‘Contemporary and on-trend’ — Rishi Sunak’s tailor defends his cropped slim-fit suits

Rishi Sunak must be dreaming of his sunlounger and a page-turning thriller, but before the Prime Minister makes it to his first family holiday in four years this week, he must battle a final round of fire.

He has hardly been inconspicuous of late — between his London housebuilding claims and the announcement of hundreds of new oil and gas licences for the UK — but Twitter is holding him accountable for a more trivial pursuit. Why is a man worth £529 million buying suits that don’t fit?

This storm in a haberdashery is the work of Derek Guy, a menswear writer and blogger. On Twitter, where he has 462.8K followers, he channels the late Fashion Police host Joan Rivers, with divisive and sharp tongued critiques of men’s style.

Rishi Sunak speaks to Gordon Ramsey on Zoom in 2021

/ Photo: Treasury

His most recent attempted arrest? Sunak. In a tweet viewed by 3.7 million, he writes: “Baffling to me how the wealthiest UK prime minister in history could live just steps away from savile row, the single greatest concentration of skilled bespoke tailors, and end up paying $2k for a MTM suit with sleeves and trousers 2-4″ too short.”

Savile Row is not behind him. Yes, Sunak’s suits are tight, often in navy, and with trousers cropped to the point where, when seated, a slither of shin is visable from above the sock. But one of the PM’s bespoke tailors, Henry Herbert of 8 Lamb’s Conduit Passage, says this penchant for shrunken slacks stretches further than Number 10. In fact, a slim fit and leg cut to the ankle is everything an on-trend suit wants to be today.

Henry Herbert owner Alexander Dickinson

/ Henry Herbert

“The big difference between a contemporary and traditional suit is the way it fits through the leg and through the waist. Contemporary is slightly sharper, with the trouser a little bit slimmer,” says Henry Herbert’s owner Alexander Dickinson. “The other thing is the length of the trouser. If you are a young guy in the city, you are looking for something more cropped and slimmer on the bottom. If you are a lawyer you’re looking for something more professional,” he says.

It makes sense. Cut the former Chancellor of the Exchequer in half and watch him bleed banker blood; a quick glance at Sunak’s pre-MP CV proves as much. In 2001 he was hired as an analyst at Goldman Sachs before he jumped to hedge funds: The Children’s Investment Fund Management in 2004, and the Californian Theleme Partners in 2009.

Rishi Sunak leaves CCHQ on 24, October

/ Getty Images

Why do slightly-too-small suits get Canary Wharf commuters in a spin? “A guy in the city can get away with bringing the trends into the office. And the trend at the moment is a slightly cropped trouser with a nice loafer,” Dickinson says. And, boy, do we know Sunak swoons for a smart shoe; be it Prada loafers on building sites, or trainers from Common Projects, the A-list’s minimalist go-to, for meetings at Downing Street.

Call him runway Rishi. Glance to Prada’s menswear catwalks — co-designed by Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons, the definitive voices in fashion — and discover they have been the sole reserve of slim fit, cropped suit trousers for the past two seasons.

So much disproves Westminster mutterings that the Prime Minister gets his suits cut short for optical illusion effect, to detract from his modest 5ft6 stature. Stylist Tom Stubbs agrees. “Rishi isn’t wearing tight fitting suits with short leg trousers because he’s small. The look says, “don’t worry I’m normal — but cool.”

Rumours in Westminster say Sunak is partial to a silm fit, cropped suit to help offset his diminutive stature

/ Getty Images

The cropped trouser (or flood pants, like Stubbs says, “as in are you expecting a flood?”) has that mid-sixties mod quality, later pushed into the Savile Row sphere by Hedi Slimane and his early noughties skinny jeans at Dior, and New York tailor Thom Browne, who founded his brand in 2001, and was then, as he remains now, the short tailored trouser’s most committed cheerleader. “It then became another way for men to say, ‘Hey, I’m into tailoring. But I’m not stuffy, my trousers don’t even go all the way’.”

So “baffling”, as Derek Guy tweeted? Sunak’s suits aren’t. They are also no mistake. At Henry Herbet, for example, Sunak will have enjoyed a nine-week experience including four fittings and a bill of at least £2,300.

“Every fit is very dependent on the customer,” Dickinson explains. “Some tailors have house styles, some don’t. We work on the assumption that whatever feels most comfortable works. As a bespoke company, pretty much anything can be cut.”

And Sunak’s order — a little off the bottom sir, if you could.

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