Spinning A Yarn With… Emma Cope

At Dugdale Bros, we love to see long-standing textiles and tailoring traditions being passed on through the generations. Our own story is just one chapter within Huddersfield’s illustrious cloth-making history, so it’s inspiring to see young, talented individuals from the area continuing to drive this narrative forward.

This time, we interviewed Emma Cope – undercutter at Savile Row’s Huntsman – about how she began her career in tailoring, her style inspiration, and her favourite parts of the job. Here’s what she had to say…

1. Where did your tailoring journey begin?

For as long as I can remember I have always sewn and experimented with making garments for myself – I studied Costume before completing a couple of internships.

My first work placement was with Mark Purcell in Birmingham – where I was taught the correct hand stitching techniques for tailoring. Then, in the following years, I completed internships at Savile Row’s Gieves and Hawkes, and Huntsman. Through hard work and determination, I was offered an undercutter role at the latter – which has been a dream come true.

I would love to be on stage!

  1. Who inspired you to become a tailor?

I wouldn’t say there is one particular person. Looking at my family history, we have always worked in the cloth trade or selling garments, so perhaps it was in my blood. I gave tailoring a go and immediately knew it was what I was meant to do.

3. If you weren’t a tailor, what would you be?

A dancer, I would love to be on the stage!

4. Which designers do you most admire?

I love Alexander McQueen’s early tailoring work – particularly his inventive and futuristic use of pattern cutting. I also admire how Olivier Rousteing has evolved Balmain designs – I’m a fan of the bold structured shapes he creates.

5. Who is your style inspiration?

There are a few – Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and The Duchess of Cambridge.

6. What is your favourite part of the job?

I enjoy the challenge of the fittings process. I find it so rewarding to see how a garment fits after I have drafted the client’s pattern to their unique figuration. Also, it’s interesting seeing how fit-related issues can be corrected – this is a problem-solving part of the job.

7. Which of your pieces are you most proud of?

Regarding the work I do at Huntsman, I recently cut a suit for a man who had undergone a lot of surgery and had a figure I hadn’t worked with before. I was delighted with how successful the fittings went, and it was so rewarding to see how happy he and his family were with his new attire! I really love experimenting with pattern drafting, and the feeling of satisfaction that comes from achieving a perfect fitting garment is priceless.

Regarding my own personal projects, I feel my best is yet to come. I am still learning, so everything I make for myself feels like an experiment – and there are always things I’d like to improve upon. I’m very proud with the tailored dresses I have made for myself, as I enjoy creating my own system for drafting the pattern and designing something unique.

I always have a personal project on the go – I love the exciting feeling of wearing handmade garments I’ve made myself.

8. How important are ethics and sustainability to you?

They are crucial. It is rewarding to work in an industry that values maintaining craftsmanship, the environment and a sustainable future.

I believe emphasising the importance of English-woven cloth – in both heritage and contemporary tailoring – is vital for the industry. And, the fact that Dugdale’s fabric is locally woven in Huddersfield is great to see.

9. Describe your style of tailoring in three words…

Elegant, sophisticated and refined.

10. What one piece of advice would you give to anyone wanting to start out in tailoring?

I would say to just have a go, keep practising and ask questions. I believe that if you are passionate about something you will throw your all into it, and in turn you will be successful.

11. What do you hope to have achieved in 10 years’ time?

I wish to carry on cutting and tailoring – strengthening my current knowledge and abilities.

12. If you had to choose one of our cloths for yourself which would it be and why?

I thoroughly enjoyed working with the navy overcoat cloth for my latest project – it gives such a wonderful result – so I would love to choose another fabric from that collection. I adore Dugdale’s grey herringbone wool in that bunch – cloth 6304.

13. If you could describe Huddersfield’s reputation on the global cloth map in one word, what would that word be?

One word is too difficult – charmingly British.

To explore Emma’s work further and find out more about her tailoring journey so far, head over to her Instagram @emma_cope1.