Stevie Blake, owner of Temple Bar’s bespoke tailoring studio Monto and Perri, is building a creative and sustainable hub for Ireland’s fashion lovers through a commitment to fine craftsmanship and innovative style.
Your first collection ‘Black Sheep’ looks incredible, can you tell us a little more about the inspiration for that?
Black Sheep was my closing collection on finishing college. I wanted to enter the professional world with a collection that was quite strong and fun but could still be worn and marketed to the right clientele – I see little use in having a full collection of completely unwearable clothes. I knew I wanted to base the collection on traditional bespoke but still push the boat out a little in regards to the design. I decided to write 5 characters and base a look on each, but the more I explored that idea the more I found each character to be either quite alike my friends and/or myself. The characters are not based on anybody specifically, rather an amalgamation of some of our traits; essentially, for those who want to quietly stand out.
What can ‘custom’ do for fashion lovers that the high street can’t?
Only custom, or bespoke, can give you an exact fit to your measurements. High-street, mass produced clothing are made for exactly that; the masses. You can’t expect a perfect fit from a piece of clothing that was produced to cover as many bases as possible. I’ve noticed that in the past 5 years even the length variables in mass produce clothing have disappeared; it’s rare to see a short, regular and long selection within a single size.
A strong sense of personal style informs what you might want made at Monto and Perri, what advice would you give to people trying to find their own style?
Be explorative and wear your actual size. I’ll be the first to admit that I still make clothes for myself in a size smaller than I am in hope to fit into it. I’ll then have to alter my own clothes to fit because the fitting looks so poor. Sizes are simply measurements; they’re meaningless in regards to the number, but they’re there to indicate what will fit you best. After that, buy things you’d like to wear and if you don’t like it, resell.
How did you develop your sense of personal style growing up in Maryborough? Did living in a smaller part of Ireland pose any obstacles to this?
I went through every single fad and style under the sun growing up. Being from Laois never really stopped me. I’m sure people would make fun of the shit I wore but it’s all part of finding your feet. I can tell you I’d have looked a lot more out of place in a GAA jersey and Azzurri tracksuit bottoms.
What’s your favourite piece that you’ve worked on since opening?
There’s no single piece that stands out above the rest, I’ve enjoyed all aspects of the process. I’m currently working on a bespoke jacket for someone quite special to me and restoring a jacket for a client that special to them. The transformation of clothes through alteration is a really fun part of what I do. In a way it’s giving new life to something for someone who finds that item special enough to focus on.
Overconsumption of clothing is destroying the planet, is custom the future?
I can’t exactly say. Personally I don’t think a bespoke piece will ever take the running lead in the consumer market. People are built to want things immediately and for a low cost and that’s just not achievable through bespoke. I do however think that people should have their existing clothes tailored to exactly how they would like it. When you love something truly you are more inclined to take better care of it or get more wear from that garment.
Have you ever said no to a custom request?
Not quite, for me it’s about making something for someone that they cannot find and I really enjoy that. I have had to turn down last minute projects when I’ve had other work on, and one project with someone quite notable I wouldn’t like myself or my brand associated to.
Finally, what is the mission at Monto and Perri?
I want to make nice things for nice people and put out to the world what I feel it’s missing. I’m working on some things at the moment I think will help make my approach to tailoring more accessible and I’m in the studio 11-7 Tuesday to Saturday for everything else.