Meet Darren Tiernan, Budd’s Senior Cutter
How many years have you worked as a shirtmaker?
This year marks 37 years.
How long was your apprenticeship?
About five years. I started in Bowring Arundel which was located in Savile Row. It was also where our head cutter, John Butcher, started his career.
What were your first apprenticeship years like and what was your mentor like?
It was an old school type of apprenticeship. Finding cloth for repairs and practicing cutting straight lines by following stripes. I trained under the legend, Bobby Whittaker who was firm and had himself been traditionally trained.
How many habits/techniques have you carried over into your career through to today?
I’d actually say all of them! They were good groundings and basics which are the cornerstones of making anything.
What did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to play for Chelsea! Blue is the colour.
Once you began training as a cutter, did you feel that this would be your career?
It took a couple of years until I realised that this was my path and that I would make a career out of it.
Would you advise younger people today to join the trade?
Yes, definitely. The opportunities are becoming less and less across all the trades yet the demand for bespoke is higher than ever. We need to be passing our skills on to the younger generation so that they are not lost.
What advice would you give them?
Keep knocking on doors and see if there are any pre-apprenticeship courses around. Make yourself useful and get to know the trade.
Most memorable order?
I have been lucky enough to been involved with some monster orders for the Middle East which would fill the shop when being delivered over several weeks. It is also fun when you recreate or rather revive an old-school design, like the ¼” pleat dress shirt that we just made for our Kirby Allison x Budd collaboration.
How creative are you?
I suppose this job has helped me become more creative and see the possibility in most things. I am a great doodler and have always thrived on others’ creativity too. My bench is next to fellow cutter, James Macauslan and he is a constant font of creativity. That’s been eye opening at times too!
What are you like with a needle and thread? Can you make as well as cut? Do you have a tailoring background too?
No. Our team of makers in Andover are the geniuses when it comes to sewing. I worked within Savile Row tailoring houses for a decade and so learned a bit of sewing and construction when working and travelling with them, but I would not consider myself as at all skilled when it comes to a needle and thread.
What don’t people realise when ordering bespoke?
I think the information at everyone’s fingertips today has made people more aware and informed before they visit us to order bespoke, but everyone is different. What works for one person may not work for another. What they do tend to forget is how unforgiving a shirt is when it is not right. It can’t hide things like inlay and be let out. They also need to think about how they are going to pair their shirts, what sleeve length they have on their jackets etc.
What age would you recommend someone starts ordering bespoke?
Most of our new bespoke customers tend to be in their 30s which is probably about the right time, although there is certainly not an age limit.
Do you ever advise against bespoke?
I think I wouldn’t recommend bespoke to the very young as they are still growing and maturing, it all depends on what they need their shirt for. I very often suggest made to measure as an alternative. It allows for creativity but is a simpler, straightforward process.
Whose style (past or present) do you most admire?
Easy, Cary Grant was hands down one of the most stylish men ever. As I’ve matured, I have embraced a more relaxed and unstructured vibe which I think suits me well and offers up lots of variety to my wardrobe.
Five words that best describe you?
I don’t know really, probably better to ask the people that work with me?
Hearty, generous, mindful, affable, exacting.
Rucksacks on public transport, and feet on seats.
Most memorable Budd moment?
Perhaps when we launched an anniversary cloth to celebrate my 30 years in the trade. Things got off to a bumpy start when I lost everything but my passport whilst travelling to the mill in Switzerland where we designed and developed the cloth. The end result and initial stress was well worth it though. Celebrating my 30th year reminded me of just how much warmth and kindness there is amongst our customers and trade.
What is distinct about life in the cutting room?
The camaraderie, sharing of knowledge and the banter. We have a lot of laughs. After such a long time working together, there is a lot of short-hand.
Your essential Budd pieces?
Chore or safari jackets, a casual linen shirt and a lightweight scarves .
Dream dinner table guests?
George Best, Oliver Reed, Richard Harris, Tommy Cooper and Anthony Bourdain
Dream Chef for the night?