The Blogging Tailor: An interview with Tom Mahon of English Cut


Savile Row is home to some of the greatest tailoring of gentleman’s suits in the world. The blogging tailor, also known as Tom Mahon is an ambassador for the craft with an honest and insightful blog known as English Cut. Initially, I read about English Cut from Scoble and Israel’s excellent book called Naked Conversations. I really wanted to interview Tom and I was lucky enough to do so a little while ago. Tom is truly a great bloke, the type of guy you’d happily have a pint with at the local pub. Tom blends charisma and elegance and was completely unlike my pre-conceived stuffy images of Savile Row tailors! What makes Tom so different? He’s a wonderful, passionate story teller.

Tom launched English Cut back in 2005 and operates from both Saville Row and his Cumbrian workshook. Tom and English Cut set a great example for others to follow. On his blog, he shares with us about his business trips, he talks about the cutting process of the suits he makes, his past searches for an apprentice as well as the best pubs in and around the Row. I can’t see Gieves and Hawkes doing this, can you? English Cut has helped Tom build his business and for many years he has been showered with work. Tom is an advocate of blogging and firms believes that blogging can help any business, as long as you are passionate and have a great story to tell.

Please find below a mini excerpt of my interview with Tom Mahon

What difference has technology made in communicating business messages?

“In the distant past everyone had a horse and cart and everyone was living by candles. How did you find out about things and get things done? You had to talk. The only way was to find somebody and ask them, where can find this? There was two-way communication going on. There’s wasn’t a book you could open up in the 17th Century to find where to find people you needed. In those days, people communicated through talking. Then, in the 20th Century we were bombarded with billboards and signs and effectively, people stopped talking and started telling! This is the best drink in the world! Why? Because that’s what the sign says”

“All of a sudden technology comes along allowing for people to communicate faster and quicker than ever before and nobody is aware of it. You suddenly realise that everybody is talking again. So, the sign isn’t going to tell me that Guinness is good for me, I’d rather ask someone if Guinness is good for me. Today, I can ask millions of people quickly and efficiently and that’s all it is. It’s a bit weird, its using technology but its gone back to communicating in the old way!”.

How did the other Savile Row tailors take to you blogging?

“They think its good, though some of them think I’m mad! The thing about blogs is, that you’ve got to tell the truth. I don’t say anything bad about anyone, because that’s a pointless exercise, I just tell the truth. So, there’s never any criticism, because there’s nothing to criticise You can’t criticise the truth can you? It might upset you, but you can’t criticise it, you just have to accept it. If blogging has worked for us, it will work any business as long as you have the right ingredients. Passion, devotion, honesty and a great story to tell. It’s probably especially well for me, because I’ve revealed how lovely the bespoke tailoring business is. I can put hand on heart and recommend all of the people I work with. That in itself adds an extra string to Savile Row’s bow”.

What benefits do you find from blogging?

“Blogging is a very good way of subconsciously examining your business. Because you talk and write about things, all sorts of things. People say to me, why do you do that? Sometimes you’ll say, I don’t know really. So, in a very informal way, I think you can actually improve the business because you are getting feedback. Not only customer feedback but from outsiders too, who can act as ‘sterile inputs’ into your business. In the past, it was difficult to answer all the feedback because I was always trapped in a realm of customers and tailors. So, blogging is quite a fine tuning tool. In simple terms it’s the best market research tool ever”.

“Often, I’m thinking about a new country or a city and I’ll say, I wonder if I could sell any suits there? The old way was to get all the results on which businesses were there? What their turnover was and what the average person earns there etc etc. Today, it’s totally different. I’ll write a post that I might go to Wichita Falls, anybody fancy a suit? If I get a response from people who say yeah, then I go! If they say no, then I don’t go. How fantastic is that? The blog gives me such a big voice”.

“I was traveling abroad on a particular occasion and was sitting in a hotel room updating a blog entry. I found an old post that I had written a year or so earlier. I started reading it and became fascinated! When I wrote that post, I was different person to whom I am now. The business was also in a different place. It was interesting to see how my thoughts had developed over the months and how the business had also grown. It was both weird and exciting in reading that post that I had written earlier. I didn’t want to go to bed!”

“With a blog, you can write if you feel like writing, or don’t write if you don’t feel like writing. Believe it or not, my blog was never written to impress anybody. It was not written to gain more sales. Hugh [MacLeod] said to me, just write down all your great stories Tom. Once you soon start blogging, you’ll find that you want to share your thoughts with everyone”.

“Blogging does have its dangers. You can start a blog and say all sorts of things. But sooner or later, if you tell any porky’s, oh boy are they going to be found out and your business will be destroyed! So it keeps you walking a very straight line. We had a tailor once who was a bit of a rogue on the road. He thought he had a command over the Internet as many of the other tailors were older and didn’t use the Internet. He thought no one was paying any attention. He thought he had this captive audience and basically he was telling lots of lies. He lied about other tailors, about his own business and his own credentials. It lasted for a while but then he came down with such a crash because the truth will always out in the end, he’s bankrupt now”.


English Cut has taken a unique approach to marketing by using a blog. Tom has broken with tradition, developed new customers from around the world and has changed the norms of the bespoke tailoring industry. It is essential for small businesses to develop a marketing strategy that corresponds with the changes taking place in the marketplace today. This is why English Cut sees continued success.

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A Blue Monster Special Reserve!


Congratulations to Hugh and Steve on the announcement of Stormhoek’s Blue Monster reserve!  

Blue Monster hits the Financial Times.  How cool is that?

Microsoft launches a tipple for techies

Tonight, a select group will gather in a bar in London’s Soho to quaff a crisp, South African white wine bottled in their honour.

The hand-picked guests toasting the new vintage are not, however, wine connoisseurs but techies. The gathering marks the launch of the Blue Monster Reserve label, created by winery Stormhoek for Microsoft and its employees.

Own-label wine and personalised bottles have become increasingly popular in the corporate world, particularly among investment banks, as gifts to clients and offered to guests of corporate events. The companies hope the corporate vintages will add an air of class and sophistication to their image.

But unlike customised wine bottles given by banks and law firms to clients, this label did not originate in Microsoft’s corporate communications headquarters.

Hugh MacLeod, a cartoonist, blogger and marketing strategist for Stormhoek, created the Blue Monster image after getting to know Microsoft employees.

Mr MacLeod met these “Microsofties” through his day job. “We sponsored a series of ‘geek dinners’ for bloggers and techies in the US and the UK,” he said. “I met a lot of people from Microsoft through these dinners, and they all said the same thing: we want to change the world.

That notion of a kinder, gentler Microsoft is at odds with its cut-throat corporate image. Critics have accused the software giant of abusing its dominant position and of stifling innovation in the industry. In 2003, the European Commission found Microsoft guilty of uncompetitive practices and levied a record €497m ($689m, £342m) fine. The result of its appeal against that decision is due on Monday.

The cartoon of a sharp-toothed blue creature and its tagline, “Microsoft – change the world or go home”, has now been adopted by some Microsoft employees and fans as a symbol of the company’s innovation.

“People see Microsoft as a big, bad corporate monster,” Mr MacLeod said. “Yet all the Microsofties I’ve spoken to say they just want to make great products and do good works. It was obvious that Microsoft had to get better at telling their story.”

“Wine is a social object, and so is the Blue Monster: they both inspire conversation,” he said. “And we thought the cartoon would look really cool on a bottle.”

Steve Clayton, chief technology officer at one of Microsoft’s UK affiliates and a nine-year veteran of the company, said Blue Monster reminded people that Microsoft “has a sense of fun and humour”.

Mr Clayton has been at the forefront of the Blue Monster movement: he uses the image on his business card and is the administrator of a “Friends of Blue Monster” Facebook group.

“[Microsoft’s HQ] has been very supportive of us using the Microsoft name alongside the Blue Monster image,” Mr MacLeod said. It makes sense; they’ve been around for about 30 years and are trying to reinvent themselves to embrace a new generation.”

Blue Monster-branded bottles will be available only to Microsoft and its affiliates. “We have no intention of selling the product outside Microsoft,” said Jason Korman, Stormhoek’s chief executive. “The wine itself only went live last week, and already we’ve had massive interest from different parts of the company.”

Mr Clayton readily admits the Blue Monster movement, despite his involvement, is outside any influence from Microsoft: “[The cartoon] has encouraged a whole new series of conversations by people who are passionate about Microsoft, both internally and externally. Blue Monster is a community which has developed its own distinct identity.”

For Mr MacLeod, the Blue Monster represents a revolution of sorts. “We started an underground movement within Microsoft, and we knew one day the guys in suits would finally take notice. That moment has finally arrived.”

If so, it will be marked in true internet-era style: not with an act of anarchy but a clink of glasses.