Nathan Palmer, bespoke tailor, makes his mark in the world of fashion

(Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)

Nathan Palmer was a promising sportsman in his youth, impressing in both rugby and athletics, but his life changed for ever when he suffered a serious hamstring injury in his early 20s. With a career in sport no longer an option, Nathan had to consider other options and his has gone on to create Nathan Palmer Bespoke. Here, he tells SME Magazine his story …

Nathan, can you start by telling us about your business – when was it formed and what was the motivation behind it?

I started my first fashion brand in 2010, which was called Nathan Palmer Clothing, initially. My first collection was created using bamboo fabric, which had brilliant properties for sustainability as well as being comfortable against the skin. It was a small range of jumpers, crew and V-neck as well as cardigans, which was sold in independent stores from here in Cardiff, up to Scotland. I pursued my passion/hobby while I was still a professional sportsman at Newport RFC that turned into a profession I now deeply care about. Playing full time rugby gave me the opportunity to be flexible and have a work-life balance.

What sparked your interest in fashion and when was that?

My interest in fashion was sparked at a young age. My godfather was a tailor and I had small insights to how clothing was made from his sewing room. I was allowed to do small jobs, where I learnt about his power to express creativity and individuality. Since then, I’ve been drawn to its dynamic nature and ability to influence culture and self-expression, which led me to a career in fashion design.

As well as bespoke suits, shirts and women’s dresses, you also have a streetwear brand called Perverse Demand. Tell us about that.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024

Perverse Demand is luxury streetwear with a difference. Perverse Demand is based around the ‘Sneaker head’, ‘the skater’, and ‘urban street wear wearer’. It’s the alter ego, where worlds collide and are brought together in forms of clothing and lifestyle, which is exciting. It pushes the creative sphere of fashion, following current trends, colours and fashion predictions, allowing people to push their identity towards fresh and exciting fashion heights.

You began a design course at university but quit after two years. Why was that and what happened next?

I had a love/dislike relationship with university. I didn’t apply myself as much as I could have done and I always knew what I wanted to do when it came to my progress and future within the fashion industry. I embarked on my design course driven by my passion for creativity and innovation. However, after two years, I realised that my true calling lay elsewhere, prompting me to reassess my path. I got to a stage where I wanted to take a leap of faith and pursue creating a clothing brand. I have had many challenges, triumphs and failures. Subsequently, this decision ultimately led me to discover my true ability and strengths, setting me on a path that aligns more closely with my aspirations and goals. Even now, each day has something different in store for me. I continue to learn, adopt and change constantly in order for the suits/perverse demand brand to remain current and relevant for new and exciting clients and customers.

The TV presenter Jason Mohammad once asked you to make him a suit. How did that come about? Do you have any other celebrity clients?

The opportunity to create a suit for Jason Mohammad came about at a time that I was playing rugby for Canton RFC. Our team was invited to go on to a Welsh TV programme called Scrum 5. We were all sitting in the audience as Jason presented the show. He spotted our team polo shirts, which  I had designed. This led to Jason and me having a conversation about the polo shirts. I said to Jason that I created ‘made to measure suits’ and the rest was history. He invited me to his home for us to discuss it further, I made Jason a suit and collaboration bloomed from there. It was a rewarding experience to collaborate with him on his tailored suits, made to his style and preferences. As for other celebrity clients, I have made suits for many, such as Ian wright, Sam Warburton, Sol Bamba, Graham Norton, Aston, Marvin Humes and others. While I value the confidentiality of my clients, I have had the privilege of working with individuals from various backgrounds who appreciate quality craftsmanship and personalised service.

When you were younger, you were a talented athlete – you broke Colin Jackson’s U17 hurdling record and actually played for Wales at rugby 7s. Can you tell us about that and how/if the demands of being a top class sportsman helped you in your business life?

Yes, indeed. My younger years were filled with a passion for athletics, during which I achieved notable milestones such as breaking Colin Jackson’s U17 hurdling record, representing Great Britain in athletics, representing Wales in rugby 7s and playing professional rugby for Newport just before they merged into the Dragons. These experiences instilled in me valuable lessons and skills that have seamlessly transitioned into my business life. The demands of being a top-class sportsman taught me the importance of discipline, resilience, and goal-setting. Training rigorously to excel in sports required dedication, perseverance and the ability to stay focused on long-term objectives—a mindset that directly translates into the world of business. Furthermore, being part of competitive sports teams taught me the significance of collaboration, communication, and leadership. These skills have been invaluable in fostering successful partnerships, managing teams/expectations and navigating the challenges of entrepreneurship. Overall, my athletic background has served as a solid foundation for my business endeavours, equipping me with the determination, strategic mindset and interpersonal skills necessary to thrive in the competitive landscape of entrepreneurship.

You ran a Bespoke 1800’s Black Tie Gala event last year with Colin Jackson as host. How did that go and are you planning to do it again?

Last year’s Bespoke 1800’s Black Tie Gala event with Colin Jackson as host was a tremendous success. The combination of exquisite period-inspired fashion, captivating ambience, and Colin’s charismatic presence made it an unforgettable evening for all attendees. We received overwhelmingly positive feedback and are thrilled with how the event turned out. Regarding future plans, while nothing is set in stone yet, we’re certainly considering the possibility of hosting another gala in the future. Stay tuned for updates on upcoming events—we’d love to recreate the magic and elegance of last year’s gala once again!

Where do you hope the business will be in five or ten years’ time?

In five to ten years’ time, I envision my business flourishing as a recognised leader in the fashion industry, known for innovation, quality and exceptional customer service. I hope to see my brand expanding its reach, both nationally and internationally, with a diverse portfolio of products and services that cater to the evolving needs of our clientele. Additionally, I aspire for my business to make a positive impact beyond just financial success, whether through sustainability initiatives, community engagement, or philanthropic efforts. By prioritising ethical practices and social responsibility, I aim to build a business that not only thrives economically but also contributes positively to society and the environment. Ultimately, my goal is for my business is to continue growing and evolving, remaining agile and adaptable to changing market trends and customer preferences, while always staying true to my core values and commitment to excellence.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024