Andrew Brookes reveals what inspired him to start his Edinburgh-based men’s clothing and styling business
Andrew Brookes, 50, is a tailor and designer by trade, working from Andrew Brookes Tailoring studio (www.andrew-brookes.com) on Edinburgh’s George Street. After working in the men’s clothing business for decades, he set up his own label in 2016 and has attracted a following for his well-cut, timeless designs.
What do you do?
I design handmade men’s fashion for the discerning gentleman, from jackets and suits to full highland outfits and evening and weekend wear. I also offer personal styling by appointment.
What is your training/background?
Tailoring is in my blood. My father set up the family men’s clothing business in 1946 and I spent my time after school and in the holidays working with him. I’ve worked in men’s fashion since I left school and always been fascinated by different fabrics, cuts and styling. I opened a business called Kiltpin in the late 1990s and won awards for men’s highland, tweed and formalwear, but I’d always wanted my own design label, as that was my real passion.
Why did you decide to set up the company?
After running one of Scotland’s top highland wear companies for many years, I was prompted by one of the senior people at Scottish Development International to start my own handmade men’s design business. After showing pieces at Tartan Week in New York, I took the leap and created Andrew Brookes Tailoring in 2016. We’ve quietly built the business up and attracted a loyal following of clients from many sectors, including film and small screen, the corporate world and leading sports people.
What is your aim?
Ultimately, I want to help make men’s lives better through great handmade clothing and accessories. Your clothes make a statement about who you are. When I am designing a bespoke tailored piece or creating a wardrobe for a client, I’m working closely with them on building their personal brand through pieces that reflect their personality, lifestyle and ambitions.
What’s different about your product?
The clothing speaks for itself. We create well-cut, beautifully designed pieces that are practical, stylish and durable. I’m classically trained but for me, there are no sartorial rules. Wear a smart dinner jacket with a pair of jeans and trainers for a more casual look, but if that jacket is designed well – which can be down to the cut, the detailing – it will transcend many different occasions and trends.
What challenges have you faced?
Like any growing business, there’s the challenge of balancing your workload, cashflow and work/life balance. There are days when it can seem daunting but ultimately, it’s all worth it. We are so personally invested in terms of our time and our passion that it can be hard to step back, but I genuinely love what I do.
What was the biggest surprise along the way?
One of our clients loves what we do so much he invested in the business. This has helped us to grow the brand faster. We’ve redesigned the website, invested in sales and marketing, and my wife Mel has joined the business as MD to enable me to focus on designing.
What is the fun part of your business?
Getting to know so many interesting people on a personal level and becoming a part of their lives. Many of our clients are now friends. I love the process of creating a piece, interpreting my client’s style and vision for their look. I will never get bored by seeing a client walk out of the studio with a smile on their face, a more confident stride and an Andrew Brookes garment bag in their hand.
How has it evolved?
We’ve evolved from a small serviced office two years ago to a beautifully styled studio on George Street. We like to think of our studio as a hidden space, a haven from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. Our clients book an appointment and have privacy to explore fabrics, designs, have fittings and enjoy a little dram or two as they go. We are geared for growth, with a vision for retail premises in the north of England and Glasgow, as well as moving to a larger city-centre townhouse in Edinburgh’s New Town.
What have you learned?
That it’s as important to enjoy the journey as the ultimate destination. And that I want to make sure I can pass on my knowledge to the next generation. Our children have grown up around the business and our eldest daughter is about to go to university and study costume design, so who knows?
What is your most popular product?
Our handmade hybrid tweed jackets and waistcoats are really popular. You can wear them with a kilt, jeans or as part of a tweed suit, so they’re really versatile. We design them to be worn for weddings, but so they also work as an wardrobe essential. As a true Scotsman, I like good value in a garment!
Who are your customers?
We work with clients across a spectrum of industries, from the worlds of sport, film, music and the media, in the UK and internationally. Chris Van Der Kuyl, Ross King, Scott Meenagh and Dougie Vipond among many others.
Which items do you have at home from your range?
My signature outfit is my navy chalk stripe flannel jacket, which I wear either as a suit or with jeans, chinos and sneakers. I love switching up a formal piece with a pair of trainers. I wear them for practical reasons, but it’s become a real trend this year.
What are your goals?
Within five years, we plan to open a flagship Edinburgh townhouse store, We’re a young brand with heritage and a strong vision. We see the Andrew Brookes store incorporating handmade men’s fashion, personal styling, even personal grooming with a modern barber as well as meeting and office space for professionals, even boutique accommodation. A true lifestyle brand.
What’s your style philosophy?
Having a selection of timeless, quality garments that work together like a toolkit, so you can express your personal brand and look fantastic.
Where are your products made?
In the UK, Europe and the Far East.
Who are your style icons?
Steve McQueen, Ralph Lauren and Stanley Tucci. The classics, real gents with real style.
Who are your favourite designers?
Ralph Lauren, Virgil Abloh and Brunello Cucinelli. I love Ralph Lauren for his timeless, classic designs, Virgil Abloh for the way he is shaking up luxury menswear with his tailoring meets streetwear collections and Brunello Cucinelli for his luxurious, elegant, uncompromising designs.
What is your inspiration?
The rugged natural beauty of Scotland, especially the Highlands and the many different landscapes. Also European style, the Scandinavians, Italians and French. I visit shows around the world for inspiration and regularly visit Pitti Immagine, the premier international trade fair for menswear and contemporary lifestyles in Florence.
Andrew Brookes Tailoring, 60a George Street, Edinburgh EH2 2LR (0131-225 3659 or 07515 285604, www.andrew-brookes.com)