In 1974, Robert Bright, then President of the Federation of Merchant Tailors, founded a competition to find the best tailor in the UK. He secured the support of the Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors, who asked him to design the trophy. He produced a pair of golden cutting shears mounted on mahogany, representing the traditional tool used by cutters and tailors and the benches on which they worked and honed their craft. Over the years, the Golden Shears would become one of the industry’s most coveted prizes, capturing tailors’ imaginations for decades. The biennial awards ceremony has come to be known as the “Oscars of the Tailoring World”.
The Golden Shears is awarded to the entrant whose bespoke clothing is judged for interpretation of design, accuracy of cutting and craft tailoring skills. Judged by professional bespoke tailors, the winner is selected from 60 entrants drawn from across the UK. The highest scoring 24 entrants then go onto the gala catwalk show in Merchant Taylors’ Hall, London, where professional cat walkers model the entries to an audience from the world of fashion, tailoring, and education. At the final, a panel of five VIP judges mark the garments for style. In past years, VIP judges have included Joanna Lumley, Nick Hewer and Raymond Blanc, this years judges were: supermodel Jodie Kidd, Dragon’s Den entrepreneur Piers Linney, actress Jennifer Saunders, fashion designer Betty Jackson and Lord Grade of Yarmouth, former Chairman of the BBC.
Since 1998, the award has focused on supporting education in the industry; now only industry trainees and students on dedicated tailoring courses with less than a total of seven years of further education and training are eligible to enter the competition.
Alongside the Golden Shears and generous cash prizes, two Silver Shears were added: a second place prize and a ‘rising star’ award. In 2015, there was a top prize of £2,500 for the finest entry won by Joe Holsgrove, £2,000 for the runner-up Dionne Reeves, and £1500 for the “Rising Star” won by Nuriya Kabirova.
The CAPITB Trust has been a proud major sponsor of the last three Merchant Taylors’ Golden Shears competitions and looks forward to many years of working together to promote the necessity of quality training in the clothing industry.