Their name means ‘to sew’ in old English and they’ve been tailoring for the great and the good – including Eric Morecambe, Eamonn Holmes and Michael Buble – for 100 years between them.
Now husband and wife team Geoff and Laura Souster of Souster & Hicks in Woburn are marking their combined centenary of service with a special celebration magazine detailing their business background, how their bespoke suits are made and the many celebrities who’ve blazed a path to glory sporting their slick tailoring.
The couple met at the Cavalier Club in Luton and according to Geoff, 65 – the youngest ever president of the Federation of Merchant Tailors in 1988 – it was love at first sight. “She was stunning then, still is now,” he smiles.
“It was the 1960s, the hot pants era. I loved suits, fashion, fabric and when I was expelled from school got a job with a local tailor, W Bell & Son.”
The rest, as they say, is history. He and Laura opened their first shop in Luton in 1978 and they’ve gone from strength to strength. So much so that, from February, customers will be seen by appointment only.
Sons Scott and Wes have joined the family firm, as well as Scott’s wife Natalie.
Geoff’s happiest in jeans, a well cut jacket and smart shoes – “not a ghastly old pair of trainers.”
So how many suits hang in his wardrobe? “I can’t afford to buy my own make,” he quips.
He abhors the current scruffy trend and laments: “Englishman don’t know how to dress down with style.”
He’s seen many a husband dragged into the shop when a family wedding is in the offing. “Aftewards they’re surprised when friends tell them how much weight they’ve lost – when it’s all in the cutting.”
Souster & Hicks was one of the first companies to use a factory made-to-measure computer system, allowing them to produce very competitively priced suits – starting from £750 – as well as their renowned custom-made garments.
So are they taking time off to revel in their hard-won reputation? Not a bit of it! “No,” says Geoff. “We enjoy the work far too much.”