Savile Row may be known for its history of great tailoring, but its residents have their sights set firmly on the future. From historic establishments making contemporary menswear to the new brands setting up shop on this famous street, we take a look at the modern face of this world-famous tailoring destination
Often known as ‘the golden mile of tailoring’, London’s Savile Row is one of the world's most famous destinations when it comes to bespoke menswear, and with good reason. It is home to some of the most talented tailors in the field, and the street’s name has become a byword for excellent suiting. For men or for women, the classic or the contemporary, there is no better place in London for made-to-measure clothing.
For men or for women, the classic or the contemporary, there is no better place in London for made-to-measure clothing
The first tailors made their home on Savile Row at the turn of the 19th century, attracted by the affluent residents of Mayfair, which remains one of the city’s most upmarket neighbourhoods. None of the original firms remains, but many of today’s establishments have long histories on the street, including Henry Poole & Co, which has had a presence there since 1846, and today occupies 15 Savile Row.
The firm’s eponymous founder ran the business from 1846 to 1876, during which he outfitted the future Emperor Napoleon III of France, was employed by Queen Victoria and was tailor of choice to the Prince of Wales, who became King Edward VII. By the end of his three decades at the helm, Poole had played a huge part in establishing Savile Row as a haven for bespoke tailoring, and Poole’s as one of its shining stars. By the early 1900s it was the largest establishment of its type in the world, employing 300 tailors and 14 cutters.
To this day, discerning gentlemen travel to London from all parts of the world to be fitted for a bespoke suit at Poole’s. The company is credited with creating the dinner jacket (aka the tuxedo), so this is naturally a popular choice. But the team offers everything from morning and evening dress to bespoke blazers, sports jackets, shirts, coats and – of course – suits, along with a wide array of beautiful accessories. Clients can choose from over 6,000 fabric swatches – all of the finest quality – and the team will make each piece to your exact measurements.
Just as Henry Poole & Co has evolved with the times, so too has Savile Row, and the street is also home to a number of leading fashion brands. Ready-to-wear was first introduced in the 1970s by such brands as Gieves & Hawkes and Hardy Amies, but the arrival of international names is a relatively new development.
French fashion house Lanvin has its London menswear flagship here, which offers the brand’s men’s ready-to-wear collection, its trademark luxury bow ties, a wide range of accessories and leather goods, and even a made-to-measure suiting service. For Lanvin, Savile Row was the natural choice of location. ‘It’s mythic,’ said Alber Elbaz, Lanvin’s designer at the time of the opening. ‘For me, in London, there was no other place.’
Dean and Dan Caten, the twin brothers who are co-creative directors of catwalk label Dsquared2, had similar feelings when it came to opening their own store.
‘Our London flagship store is very special for us because we live in this city, which is a constant influence and source of inspiration for us,’ say the pair. ‘It is not by chance that we chose the Savile Row intersection with Conduit Street as the position. Over the years, Savile Row has been one of the most important destinations for fashion-conscious men and has become synonymous with high quality, tradition, originality – values which are imbued in our designs as well.’ The boutique carries the brand’s full range of collections, including contemporary tailoring in new wools and stretch cottons and even womenswear.
Although there have been exciting new developments in the past few decades, the heart of Savile Row remains the art of the bespoke suit.
As Tess Harriott, business development manager at 40 Savile Row, explains, this is a product whose appeal transcends age, occupation and the like. ‘The 40 Savile Row customer varies from a young fashion-forward teenager, to graduating students choosing their first interview suit, to professionals in banking, law, insurance and so on. We also have customers who have always dreamed of having a Savile Row suit and will treat themselves for a special occasion.’
The family-run tailoring business is a shining example of the exemplary service available on the street. ‘Everyone is welcome,’ says Harriott of the store. ‘We all have over 15 years’ experience in the business so can cater to all shapes and tastes and will guide the customer to make the best choice for them. We are all perfectionists, so we will not let a suit leave the shop unless it is of the highest standard, especially the fit of the suit. The aesthetic of the suit is totally designed by the customer and this is what makes it unique.’
Combining the timeless luxury of bespoke apparel with an ability to embrace every style and trend, it’s no wonder Savile Row remains world famous.