The Savile Row guide

Everything you need to know about Savile Row – from its venerated history to the tailors heading its contemporary revival

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There are few streets in the world that evoke such a sense of storied tradition as London’s Savile Row. As the home of British tailoring, the street in the capital’s Mayfair district is revered the world over for its unparalleled approach to bespoke tailoring, Palladian architecture and hordes of well-dressed men.

A STORIED HISTORY
Tailors began populating Savile Row and some of the surrounding streets late in the 18th century, with Henry Poole credited as being the first to officially open on the strip when he expanded his father’s tailoring business, one that still exists today. The term itself – bespoke – is said to indicate that a piece of clothing is to “be spoken for” by an individual customer, some of which have, over the course of history, included the current Prince of Wales, Winston Churchill, Lord Nelson and Napoleon III.

FINDING A WAY FORWARD
While the relevance of Savile Row’s brand of bespoke tailoring was challenged during the height of fast fashion and the rise of online shopping – in 2006, the number of tailors in the area dropped to 19 from around 40 a half-century earlier – recent years have seen a resurgence in popularity, thanks in no small part to a renewed interest in personalisation in fashion. Where off-the-rack garments proliferate in department stores and high street chains, Savile Row offers a legitimately personal approach to dressing, even as the rules surrounding the requirement of hand stitching in bespoke suiting are relaxed.

Beyond this cultural shift in retail, Savile Row tailoring houses have sought new ways to invent their businesses for the 21st century customer by engaging in special events and initiatives, particularly London Fashion Week Men’s, with highlights including a sartorial takeover of Lord’s; Sheep on the Row, as part of The Campaign for Wool, which saw a flock of Bowmont Merino sheep stationed on the street; and The Ambassadors project, in collaboration with The Woolmark Company and the Savile Row Bespoke Association, in which Hu Bing, David Gandy, Dermot O’Leary and Tinie Tempah each partnered with a tailoring house to create a unique suit and demonstrate the versatility of Merino wool. 

In this ongoing series of profiles, we introduce the stars of Savile Row: the tailors, cutters and makers behind bespoke suiting, an important and enduring part of the global menswear market.

ON THE ROW
Alexander McQueen
Chester Barrie
Chittleborough & Morgan
Davies & Son
Dege & Skinner
Gieves & Hawkes
H. Huntsman & Sons
Hardy Amies
Henry Poole & Co.
Kent, Haste & Lachter
Kilgour
Maurice Sedwell
Meyer & Mortimer
Norton & Sons
Ozwald Boateng
Richard Anderson
Richard James
Scabal
Welsh & Jefferies

OFF THE ROW
Anderson & Sheppard 
Chris Kerr
Dashing Tweeds
Edward Sexton
Kathryn Sargent
Steven Hitchcock
Thom Sweeney

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