution of what I have been doing privately for some time, and it is a realisation of a desire to work in-house with a store that I have always admired and appreciated. I love the idea of a gentleman’s outfitter for the non-conventional man.

If you could have a made-to-measure/bespoke piece made by anyone who would you choose?

Wow. Well if the ultimate in bespoke is having a building made, then I have long held a dream of having Tadao Ando make me a conservatory down the back of my garden. But if we are talking something more realistic then the experience of having to wear a hired suit for a black tie event recently has resolved me that I have to find a tailor down Savile row to do a swap with one of these days. I’d love a nice dinner suit from huntsman. If I could bring myself to wear shoes made by someone else, I’ve always lusted over the Russian reindeer Adelaide’s they have made at Cleverleys in the Royal Arcade off Bond Street.