A sartorial conversation with Ayres Gonçalo, Ayres Bespoke Tailor, Lisboa and Porto
Dear readers, the coronation ceremony of King Charles III of United Kingdom has swept across the world back in early May, while the spotlight was right on the ceremony and the royal couple, I, on the other hand, was more intrigued by the pictures of the young king from a social media post, particularly the one which he was wearing his 8x3 double-breast navy blazer, crispy white shirt and a pair of smart sunglasses, such classic and at-ease look makes me think of the beauty of impeccable tailoring. For sure the King has his own selection of great tailors to make some of the most exquisite tailoring clothing for him, and there’s one tailor, who came from Portugal, has made a tailoring clothing for then-HRH-Prince-Charles before, and that is Mr. Ayres Gonçalo.
Born and raised in a traditional tailoring family in Portugal, the young Ayres starts to cultivate the interest about tailoring by watching his grandfather, who was one of the best Portuguese tailors, falling in love with the beauty of construction, fabric and workmanship, that eventually made the young Ayres to work in his grandfather’s shop and learn about the craft after school, with his effort and passion, which takes Ayres to Savile Row, London, having an opportunity to work for the renowned Gieves & Hawkes, and later in 2010, received the Bespoke Tailor certificate from the Savile Row Bespoke Association, a worldwide recognition as one of the finest bespoke tailors. Besides his accomplishment in London, Ayres has branched out internationally with his partnership with New York tailoring house, Michael Andrews Bespoke, then subsequently lead him to Hong Kong and Shenzhen China. Now based in his home country Portugal running his operation in between Lisbon and London, Ayres’ tailoring has been sought after by a broad range of international elite clientele, and today, I am glad to invite this remarkable Portuguese tailor to have him share with us more about his work and his thoughts about men’s tailoring and style, here we go.
My Modern Darcy: Hi Ayres, such a delight to have you today. As understand that you were passionate about tailoring since you were very young, what makes you so fascinated about tailoring and eventually decided that to be your life career?
Ayres Gonçalo: Thank you My Modern Darcy! The pleasure is mine. What makes me fascinated about tailoring was the daily love that my grandfather used to put on his job. I started to work with him when I was a teenager, and I started to feel in love with tailoring too. I used to watch my grandfather cutting suits, making fittings and sewing all the pieces together, and I decided to become a tailor very early.
MMD: You’ve been working for one of the most reputed British tailoring house on Savile Row, how was the worklife like back then as a foreigner that works in there? And what are the most valuable things that you’ve learnt that applies to you even now?
AG: When I started to search for a job on Savile Row, I was lucky to have the opportunity to make a 3-months-work as an experience at Gieves and Hawkes, after those 3 months I got the job! The work life was so heavy, but we were happy and improving our skills everyday, we just live and enjoy the moment. I used to work from Sunday to Sunday (for option) in order to learn as much as possible. I cannot mention one valuable thing because there is a lot of valuables things that I have learnt from Savile Row that I still use and respect up to these days.
MMD: Compare with the traditional craftsmanship from your grandfather, what are the distinctions in between the British sartorial and the Portuguese one? And how do they influence your work?
AG: My grandfather always use an Italian cut and construction, so what I can compare is the difference between an Italian construction and an English construction; but do not forget that in Italy, the cut and construction is different in Milan, Rome or Naples. The English construction has more straight lines and heavier inside, while the Italian is more curve lines and soft inside. I use a mix of both on my garments.
MMD: You have made suit for a British royalty and even reputed artists before, can you share with us which one makes you so memorable and why?
AG: King Charles the III, definitely. First of all, because I always dreamed to make a suit for him, and secondly, because it happened!
MMD: In your opinion, what defines a well-made, exquisite bespoke suit?
AG: Everything, but even so, everything is nearly impossible because the suits are made by human hand and human are not machine. What I want to say is that the beauty of a bespoke process is the small imperfections, but I appreciate a well-cut (tailoring clothing), with a beautiful lapel, a nice hanging sleeves, and an awesome buttonhole. In general, I appreciate small details that makes the difference.
MMD: Now let’s tell us a bit about your work, what is the house style of Ayres Bespoke Tailor? And what’s your signature creation?
AG: The House of Ayres Bespoke Tailor is about a hybrid style: a mix of old and contemporary style. A heritage that focuses to the future. Our Signature collection is a double breasted jacket with just one button.
MMD: Throughout your tailoring journey, can you share with us what challenge that you have encountered, and how did you overcome them?
AG: Well, the first challenge was to find a tailoring school as there´s none is Portugal and I had to find one in Madrid (Spain), and then i had to find a job in order to live and pay the school. I used to work during the day in a tailoring shop and went to school at night. Another big challenge was to get a job on Savile Row; I have knocked on the door of several houses before Gieves and Hawkes gave me the opportunity.
MMD: Now let’s talk about yourself, can you tell us what’s your favorite ensemble? Or your typical look of the day?
AG: My typical look of the day is my house style double breasted suit with a front pleat trousers.
MMD: When it comes to ‘style’ for men, how did you define this term in your opinion?
AG: Style is what makes you feel good, and fashion is not style. Style is something very personal, you have your style, and I have my style.
MMD: In the dress-down era that we are living in now, what are the value of existence for tailoring? And how do you see the future for men’s tailoring?
AG: The value of the existence of tailoring in our days is that some people still love wearing suits and appreciate the craft. I have to say that I see a bright future in bespoke tailoring because there´s a lot young people start learning the trade again.
MMD: Besides dressing well from the outer, what other qualities that a modern-day gentleman should have?
AG: Simplicity with attitude.
MMD: If someone approaches you one day and ask you how to become a great tailor, what is your advice for him/her?
AG: Follow your dreams and believe in yourself, work hard and things will happen.
Special thanks to Mr. Ayres Gonçalo.
Image courtesy of Ayres Bespoke Tailor, Lisboa