Fashion designer David Adams on setting up coworking studio The Disguisery Collective

Interview with David Adams, a bespoke suit maker who's just set up The Disguisery Collective, a 1500 sqft studio designed for fashion designers, tailors and freelancers at Hackney Downs Studios.

Tell us about you and your craft?

DA: I make bespoke suits for people, suits that are beautifully handcrafted using traditional methods, but with an artistic quirk. Small influences from art and design that sets my unique suits apart.

After doing this from my bedroom for many years I needed a change of scenery, something that would help turn a hobby into a business. My first that after having a good experience doing my BA at London College of Fashion was to return to university to see if the new experience could help me expand my practice.

I was accepted to Central Saint Martins to study an MA in Menswear Design. However, it became clear that without a large pot of gold I wasn't going to be able to afford to cover the cost of the course let alone the cost of a collection. I could also see that it was going to be unfeasible to continue to run my business while doing the MA.

I withdrew from the course, what particularly struck me was how transformative it was to get up everyday and going to a place of work. I wished there was a place exactly like this without the cost of an academic course, a place with all the benefits combined with the freedom to run your business. So I decided to build my own.

What is your vision for The Disguisery Collective?

DA: My vision for The Disguisery Collective is to help and watch people grow creatively. It's a brand new creative co-working environment offering shared tools, networking, workshops and courses. 

A place to unlock potential, where people can be motivated and learn from each other. All the things I didn't have working alone in my bedroom.

Who is your biggest creative influence?

DA: There are so many people whose work I appreciate creatively speaking, anyone from musicians, filmmakers, glass blowers, carpenters, artists, to aerospace engineers.

Was there a turning point from becoming a maker to an entrepreneur?

DA: It's a difficult thing when it comes to entrepreneurship and artistry. The two can sometimes be at odds with each other and some people can fall into the trap of thinking you can only be one or the other. For me this was true, I was terrible at making money from my art or putting a monetary valve on anything I did. I was afraid that starting the collective and thinking commercially would damage my creativity, but actually it's the opposite, I now need to be creative to think of ways to make money, I also have to be creative in the best way to spend money. I love it. Nothing like throwing yourself in at the deep end.

You recently launched your courses starting in Feb, who are these aimed at?

DA: The courses are aimed at anyone interested in the world of Bespoke Tailoring. There is no substitute for listening to someone speak passionately about their craft and wanting to share it with other people. My aim is to reach those people who at the back of their mind want to know more, yet might lack the conviction to pay a lot of money to do a longer course at university or completely change career by starting an apprenticeship. It's a friendly knowledgeable environment for people to come and test the water.

You're welcome to come have a glass of wine and learn about the industry/suits/cut and style, or perhaps you just want know how to make things for yourself and you want to come a few evenings a over a month to learn some invaluable tailoring skills. 

How important is it to be around people pursuing creativity and making it work?

DA: Working around other people is massively important to me now. It's funny because I used to feel the complete opposite. 

I used to think as a creative I needed to shut myself off and not have any outside influence or judgement. A lot of that comes from being self conscious about your work, but it is the worst thing you can do. I found it particularly difficult as I am diagnosed with bipolar so trying to find that balance between introvert and extrovert. 

The only way to build confidence working around other people is to do it. The first time I was asked to return to London College of Fashion to teach a masterclass in bespoke tailoring was crucial. After the first ten minutes, years of knowledge came pouring out. I found I was trying to do whatever I could to instil that passion and craft in other people. I soon found a lot of my neurosis started to fade away and it was a massive confidence boost.

What's next?

DA: To begin with I'll be aiming to fill The Disguisery Collective with interesting people and launching my courses.

I'll also be expanding my own bespoke label, David Adams Quirkessential Tailoring, and starting womenswear. I'll be offering new products such as a made-to-measure service and bespoke silverware, I recently carved some bespoke cufflinks myself which was fun. I am also working on a couple of new labels which will be mostly ready-to-wear and a slightly more casual collection, so hopefully have a new brand and collection ready for A/W 2016.

Suits & Courses:

Photo by

More like this