Tweed Profiles - Michael Searle
This week's profile is very special to all of us here at WS.
For the last ten years, with a never ending well of enthusiasm and good humour, Michael Searle has run our Fulham Road store. He has entertained customers and staff alike with an endless supply of stories always told in his memorable lilt.
We are all pretending that he isn't retiring...but he is. One of our gifts to him is an open invitation for tea any time at all; which he better take us up on!
Michael T Searle
2. Tell us briefly about your role over the last ten years.
To bring my experience and knowledge to the company, improve the image and add professionalism, which brings confidence to the clients. Promote made-to-measure suiting and pass on my gifts to others.
3. Where did you begin—did you kick off with retail or was there a career change along the way?
Hepworths (menswear) in Brixton, 1966, as a junior.
4. You have told us at WS stories about travelling to America for work. How was it different to the UK, in customers and style?
What goes on in America stays in America.
5. What is the worst suiting fashion you have come across?
The late 90s to early 2000s. Baggy jackets with big shoulders and very baggy trousers. The Italian style gone AWOL.
6. What was your favourite period for men’s dressing?
Mid 60s Mod and early 70s
7. 'All work and no play makes …etc’ How do you like to balance out your work life?
I enjoy most sports—played football and dabbled in golf. I like Crib and have played league for the last 16 years. My main enjoyment has to be darts. I found I had a small skill that I could use. I've won very many trophies and will be getting one this season for the highest finish in our division with 148 shot out.
8. You have gained many regular made-to-measure customers over the years. If you are thinking m-t-m where do you start? Have you got a 'process’ or is it all rather organic?
Every customer is a learning process. You talk and listen very carefully. Access their expectations. Be precise in what you can achieve. Better to lose an order than a customer.
9. Is the customer ever wrong when choosing a suit style and fit? Do you think you have mastered the method for persuading people to try something different, to branch out?
If a customer is spending good money on their looks, you don't persuade them—you tweak them gradually. The big change may be too much of a shock and put them off coming back.
10. What are your top five accessories?
Silk squares, ties, good shoes (polished!) cuff links, plus a good smile makes you look "cool".
11. When do you feel at your most comfortable; suited and booted or the exact opposite?
In the early days, suited and booted. I always felt good but did enjoy dressing down in my natural surroundings.
12. Now you are retired you finally have time to improve your handicap—how long before we see you on the Masters? [Editor is taking bets, everyone!]
I haven't played for a while now, but would enter "The Hackers Championship". I might stand a chance.
13. Can you tell our customers why you are referred to as ‘The Wizard’ by a number of the older staff at WS.
The Wizard came about because of certain individuals in the company who asked my advice about any problem they had and somehow magically I found the answers.
14. What do you think you will miss most about working 5 days a week at WS?
The Store. The inside surroundings are so comfortable. The local customers, meeting people from all walks of life and sharing the 'experience' of Walker Slater.
15. And, better yet, what will you miss least?
The travelling. 2 trains in the morning and 2 going home.
16. Will you be taking up any mildly obscure hobbies—basket weaving, haggis hunting, maybe even Morris dancing?
At my pace, it will be going on Snail Safari in the highlands and hunting the Scottish wild sloth.
17. Are you looking forward to the change of scene in your move to Scotland—how do you think the peace will be in comparison to the bustle of London?
This scares me a little. We will have to see and compromise with the countryside.
18. As tradition dictates we must ask; what is your favourite Scottish word?
19. Got any parting words for us?
'The Wizard will cast his spells no more
No suits or fittings, that's for sure
Fulham's a memory, one to treasure
Great times, laughs and much pleasure
My future will be filled with conjuring new tricks
Passing my time living in the sticks.'
'til we meet again!!
Photograph by Justin Hast