On a recent visit to London I had a list of places I wanted to visit. Amongst these were Savile Row, home of Londons Bespoke tailors. Bespoke tailoring isn’t actually something that I consider very “me”, but I can’t help be fascinated by the tradition and craft that lies behind it. Also, the fact that people will actually travel far and spend large amounts to have a bespoke suit crafted for them.
Having seen the 3-part BBC doc about “the Row” , and then read Richard Andersons book (http://www.rippedandsmoothed.com/, actually a pretty good read) about his life from starting as an apprentice on Savile Row at age 14, I was really keen to take a look for myself. It’s not too hard to find, being between Oxford Circus and Picadilly Square, just off from Regent Street. Having located the street itself, I was surprised to find it wasn’t the buzzing hive of sartorial snipping I was led to expect! In fact, most of the buildings on the famous Row have nothing to do with bespoke tailouring. I found the famous bespoke houses, such as Huntsman (a lot of info about this one in Andersons book, though their website makes no mention of the serious blips in their historical heritage in recent years), Norton & Sons (home of the charismatic Patrick Grant), Richard Anderson Ltd (where I could see Richard himself busily cutting inside, see photo) and more.
The most exciting part of walking down the street was being able to look down into the basement workshops and see the tailors busy at work. So I stood for a while taking it in.
I was warned by my girlfriend as I was leaving for London that I wasn’t to order a bespoke suit from a Savile Row tailor. Tempting, in a way, but not really me. And at the price they command these days, very difficult to justify.
Still a fascinating insight into one of the remaining classic British traditions, though today probably no more relevant than stationary steam engines, yet cool in a similar way. One of those things you want to see before it’s gone. They just aren’t enough Colonels taking care of the British Empire these days for the bespoke tailors of Savile Row to continue in business. Unless they can bring in new customers, an era will sadly come to an end.