David Newell is a mass of contradictions. Garage producer and bespoke tailor, whether pioneering in the studio or on Saville Row, two things have always remained consistent; whatever the endeavour he is top of the game, and does it without a hair out of place.
Back in 1999 Newell produced arguably the biggest song to come out of the UK garage scene ‘Sweet like Chocolate’ by Shanks & Bigfoot, the song that thousands of teenagers first got drunk to, that they swayed and pointed at their crushes to, whilst mouthing the song’s hook sweet like chocolate boy, you bring me so much joy. But whilst his young fans were dressed in the Morgan de Toi and Ted Baker versions of the Moschino, Versace and Iceberg garms that compiled the garage scenester’s uniform, Newell was in his own words ‘a bit of a dapper don’ rocking Daks double breasted blazers, Van Heusen shirts and Farah trousers.
‘When my customer puts on his Newell Bespoke suit for the first time it’s a passionate experience for them as well as me… when a customer sheds a tear after seeing himself in his wedding suit for the first time it’s emotional.’
This innate sense of style meant that the transition from the studio to Saville Row was painless and inevitable, or as he describes it ‘from cutting beats to cutting cloth’. A course in international product design at prestigious Central St Martins University, an institution that cultivated the otherworldly talents of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, imbued him with an appreciation of the blood, sweat and tears that’s necessary in the creation of beauty. The comparisons with the venerated McQueen do not end there; both left St Martins for Saville Row, applying the craftsmanship and skills they’d homed there to their own eponymously-branded creations.
The emotion of the industry famously and tragically overcame McQueen and this is something Newell relates to. He explains that whilst the process of bespoke tailoring can be boring physically, the emotional journey each piece takes you on is anything but; ‘When my customer puts on his Newell Bespoke suit for the first time it’s a passionate experience for them as well as me… when a customer sheds a tear after seeing himself in his wedding suit for the first time it’s emotional.’
His current muse is Oscar winning actor Jamie Foxx, with whom he hit it off immediately, ‘he quite literally wanted the suit off my back to wear for the Spider Man 2 Paris premiere’.
Personality is important to Newell. One image he holds dear is Bing Crosby wearing a Levi’s denim suit in the 1950s, this triggered his love of tailored denim; ‘I created suits in a material people could identify with to spark their curiosity in suits and start their sartorial love affair.’ During his ten year training on Saville Row, Newell had a hand in dressing a broad spectrum of personalities, from politicians and genuine royalty through to pop royalty in the form of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. His current muse is Oscar winning actor Jamie Foxx, with whom he hit it off immediately, ‘he quite literally wanted the suit off my back to wear for the Spider Man 2 Paris premiere’. Having earnt acknowledgement from his modern day muse, Newell daydreams of dressing Muhammad Ali in the 1970s, ‘for me it’s all about the honour of dressing such a legend and spending time listening to his words of wisdom and empowerment, rather than changing his sartorial style’.
No doubt Ali would have worn Newell Bespoke with confidence. Newell recounts a meeting with an important client who was debating whether to lose weight before ordering another suit. Newell explained to him that he could cut a suit to hide any belly, and recommended the client trade his gym membership for a private club membership, telling him ‘I’m the best personal fitness trainer in the world.’
David Newell is currently working on his debut Ready-to-Wear collection, available late 2015. newellbespoke.com
Written by Ms. Harriet May de Vere
Photography by Mr. Bart Pajak