“Congrats son – you start Monday but, whatever you do in the meantime, make sure you buy a new suit – that one’s awful”
And there I stood, quarter elated, three quarters embarrassed in the expansive lobby of an European Investment Bank. A recent graduate, not sure where to go or who to turn to.
It was 2005. I was wearing the suit my mother bought me for my graduation. She told me it ‘was very smart’. The sales guy in the shop of the small, North West Mayo town I grew up in said it ‘looked well’. And yet, here I was, in the City of London, crimson and crestfallen.
And so I’ve spent the intervening years (away from Ireland) educating myself on all things tailoring. Making in-roads on the manufacturing side. Talking to the various mills and merchants.
And, after 15 years away, returned to Ireland last year to start our (recently launched) business, Wolf in Wool – a simple tailoring solution.
What We Do:
Taking an old world tailoring approach but, dressing it up in digital convenience, Wolf in Wool is a made-to-measure tailor only.
We have no stock to push. No suppliers to please. Our garments are designed by the customer and cut by us.
The garments do not exist until you say so.
Whilst the business model has seen great success in the US, Canada and Australia, this is a first for Ireland.
A digitally focused, showroom style (new) retail model, prioritising service and product.
Our online Suit Designer – a feature on our website – allows you to browse a selection of our in-house fabrics and build your perfect suit on an avatar. This is another first for menswear on this fine island.
The business is based on two principle ideas:
– That men, for the most part, are less impulsive, more studious shoppers.
Hence they might benefit from doing the ‘leg-work’ from the comfort of their device, designing their garment prior to booking an appointment to get measured.
– And two, that, as this pandemic has taught us, you can buy almost anything online but, a suit, where the fabric, feel and fit is paramount, is not one of them.
And by combining the two – a little offline, a little online – we hope to return the process of buying a suit to it’s roots.
Afterall, our grandfathers, despite having less opportunities than us, were better dressed than us. And a large part of this was access to natural fibre fabrics, from local tailors. Buying a suit was once a rite of passage – not a quick trip to a shopping centre outside town.
Where We’re At:
There’s a few businesses you wouldn’t want to launch in 2020. Certainly, one that leans heavily into the wedding space and is almost entirely reliant on professionals wearing professional attire, would sit high on that list!
So, we pushed back our launch from March 2020 to March 2021. And we were lucky enough to join the Back for Business IV program, an amazing initiative specifically aimed at returning ex-pats to establish new ventures (a very special thank you to Paula Fitzsimons, Orla Mooney and Clodagh Sleator for selecting us).
Support such as this, given everything that has happened since our return, has been incredible.
With restrictions still in-place, we’re simply trying to get our name out there.
Letting good folks like yourselves know that, in Ireland, a made-to-measure tailor with a digital focus now exists.
One that doesn’t sell these garments as a secondary offering to their predominantly ready-to-wear product but, instead, a business who is exclusively made-to-measure.
Subject to restrictions lifting, we’d be delighted for you to reach out, ask a question, give us a follow on social or, better still, make an appointment (should the need arise!)
In the absence of a premises for the moment (we’re just waiting on some COVID related clarity prior to seeking a long term lease), we’d be delighted to visit you in a location of your choosing – your home, office, somewhere convenient to you.
We will bring: a measuring tape, fabric books, a garment to try-on and a laptop (where we can build – more expansively – on the imagery designed via the website).
And, in 8 guaranteed weeks, you will get a perfectly fitting suit (also guaranteed) with any alterations for our account.
In the rare event the garment is un-adjustable, we’ll remake it, free of charge.
Hopefully, come year end, we’ll have a showroom for you to come visit but, clarity is difficult at the moment!
I don’t attend fashion shows. An expensive polo shirt with a fancy animal on it does not interest me.
I didn’t go to fashion school.
That said, my first job (during school), in a town that puts the ‘Wild’ in ‘Atlantic Way’ had an indirect impact on my passion for tailoring.
I was a butcher from 15-18 and what I learnt there fascinated me. Three different cuts from the same animal required three entirely different ways to cook it to get your best outcome. It’s where art and science meet.
For instance (and bear with me here!) you can take a fillet steak, slap it in the microwave on high for ten minutes and the outcome – the science – is the same. Edible animal protein.
Alternatively, you can take that steak, bring it up to room temperature, season it liberally, add garlic, rosemary, butter to a hot pan, sear it and rest it.
The scientific outcome is the same – edible animal protein.
The difference, is the art.
A little consideration.
A thoughtful approach.
For me, it’s the same with tailoring.
Anyone can go in and buy a ready-to-wear suit in a size largely determined by chest width. That’s the scientific outcome.
But a considered approach – one where the suit fits perfectly, in a beautiful fabric, fit for it’s purpose – that’s a wonderful outcome.
For instance, if you work in a warm climate, in a less formal environment, we have wool, silk and linen blend jackets:
*Wool, silk and linen, green-on-green, windowpane blazer with cotton chinos.
The wool lends structure, the silk lustre and the linen cool-to-the-touch lightness. Have your jacket made half or quarter lined and you have a wardrobe staple for warm climate meetings for years to come.
If you live and work in more temperate conditions, consider our range of flannels – practical as a separate trouser, great as a full suit.
For the creatives or, for those folks who work in less formal offices, we can make authentic tweed blazers. Versatile enough to be dressed down with jeans or dressed up with flannels or wool pants.
*Herringbone tweed jacket and grey flannels
Double breasted, single breasted, peak lapels, notch lapels, patch pockets, flap pockets, belt loops, side adjustors. The choices are varied. But, most importantly, they’re yours.
Finally, it wouldn’t be an Irish company if we didn’t embrace our sense of humour – afterall – this is only clothing at the end of the day.
And whilst first impressions are very important (and a well cut suit will help you go far in that regard) we like to keep a couple of playful customisations up our sleeve.
For instance, under your lapel collar, you can leave a little message:
*note: any reference to “6-in-a-row” or “Colm Cooper” is prohibited on ethical grounds
Or, have your jacket buttonhole give a nod to the homeland:
*Tri-Colour lapel buttonhole
Or playful prints inside your jacket:
*Our rugby jacket lining
In conclusion, as we all sit here waiting for the day normality resumes, remember that, the hoody is cool and all but, the suit is the only garment on the face of the planet designed, specifically, to accentuate the male form – build the shoulders, pinch the waist, lend structure.
And, if you need one (or know anyone who may need one in the near future) whether it be a return to the office, getting married or a well cut shirt or blazer in a relaxed fabric, keep us in mind. You now know a guy!
Our website (suit designer and all) is:
Our primary social account is Instagram:
Incidentally, if you do have an interest in menswear, the mailing list on our site is focused on talking about the subtleties of tailoring.
As opposed to a mailing list that simply says ‘here’s all the stuff we have to sell you’ as we have no stock, we are, instead, focused on what (we think) tailoring can do for you.
In a similar vein, we have also recently featured on bespoke tailor, Roberto Revilla’s podcast, to discuss our launch, our passion for tailoring and what we all might be wearing when we eventually get back to the office (one day!)
Finally, some may call it ‘notions’ but, if you were wondering if tailoring and a decent barber makes any difference to how you present yourself to the world, I give you exhibit A:
*The suit mentioned at the top of the piece and, a Wolf in Wool offering – same guy – 20 years apart!
I’ll leave it there!
Don’t be a sheep.
Be a wolf.
All the Best