A Magazine, Issue 78

Page 102

A fashion _ tradition

The cult of the dandy

By James Haines-Young

This page Edward Sexton helps an apprentice stitch the panel of a jacket Opposite page A Huntsman bespoke suit jacket made for American actor Gregory Peck in the 60’s hangs in the Huntsman showrooms today

There’s quite simply nowhere else like it. Looking at the unassuming central London street on a grey winter morning, it’s far from obvious that this is home to some of the world’s best suit makers. A small collection of tailors have been leading the way in bespoke tailoring for nearly 200 years, not only shaping today’s suit industry but more or less creating it. A lot has changed since the street’s first inhabitants set up shop, but business on Savile Row is booming. “The cult of Savile Row, the history – there’s a mystique about it,” explains Johnny Allen of Huntsman. The shop opened in 1849, making it one of the oldest Savile Row tailors.

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“As much as the Italian suits are considered great, they still aspire to be associated with Savile Row,” he goes on. Colin Heywood of Anderson and Sheppard, another of Savile Row’s biggest old names, says that there are several things that make Savile Row so special. As well as the finest fabrics – many of which are made in northern England especially for the Row – and the best tailors, they also have a personal relationship with their customers. Each suit is made for the man who wears it and each customer has his own brown-paper suit pattern, which becomes the visual part of the lifelong relationship between cutter and customer.

© James Haines-Young

200 years of tailoring on London’s Savile Row