Twice a week since I moved to London, I’ve walked down King’s Cross Road to go to class. Each time I’d pass by Chris Georgiou’s Tailor shop. After two months I decided to walk in and ask if I could take pictures of him at work.
He said “Everyone likes the ‘rubbish’ in my shop and many people take pictures so you can too, but come back on Monday”. So I did.
Now, I’d like to introduce you to Chris, a skilled tailor with over 50 years of experience who is full of stories and full of smiles. He came to London in the 1960s after leaving the unrest in Cyprus. He lost everything during the conflict and had to start over.
As he drew up the lines on a piece of cloth that would become someone’s pants, he gave me a tip.
“I’m 70 and I have perfect eyesight.”
“How did you manage that?”
“I eat a lot of carrots and vegetables. In Cyrpus, everyone had land for a farm and we would have fresh vegetables.”
“You had organic food before it was a thing!”
Chris said he worked very hard to build his business and his biggest regret was not spending enough time with his children when they were young.
“Sometimes when I came home late, I would take pictures of my kids sleeping!”
He said that his shop is small because land is so expensive, but small spaces still work because jewish tailors/ seamstresses made do with very little space in the past, sitting on tables and sewing on their little “cushies” (cushions – picture below).
“Do you make clothes for women?”
“I used to make suits for women but I stopped because [women] change their mind four times a day! I had this one customer who asked for alterations after we had agreed on her fitting, then when she came back again, asked for it to be altered back to how it was in the beginning. I said that’s it, enough. I didn’t want to do that anymore. I don’t know if that is true, but it is my experience.”
Chris was working for another tailor when he decided to buy up a space and start his own shop 45 years ago.
“Sometimes I get customers coming in with their cheap suits made in Thailand saying ‘Hey Chris, what do you think?’ They are my customers and I don’t want to make them feel bad so I say that they look good, but those suits are rubbish.”
“How can you tell?”
“I can see it! That same customer came back to me asking if I would fix some of those suits from Thailand. I said no. He put all 10 suits on my table and asked me to take them away and make him two good suits. My friend ended up taking those 10 suits to sell at the market!”
Chris Georgiou doesn’t work alone. Meet the other Chris. He is a semi-retired tailor who used to have a shop in the West End. Chris and Chris G. are old friends and since last year Chris has been working here part-time.
Chris also left Cyprus in the 1960s and has three children, two girls and a boy. He said his son is a graphic designer who now lives in Amsterdam.
They told me that in Cyprus, you learn how to tailor as an apprentice from the age of 12. The first thing they make you do is to put a thimble on your middle finger and use it to push the needle through cloth to practice sewing (just as he’s doing in the picture below).
Chris has a different style from Chris Georgiou, he adds his flavour to each piece even as he steam irons a jacket
About two hours into my visit, Joseph walks into the shop to say hello. Both Chris and Chris start speaking to him in Cypriot Greek without looking up from their work. Joseph is clearly a regular visitor.
Joseph left Cyprus in the 1950s and told many stories of how the city has changed over the last 50 years. St. Pancreas used to have many garages (auto repair shops) he would visit, the decimal was introduced to the British currency in the 1970s (http://resources.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/questions/moneyold.htm), etc.
“I met Queen Elizabeth when she was still a princess and I couldn’t believe how tiny she was, she looked like a doll!
He also spoke about the difficulties of being an immigrant.
“I’ve lived in London for 50 years but I am still considered a foreigner. When I go back to Cyprus to visit I’m a foreigner…”
I couldn’t help but be moved at how dignified and well dressed these gentlemen were. The way they spoke and how they carried themselves evoked a sense of self-respect, humility and satisfaction of lives well lived.
If you’re a man, visit Chris and get your tailor made suits at: 120 King’s Cross Road, London WC1X 9DS. T: 020 7278 5837
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