Interview: Chris Kerr, Nick Cave’s Tailor

Chris Kerr photographed by David Buglar

What do Nick Cave, Johnny Depp and Vic Reeves have in common? Simply put: style.

For reasons we won’t bore you with here, we wanted to know who cuts suits for Nick Cave, the sharpest-dressed man in rock; turns out it’s one Chris Kerr of Berwick Street, Soho.

We arrived at the shop to find a venerable, sharply dressed gent holding court in a swish pin stripe chair by the entrance. ‘Yeah, we make Nick’s suits’, he confirmed, while Henrietta, his assistant, promptly produced Mr Cave’s pattern as proof. This chap was clearly a character, and eyeing the pictures of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles on the walls, we sniffed an interesting story; he granted an interview with his son, protégé and now proprietor of the family business, Chris.

Sitting at a pub within eyesight of his shop Chris relayed how things once were on Berwick Street – his father, Eddie, who founded the business used to compete with seven other tailors in the 60’s, but their shop is now the last bastion of a once thriving street level tailoring trade.

Musing on the street’s past Chris suggested ‘there’s only one street in the world that can survive like that these days, and that’s Saville Row’. Things were very different in the 40s, 50s and 60s when many a lad would be taken by his father to have his first suit tailored at 16, before the days of off-the-peg threads. ‘People wore suits all the time, it was the norm; there was none of this jeans business’ he intoned as we shifted a little in our shabby attire.

So other than Nick Cave – who coincidentally rocked up mid-interview causing Chris to dash over to his shop – who does Chris cut for? Vic Reeves, Jack Dee, Johnny Depp and Dermot O’Leary… among many others.

Never ones to dig for gossip, we nonetheless couldn’t resist asking what some of his clients are like. Vic Reeves is apparently ‘a classic example of a man who knows how he wants to look; he’s not being dictated to by anything that’s being sold, he wants to look how he wants to look’. And what of Nick Cave? Henrietta tells us she finds him ‘terrifying, but always polite and courteous’. Well, we think that’s utterly brilliant. Who wants their rock stars to be ‘lovely’ anyway?

Though not exactly cheap, you can bag yourself a suit here at a snip of a Saville Row equivalent, so what seperates a Soho tailor from their Saville row contempories? ‘Geography’, Chris tells us, ‘it’s a small world, the West-End tailoring trade, we all know each other, we have a drink. We’re in the same trade. We’re all spending the same time, turning out that quality, we enjoy what we do – an honest job’.

We finished off with a quick-fire London round:

Where’s your favourite place to eat? ‘Easy, the best bacon sarnie in town at Cafe Tosca on Noel street.’

And your favourite boozer? ‘Again, easy, The Blue Posts, Berwick Street’

Lastly, what would be your top tip for a London tourist? ‘Get off the tube – you’ll be surprised how small the West end is’.

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