A room full of study abroad students typed swiftly at their blog while Rohan Daft reviewed his notes for our lecture. After David Lancaster bought the former gossip columnist, The London Evening Standard, tea from Costa Coffee the lecture was on the way.
Without looking at each computer screen, one could tell that every student had Microsoft Word open. Students banged away at the keys trying to catch a good quote from Daft, who wrote since he was 17-years-old.
The London native spoke right away about Richard James, a Savile Row tailor located on Savile Row in London. “You’re allowed to call yourself a Savile Row tailor if you’re within 50 metres of Savile Row,” Daft said after mentioning the street of tailors spans 150 metres.
The shop is full of modern designer menswear that is customised for every gentleman who walks into the shop that may cost £4,000, whereas a Gucci designer suit may cost £400. “Men aspire to wear Savile Row suits. Savile Row suits are supposed to be the best in the world,” he said. The well-known shop even closed for big-time customer, Elton John.
To be frank, I never heard of Savile Row tailors until Daft mentioned he produces the company’s blog and website. He spoke about the difference between a Savile Row and bespoke tailoring, which just amazed me. A lot of detail and care goes into each suit just like a doctor does when seeing a patient, Daft said.
What inspired students most of the 3-hour class was his interest in food and living in Spain. Who would have known that traveling with a band, writing a gossip column, a Spanish food cookbook, Menu del Dia, and being a feature writer would lead to blogging about a tailor company? “I’ve always been interested in tailoring,” he said.
A few students asked if he has tried Russian cuisine and he named a few dishes that were absolutely foreign to me. One right after another the Russian students said he should try this and that. Words blew over my head and all I could record Daft saying, “I do believe in good food. I think good food is important. People do make things and they put care into it.“ Food led to living in a country, which is understandable because we are studying abroad.
Unlike London, Barcelona had good weather but he could never get used to eating at 10 or 11 o’clock in the evening even after living there for five to six years, Daft said with a laugh. “It was great going there, not knowing what they were saying. It was like being a child again. I had to read people’s faces. They were either happy, sad or angry.” We all – including myself – admired his bravery.
Friends invited him to Spain and he decided to stay. Not much on his back and no job. He started freelancing, wrote for a restaurant magazine, The Daily Telegraph, and taught a journalism class for one year at a university.
“I always wanted to live in another country for a while and sometimes you have to jump,” he explained. “I don’t think you can’t always plan too much. I didn’t have anywhere to live or a job. I just did it.”