Relaunched in 2012, Anthony Sinclair Ltd was asked to recreate the three-piece grey suit worn by Sean Connery in Goldfinger for the “Designing 007” exhibition. Here David Mason discusses the company’s James Bond clothing line, including the recently launched Slazenger golf sweater from Goldfinger.
Q&A with David Mason
Anthony Sinclair was renowned for developing the “Conduit Cut”, which became James Bond’s look because director Terence Young was a customer. When you brought back the Anthony Sinclair brand in 2012 did you imagine that the look would be once again sought after and did you envisage the demand for 007 related clothing?
Sinclair’s pared-down look is timeless. It’s really about “style” over “fashion”, and I think there will always be an appetite for that. Nobody does Great British style better than James Bond, and I think Connery (under the guidance of Terence Young) did it better than the rest, so I was always convinced that there would be a place for Anthony Sinclair in today’s market.
The first Bond related item of clothing I think you sold was the Goldfinger suit, but you’re also selling a 007-style shirt with the cocktail cuffs and a range of knitted silk ties in multiple colours, including the black ties that Ian Fleming always dressed Bond in. Was it always your plan to make these available, or did you respond to customer requests?
The Goldfinger suit is probably the most famous piece of tailoring ever created, and as soon as we relaunched the business we were asked to produce a replica of the original for the “Designing 007” exhibition. There was a lot of publicity surrounding that project, and we subsequently took numerous orders for interpretations of the style from private clients. I started my career in shirt-making, and I have always offered bespoke shirts to my customers to compliment the tailored clothing, so I began to get requests for Bond-style shirts to go with the suits. Then, the first ready-to-wear products that we introduced were the black knitted tie and white linen pocket square which completed the Goldfinger outfit.
In addition to full bespoke, we offer a made-to-measure service, whereby customers try on a “stock-size” suit, which enables us to generate an individual pattern based on deviations from the tried garment. We started with a wide range of “try-on” suits (all in plain navy blue) then added “try-on” shirts (in plain white with Cocktail Cuffs). We had a number of customers who wanted to buy the “try-on” shirts rather than wait for made-to-measure, so we made some back-up stock for immediate sales. We then decided to add them to the small range of black and navy ties on our website, and suddenly we were shipping orders all over the world.
The idea to offer the knitted tie in 24 colours was really a bit of fun, playing on the suspense-inducing ploy of the Bond producers in keeping their film titles under wraps… referring only to their upcoming production as “Bond 24”. I wasn’t sure whether they’d be well received, but we sold out in 16 of the colours and had to re-stock.
This month you’ve launched a new 007-related product with Slazenger. The golf sweater is based on the original Slazenger design and sports the logo of the time. How did you become involved with this project, and who initiated it? Was it you, Slazenger, or did it come about in some other way?
Slazenger approached me with the idea, and I didn’t need much convincing. The golf sweater is an iconic piece of clothing and the timing coincided perfectly with the 50th anniversary of Goldfinger, so I jumped at the chance to recreate it. I really felt quite honoured.
How long does it take to revive a classic like this? When did you start working on it and did you have examples to work from?
It took several months to develop the product. We started work in April 2014 and it was a race to launch in time for the Goldfinger birthday celebrations. Other than repeatedly watching the golf scene from the film (which I can now act word for word) we had one or two relatively high resolution still images that were used as reference. We produced numerous prototypes in different colours and qualities of yarn, perfecting the shape and style of the sweater as we went along. The most difficult part of the exercise was recreating the original 1960’s period logo, which had to be perfect.
Slazenger’s head office were very helpful in both allowing the use of one of their old trademarks and in the research undertaken in trying to find it. From their archive, we were supplied with seven (yes 007) different “official” variations of the Slazenger “Panther” logo from the 1960’s (branding wasn’t the precise science it is today back then) but none of them matched the style embroidered on Connery’s famous sweater. The hunt then began for the holy grail of golf-wear… original Slazenger garments from the period. We eventually got lucky, and found a number of sports shirts (new old stock) in their original packaging. The back-neck label, swing tags and outer cover all carried logos that were on Slazenger’s list of seven (and of no use to us), but emblazoned on the front of the shirts was the exact, slim, elegant, outstretched “James Bond” Panther that we had been searching for. It was a special moment.
Are there any particular challenges when recreating clothing such as this compared with designing from scratch? If so how do you get around them?
Obviously, the sweater needed to be instantly recognisable and in many ways (such as the logo) faithful to the original, but I didn’t want to produce a replica. It had to be wearable, modern and relevant whilst retaining the necessary degree of authenticity. I’ve been through the process so many times over the past three years with the Goldfinger suit. Everybody loves the original, but only two of the many suits that we have reproduced have been cut with pleated trousers… and one of those is on tour with the Designing 007 exhibition – ie. a “museum piece”.
The golf sweater is designed to be worn rather than be shown in a glass case. The challenge with a project like this is to keep hold of the spirit of the original and not allow the magic to escape, so that the customer experiences the special kind of feeling he would get from slipping into an Anthony Sinclair bespoke suit or sitting behind the wheel of an Aston Martin – without them necessarily being 50 year old designs.
Who do you think will most be attracted to the Slazenger golf jumper?
People who like Anthony Sinclair bespoke suits and Aston Martin cars.
What is next from Anthony Sinclair Ltd? Is there anything else in the James Bond line you can talk about?
There are lots of exciting projects in the pipeline, but much like the Bond producers, we like to keep some of our plans Top Secret.
Many thanks to David Mason for taking the time to talk to us. The special Limited Edition “Legend” Jumper by Slazenger Heritage Gold, and all other items discussed above, are available on the Anthony Sinclair website:
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