From studying costume design in Halifax, NS to apprenticing in England to making fine tailored suits for high end customers in Calgary, Allan David Sinclair has been sewing for well over a decade. Zac caught up with his old friend to talk about his brand Allan David Bespoke while reminiscing on the good old days of tree planting and Moroccan adventures.
We've know each other a really long time. I remember how we met but why don't you quickly retell it for our readers, your version?
We first met through working at Dugger's Menswear in Halifax in the summer of 2009. I had recently moved to Halifax. While looking for work, I habitually stopped at Dugger's every week until they relented and hired me. As I remember, we initially did not get along, often butting heads. It took some time before we became friends, and then we became the best of friends.
We all went on an epic trip around Morocco after I quit my job and started working on A+Z full time. What do you remember about that trip?
Morocco was a fantastic experience and a beautiful country. Marrakesh is an incredible city, and the Medina is so vibrant and energetic. Some of the most memorable moments were walking the streets of Marrakesh at night and seeing how the Medina truly comes alive at night in a whole new way. It was nothing like I had ever experienced before. Of course, there was the one time we almost died in the snowstorm through the mountains, but that's another story...
You used to be a tree planter, what do you miss about that job?
For 11 years, tree planting was a significant component of my life and identity as a young adult. What I miss most is the sense of freedom—setting out on the open road every spring to make the journey west, standing at the top of some mountain, looking out over the vast valley below. I was fortunate to see some of the most beautiful landscapes and areas of BC that most people won't ever get to.
When did you learn to sew?
I purchased my first sewing machine in 2010 while working at Dugger's. Initially, I just wanted to learn more about what goes into making clothes and suits. I was fortunate to have some friends and mentors in those early days to show me the basics and guide me. It was a humble beginning, and my interest gradually turned to passion.
What inspired you to move to England to study tailoring and how has that experience shaped you?
At some point, I decided I needed to set a specific career goal and objective. When I decided to pursue sewing or tailoring professionally, it was evident that I only wanted to work at the highest level possible. England, specifically Savile Row, is the epicentre for the world's finest tailoring. I wanted to learn from the best. I found a tailor to take me on as an apprentice, so I moved there in 2016. My experience there is foundational and allowed me to develop my skills and knowledge of the trade.
You live in Calgary now, what is it about the city that made you take up roots?
Moving to Calgary was a very intentional decision. Upon moving back to Canada, we needed to decide where to live and establish ourselves permanently. I needed to be in a metropolitan centre to pursue my dream of bespoke tailoring, and Calgary seemed the best fit. Many decisions boiled down to pragmatic reasons, such as the cost of living, location, community, etc. Calgary seemed approachable because there is room to build a business from the ground up and not be squeezed by the cost of living demands like other Canadian cities.
We recently stayed with you guys at your house while we were out west on our pop up tour. You had some events of your own. What were you up to?
Because I don't have a traditional brick-and-mortar storefront, I have to find other ways of personally interacting with the local community. So, I have focused on creating events, partnering with other businesses, and sponsoring their events to engage through in-person interaction. This past June, I held my inaugural trunk show in Toronto and hope to be making regular visits in the future. I have also partnered with Ferrari of Alberta and sponsored some VIP events they curate for their clients. This fall, I will attend the Bridal Expo in Calgary and donate a bespoke suit as a grand prize for the event.
What advice can you give to someone wanting to go the old school route and learn tailoring?
If someone wants to learn the art and craft of tailoring, they must be dedicated and persistent. I advise aspiring tailors to first take it upon themselves to learn as much as possible through their own efforts. Utilize and leverage any sewing connections to build a strong foundation of sewing techniques before seeking an apprenticeship. A solid foundational skill set that can be further developed through formal training will be of much greater value and demonstrate dedication and commitment to the mentor. Seek out a traditional apprenticeship learning environment, as the body of knowledge is too great for anyone to work through alone.
What's the coolest thing you have ever made for someone?
There are two projects I have made this year that stand out. The first is a shawl collar tuxedo I made for a toddler for his grandfather's wedding. The project's size and scale were tiny compared to a regular adult male, which was absolutely adorable. The second was a western-styled white suit with stunning silk jacquard details. This western suit is perhaps the most stylish and extraordinary piece to date.