On a recent trip to London I made a point of seeking out the famous Savile Row. I’d watched the 3-part docu-series the BBC had made about Savile Row focusing on it’s changing fortunes and I was really curious about what the street was really like. I did a post on this visit a while back, it can be found here.
This post is very much linked to Savile Row, as Richard Anderson, the author of “Bespoke” has been working on The Row since he was 16, back in 1982, and the book is about his first 30 or so years there. Anyone with even a passing interest in sartorial matters and menswear in particular will at some point have been curious about Savile Row and the traditional tailors that are still the mainstay of the street. We have all read about the eye-wateringly expensive garments they produce, to this day by using skilled and trained craftsmen and the Proper Way of Doing Things. If you’re at all curious about what goes on behind the scenes, this is the book for you.
As mentioned, this is Richard Andersons personal story, written by himself, and starting with his first days as an apprentice cutter. And what a story! Richard writes very well, and obviously has a truly vivid memory. The story, and at times it almost seems to good to be true, flows beautifully. Against all expectations I found myself almost unable to put the book down! And the characters… Savile Row is nothing if not a collection of characters. There can’t be many places you’ll find this much olde British tradition, steeped in history and arrogance. I even found myself trying to Google photos of some of the central characters of the book to add even more flesh to the story.
I found myself utterly taken in by the story and the fascinating characters. One example is the then head cutter at Huntsman, the chain-smoking Colin Hammick. Huntsman at the time was the place for celebrities and aristocrats to have their suits made, and Hammick was the definition of the Huntsman style. Unlike many tailors, he was his own best model, and was once accorded the accolade of ‘The World’s Best Dressed Man’ from the then men’s style authority, The Tailor & Cutter!
Given how this isn’t a novel, I’m in no danger of summing up the storyline, but I can reveal that it does all work out well in the end for Young Richard, the main character. I can heartily recommend the book as a excellent read, and a wonderful look into the mysterious world of bespoke tailoring. I’m not sure if I’m any closer to desiring a bespoke suit from Savile Row, but I have entertained the notion of it.
And as an extra fun bonus, I did in fact spot Richard through the window of his shop, at his cutting table, when I was wandering around The Row!
Note: If you buy this book using one of these links, I receive a small consideration from the vendor in question. This is really appreciated, as it will offset a little of the costs of keeping this blog running and will enable me to buy an Aston Martin that much sooner.