Way back in 1913, the most prestigious military and court tailors in London purchased No. 1 Savile Row. Over the century since, the company known as Gieves & Hawkes has become synonymous with London style, residing at the premiere address at what is now the world’s epicentre for fine tailoring. And the man most recently responsible for upholding the reputation? Chief creative Jason Basmajian. The American-born designer’s unique blend of tradition and innovation has seen the house move forward while respecting the past. Because, as Basmajian so eloquently puts it: “classics are classics for a reason”. Read on for more wisdom on dressing for the modern gentleman.
As an American in Britain, what is your take on the state of global menswear today?
Menswear is in a fantastic place these days globally. Men are far more aware of style, grooming, and wellbeing than ever before and business in the Mens area is growing. I am an American from Boston who has lived in NYC, Paris, Milan and London so I have a rather international perspective.
In your role as Chief Creative Officer, who is the man you are dressing?
We are dressing a confident man of style who appreciates great quality in cloth and cut with a modern perspective. He is not extremely conservative but he is also not a fashion victim.
What have you really tried to impress upon him in your time with Gieves and Hawkes?
We want him to feel comfortable with moving his wardrobe forward without sacrificing what makes him feel comfortable. He is always a gentleman and appropriately attired.
The tradition of bespoke suit making is alive and well at No.1 Savile Row. What is the role a bespoke suit plays in the contemporary menswear landscape?
Bespoke is simply the pinnacle of the menswear experience. Clients are dedicated to the craft and uncompromising quality. Bespoke delivers. Our cutters are highly skilled but also young and have a good sense of style. Bespoke is a culture and men enjoy learning and experiencing it first hand at No.1 Savile Row. We have clients ranging between 18 and 92 years of age and have many female clients as well.
For the uninitiated, what is the appeal of a bespoke suit?
It is 100 per cent unique and made for you. From the first measurement, to the pattern making, toile, basted jacket and finished product. It is three months of scrupulous handwork that delivers a product that is made completely for your body and in the exact style and cloth our clients’ demand.
When it comes to fabrication, what are the quality signifiers to look for?
We always suggest pure or natural fibres, especially wool. Wool is cool in summer and warm in winter. It is highly breathable, naturally absorbent, tailors elegantly and keeps its shape and hand feel over time. There are all levels of wool quality, weights and finishes so the selection is virtually unlimited.
If a man was to commission one suit that he could be assured would be current now but last a lifetime, what should he go for?
I would recommend something timeless, simple and elegant; a navy or grey flannel single-breasted three-piece suit will take you anywhere at anytime. A peak lapel on the jacket and an interesting waistcoat lapel could give it a signature style.
How do you define style?
Style is about looking and feeling yourself. It is about your individual personality coming through your clothes. Style goes beyond your wardrobe. It is about how you live your life.
Jason Basmajian sat on the International Woolmark Prize judging panel at the British Isles arm of the award. Find out more at www.gievesandhawkes.com
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