David Parkin on being suited to a role alongside David Gandy and going all Groucho Marx

OF all the jobs I fancy doing, “brand ambassador” is top of the list.

You’ve seen them, whether it is David Beckham and Breitling or George Clooney with Omega, down to a flurry of reality TV stars who promote particular products, being an ambassador for a brand looks a great job to me.

But who could I work with?

Seeing pictures of the model David Gandy at an event in London gave me an idea.

Gandy and I have a lot in common.

Shut it and let me explain.

We both tend to bring out in the inner Kenneth Connor in women (“Cor, look at him, phwoar!!”) and we both like our clothes.

To be fair, he tends to pose in his undies in public more than me.

I prefer to do that in private (#ripped).

David Gandy and footballer turned Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp are both brand ambassadors for a Mayfair tailors called Thom Sweeney.

It is nice gear, but over priced.

Call me old fashioned, but if you are going to trumpet the benefits of a brand or product, then you have to believe in it.

So that got me thinking and I popped along to the premises of Leeds tailor James Michelsberg for a coffee.

Sitting in his dark wood showroom in the Victoria Quarter I outlined my idea to James, a gregarious man creative enough to spot a great opportunity when it is presented.

And daft enough to listen to me.

I met James many years ago when he was a frustrated recruiter (is there any other kind?) when I was at the Yorkshire Post and he told me he was pursuing his dream to launch a tailoring business.

It hasn’t been without its challenges, particularly when he teamed up with an eccentric suit maker whose love of a sherbert tended to affect the fit of the garments produced.

But now, with smart premises on the balcony of the Victoria Quarter and his colleague Charlie Anderson based out of the high end Hotel Gotham in Manchester, Michelsberg Tailoring is one of the leading lights in its field in the North of England.

James has constantly strived to produce the best possible garments for his clients.

And while he can make the charcoal grey chalk stripe double breasted number with roped shoulders for a stockbroker, James has focused on softer tailoring, sometimes known as the Neapolitan style, which features little or no padding in the shoulder and a lighter chest canvas and lining that allows the suit to sit closer to the wearer’s body without feeling restrictive.

Beautifully made at workrooms in Italy, Michelsberg suits still give the wearer the feeling that they are donning the modern equivalent of a suit of armour but it is sometimes hard to believe you are wearing a suit.

When I went to see James he sprung up from his chair to find a booklet of cloth samples (known as a bunch) from the luxury Italian cloth maker Loro Piana.

I picked an exotic blue shade from its ‘Travellers’ cloth range made with a high twist which James says is favoured by international jetsetters.

I thought it would be useful next time I’m squeezed into a seat on the number 36 bus between Leeds and Harrogate.

I’ve always been into my suits and wasn’t even put off by an unfortunate early experience with a petrol blue number in Thailand.

To be fair I could have come back from Bangkok with a lot worse.

So I was in my element discussing the benefits of a high gorge, higher arm holes, three roll two buttoning and side adjusters on the trousers.

James even threw in a Milanese buttonhole – hand stitching around the lapel buttonhole.

When I went to try it on last week, just six weeks after being measured up, the suit fitted perfectly.

I suppose it helps that I have model-like proportions.

Don’t titter, I was once described as a sawn-off Chippendale.

The photo above might suggest I’m not very tall.

But don’t be mistaken.

James and Charlie are very tall men, both over five foot eight.

My Michelsberg suit is currently hanging in the wardrobe and while I’m desperate to don it, the first outing will be when I compere the Lord’s Taverners Balloon Debate next month.

I could get used to this brand ambassador job.

So what do I need next?

A car, a watch, some shoes…

Visit www.michelsberg.co.uk or call James in Leeds on 0113 2420 840 or Charlie in Manchester on 0161 638 3896


WHILE I was adding a new Michelsberg suit to my wardrobe, I was making space thanks to a great initiative by Suit Direct.

The menswear retailer has teamed up with charity Emmaus Leeds to help support those who have experienced homelessness and social exclusion.  

The formal wear specialists are encouraging both local businesses and residents to donate unwanted footwear to help people get back into work after a difficult time – or help them to prepare for a first interview.

What a great idea. I fished out two pairs of Grenson shoes I no longer wear (I favour Cheaney Shoes these days, actually, do they need a brand ambassador?) and donated to Suit Direct, which is also offering tips to improve the confidence of people looking to get back into employment.

If you want to support this initiative then dig out an old pair of pre-loved work shoes in wearable condition and drop them off at a Suit Direct store or its Leeds-based digital agency, twentysix digital, 28 Soveriegn Street, Leeds, LS1 4BA.

For more information, visit the Emmaus website https://www.emmaus.org.uk/leeds and for more business style tips, visit the Suit Direct Blog.


WHAT was that old Groucho Marx quote?

“I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member”, was among the best lines from a man who could fill a book of quotations on his own.

I felt a bit like Groucho the other day when someone posted on Linkedin asking who was the most connected person in Yorkshire.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a few people had thrown my name into the pot, but when I looked at the other suggestions my heart sank.

It appeared a motley collection of professional networkers, mentors and consultants.

To be fair, I recognised the name of veteran accountant Colin Glass.

He is a man who taught me many things, including how to dress well.

I have never seen a man rock a drip-dry nylon shirt like Colin.

Have a great weekend.


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