Our personal journey is full of symbolism, but often—despite the flashing lights telling us to go “here”—life needs to have patience with us until we find our way.
Such is the case for fifth generation, Savile Row trained and award winning Master tailor, Rory Duffy. As one of five siblings, Duffy distinctly remembers as a child, being disciplined in primary school for opting to sew with the girls rather than play with the boys.
Even being around his grandfather, Pat McCabe, who was a Merchant tailor, and knowing the rich history of his ancestors, Duffy expressed little interest in the tailoring or the fashion industry as a potential career. Duffy’s first choice, after graduating his second levels was furniture design school, and then industrial design. Despite stellar grades, Duffy felt as though something was amiss. It wasn’t until he tried impressing his roommate and date to a winter formal that he found his true calling. Thanks to his mother’s domestic sewing machine and an old forgotten skirt, Duffy make a short jacket over the course of the weekend. His only aide during those few days was his previous hand sewing knowledge and his grandfather’s tailoring books. His date was so impressed by how perfectly the jacket fit her that she encouraged him to follow the family trade and become a tailor.
From that moment on Duffy set out to train under the best. While enrolled in the Irish Reserve Defense Forces he simultaneously apprenticed under the best his country had to offer including: third generation bespoke tailor Joseph Martin; master tailor, Eugene Foley; Savile Row trained tailor David Young; and Master Cutter, Peter Fletcher at Louis Copeland & Sons. During this time of workshop training, Duffy also earned hands on client experience as head tailor for Anthony McCann’s workshop on Chapel St.
Duffy’s next move was onto Savile Row in London, where many of his masters had trained. Over the course of four years, he attended the London School of Fashion’s Handcraft Tailoring course, receiving top marks. He then went on to intern with Henry Poole under Master Coat Maker Paul Frearson and trained under Chris Flourenzou, trouser maker to Savile Row and the West End. By 2009, he had accomplished what no one else before him. He won the coveted Golden Shears award on the same night that he finished his third apprenticeship.
After the triumph of winning the Golden Shears Duffy took on his own apprentice, Emily Squires. As Duffy fast tracked Squires’ coat making apprenticeship, that would have set her to finish in two years, New York presented fresh opportunities for his career. In 2010 he moved to Brooklyn and occupied a private work shop at Martin Greenfield’s factory. By 2012 Duffy left Greenfields to open his private atelier in Williamsburg, under Rory Duffy Bespoke. There he serves both male and female clients alike. He also currently works with tailor’s tailor, Henry Bailey in the UK, as the representative of their American brand. When he isn’t serving clients, he additionally lectures part-time at The Parsons School of Design, giving back to the next generation of bespoke tailors.
Rory Duffy is an award-winning bespoke tailor based in New York City.