British Sartorial Institutions: The Best Tailors On Savile Row
Savile Row may be, in itself, a famous name in menswear, but who are its stand-out tailors? Here’s Ape to Gentleman’s run-down of just some of the tailoring mecca’s well-established leading lights, together with a few off-the-row but unquestionably good enough to be counted among the capital’s key players in providing the world’s best suiting.
On Savile Row
Gieves & Hawkes
With a history traceable back to 1771, it’s hardly surprising that Gieves & Hawkes is probably the most famous tailor on Savile Row – and that this doesn’t automatically conjure up images of fresh design and progressive styling. After all, Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington both wore Gieves. But then so did Ian Fleming. Gieves’ ready-to-wear line is slick and a genuinely viable alternative – double-breasted numbers in wool and cashmere herringbone, for instance – and its bespoke, unlike the many tailors who outsource their work, is made in-house.
Best for: A military-oriented cut, with a full chest, slim arm and natural shoulder.
1 Savile Row, Mayfair, London W1S 3JR; gievesandhawkes.com
Known since 1937 as Kilgour French Stanbury and renamed in 2003, Kilgour was overhauled with fresh, contemporary image – making it one of the first of Savile Row’s old guard to revamp with modern retail in mind – putting it both on track as a luxury brand to watch out for in years to come and on the backs of many a sharp-dressed celebrity.
Best for: A waisted, two-button, double-vented suit with structured chest, flaring from the hip.
5 Savile Row, Mayfair, London W1S 3PB; kilgour.com
Ozwald Boateng the brand is also better known for being fronted by Ozwald Boateng the man than it is its clothes. But then the statuesque and exactingly groomed Ghanaian – with Maurice Sedwell the only black man in Savile Row, which may be revealing of its “establishment” history – has also created a bold, distinctive signature style for the modern peacock.
Best for: Fresh colours and glossy fabrics, tapered trousers, concealed buttons and angled pockets.
30 Savile Row, Mayfair, London W1S 3PT; ozwaldboateng.co.uk
James caused a furore when he, together with Sean Dixon, launched his eponymous company – he was widely criticised by the traditional houses of Savile Row for being more stylist than tailor. “It’s true that a lot of people on Savile Row don’t like what we do,” he’s said. “We’ve been called all sorts of things, parasites especially. But we have tried to bring our generation back into buying tailoring.”
One of the first new wave tailors to advertise, to tailor in denim and camo, James’ “modern ideas” have nevertheless made him the fashion follower’s favourite. In 2001 the British Fashion Council named him Menswear Designer of the Year.
Best for: A narrow, longer cut, typically three-button and single-breasted, with a double vent.
29 Savile Row, Mayfair, London W1S 2EY; richard-james.com
Richard Anderson formed his own tailors in 1999 after 20 years as an apprentice and then head-cutter at Huntsman, a long-established Savile Row tailors. The company quickly went into expansion mode, acquiring tailors Strickland & Sons, and went on to establish a reputation for its use of unusual and often exclusive fabrics: orange melton, stonewashed silk, a signature diagonal pinstripe, even cloths woven with gold thread or diamond chips, or lapis lazuli blended with cashmere.
Best for: A hacking/hunting jacket cut, with high arm hole, natural shoulder, long-line and one-button fastening.
13 Savile Row, Mayfair, London W1S 3PH; richardandersonltd.com
Off The Row
Allen is one of British bespoke tailoring’s best kept secrets. With a huge fan-base across the London arts and media worlds, Allen’s soft suiting has hit the mark with those who want an essentially classic, but slightly alternative take on suiting. Indeed, over the years Allen has had fingers in many a menswear pie, among them as creative director of Austin Reed, and as head of the Royal College of Art’s menswear course.
Best for: Soft, deconstructed suiting using open sleeves and light chest pieces.
1 Coopers Yard, 181 Upper St, Islington, London N1 1RX; charlieallen.co.uk
Established by Tony Lutwyche in 2000, opening a workshop in Crewe in 2006 and acquiring Chester Barrie a few years later, Lutwyche is another one of the major names in bespoke tailoring whose name may not be that familiar. But city big-wigs, professional sportsmen and corporate lawyers (perhaps given the nod by his QC wife) come flocking.
Last year it opened its first pop-up shop (preempting a permanent one perhaps) and also runs its Academy, training up tomorrow’s new tailors.
Best for: Single-breasted, side-vented, two-button suit in blue wool mix mohair and lightweight lining.
25 Sackville St, Mayfair, London W1S 3EJ; lutwyche.co.uk
Everest trained under legendary London tailor Tommy Nutter (much as Thom Whiddett and Luke Sweeney of Thom Sweeney trained under him) leaving to work as a stylist to the music industry before, in 1991, returning to tailoring with the opening of his own tailoring business.
The diversity of his viewpoint – he’s designed collections too for the likes of Daks, Marks & Spencer and, since he’s a cycling nut, Rapha – has no doubt also helped him become a favourite for the film industry. The Crown, Paddington 2, Man from UNCLE, Spectre, Mama Mia and Prometheus all featuring his tailoring.
Best for: A modern update of three-piece suits with a subtle quirk.
35 Bruton Place, Mayfair, London W1J 6NS; timothyeverest.co.uk
Powell is, arguably, more the designer-tailor. Often billed as the “Savile Rogue” or the Man Who Dressed the Krays in the late part of their lives, visiting the notorious London gangsters in Broadmoor Prison to measure them up, Powell, who launched in 1985, was arguably the first of the so-called “nouveau tailors” and has certainly been among the most imitated.
From his small backstreet studio in Soho – “a great, exciting place to be, with the crack dealers on one corner and the film industry on the other,” as he’s put it – Powell has been valued for a bolder, less classic take on suiting. He has a deserved reputation for preempting tailoring trends, be it boxy jackets or boot-cut trousers, three-piece 1930s style or broad-shouldered 1980s.
Best for: Highly detailed, Edwardian and other period styles, stripes and signature flared cuffs.
2 Marshall St, Soho, London W1F 9BA; markpowellbespoke.co.uk
Steven Hitchcock Bespoke
Hitchcock may the Row’s youngest master tailor but he’s already made suits for royalty. More a traditionalist – he trained at the arch old-school tailors Anderson & Shepherd, with whom he shares a certain style – Hitchcock’s specialist cutting technique is known as soft tailoring.
Popular during the 1930s to 1950s – indeed, it defined the hugely influential style of that mannequin about town the Duke of Windsor – it keeps the suit formally structured but not uncomfortably bullet-proof as some can be.
Best for: A soft shoulder, flatter chest and more unstructured jacket, for comfort and ease of movement.
58 Chiltern St, Marylebone, London W1U 7QZ; thesavilerowtailor.co.uk