April 27, 2010

saints of savile row...

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(as elegant as it gets)

We made it home with only a slight delay. To be fair our airline was pretty efficient. It'll take us both a week to recover as we packed in a total of eight flights whilst we took Savile Row to the United States. Ethan had a fabulous time and is very exited about meeting and measuring his first bespoke clients.

As usual we were made very welcome by everyone we met. We thankfully came back with a very healthy order book for which we are very grateful. I always enjoy the fact that when we're in the US our clients always seem to order every type of bespoke garment. Of course there's classic Savile Row suits but also overcoats and dinner suits and even smoking jackets. However, one fellow really did make the trip for me. He told me that when he travels he likes to dress well and he wasn't kidding. He ordered a lovely bespoke three piece dinner suit and best of all a white tie dress suit. This is the height of elegant dressing for a man. It's been a while since I cut one of these. I own one myself which I wear occasionally but mine was made on Savile Row by Anderson's in 1954. We often get morning coat suits for weddings and Ascot but a bespoke white tie are getting rarer these days.

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(Fred at his board)

It's of course a special garment which needs a lot of skill to make. Thankfully I have just the fellow for this. Fred Eltham is a good friend and excellent tailor. He celebrated his 75th birthday when we returned home. Coincidentally the day was St Georges Day.

We raised a glass of fine English ale and he told me that his first log for working for himself as a Savile Row tailor was dated the 1st of August 1956. After 54 years of experience, If Fred can't make it then nobody can. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Again thank you for all the continued support. The apprenticeship programme was a great success and as I said I would I'd like to extend the same offer to four more clients based here in the UK. £1450.00 + VAT:( is a very tempting price for a Savile Row suit. We've already had a lot of requests but as we did with our US friends we'll put the names in a hat and keep our fingers crossed for you.

Posted by tom at 1:10 PM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2010

sandwhiches for savile row......

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(on the balcony of the benjamin)

Well we're on our last leg here in beautiful San Francisco. However, if the unruly Icelandic volcano keeps throwing a tantrum then these two Savile Row tailors may be here for a while. We're pleased to say that all's gone well so far. Our bespoke suits fit and people are happy.

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(savile row stateside)

After two weeks of not drinking, Ethan looks even younger so he probably wont even get served a beer when he gets home either. I must say a quick thank you to all of our very kind friends here in the US. Especially to one of our NYC clients. He unfortunately tumbled and broke his leg whilst playing with one of his young family members. As you can imagine he wasn't in the best shape for a fitting. However, he does own a rage of fabulous New York deli's. Even though Mr Busardo couldn't make it he made sure that food parcels from his deli's did which were very gratefully received.

We've tried on some fabulous clothes including a super 20oz three piece tweed suit for one of our Chicago customers. He doesn't really need to wear suits but to use his words "he likes the adventure" of bespoke.

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(back detail on the adventure suit)

There are a lot of reasons why you'd buy a Savile Row suit but that's surely got to be on of the best. See you all soon back in Britain.

Posted by tom at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2008

all work and no play....

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(Our tailor Paul Griffiths, Steven Hitchcock and Me)

Well here's a little gathering of former Anderson & Sheppard troublemakers. All in the trade enjoyed our summer get together at the Merchant Taylor's Hall in the City of London last Friday. We had a little private dining room that was fantastic.

All the gang from English Cut were there and it was great that Steven Hitchcock and his delightful girlfriend, Celia joined us.

As usual it was wonderful to catch up with everyone. I was delighted to hear that everybody seems to be as busy as me. I can't remember this photo being taken. We all look very merry and Paul looks as if he's bursting with good Cumbrian living:) After Friday I'm glad we've so much work. I couldn't party like that every week. There are more pics on Steven's blog here.

Posted by tom at 1:17 PM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2008

another view of savile row....

You may remember me mentioning the recent BBC mini series about Savile Row. At about the same time as this was aired, funnily enough, we had a half-hour film made about all of us here at English Cut. This was produced by a lovely lady called Holly Blackwell from Border Television . It was aired nationally on ITV1.

They traveled with me to London and basically did a fly-on-the wall documentary. Although some of my best friends are in this, I find it particularly scary to watch, basically because I'm in it. However, they did a super job and really got the feel of our business. They had a great time making the film and we all enjoyed a lot of laughter in the process.

Just click on the picture above and you can watch and judge for yourself. We've had to lose a little picture quality to upload this onto English Cut, but you'll get the idea. If you want a full-screen version, here's the link. I hope you enjoy.

Posted by tom at 6:51 AM | Comments (4)

February 12, 2008

part two...

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(Valentine & Nutter, two greats)

The second episode of “Savile Row” was aired on the BBC last night. I wish that’s all there was to it. Sadly, I can’t write today and say I’m pleased how the series has at last improved and got the feel of the Row and, more importantly the people who are involved. Instead of inciting viewers to dash and spend their hard-earned cash on the Row, they’re more likely to stand at the end of the Row and gaze in puzzlement at a historical shipwreck, whose crew prefer to point fingers at those who’ve jumped ship.

I never thought I’d see the day that a programme about the business I’ve been involved with all my life could possibly make me cringe so much. It was all very sad and tragic. I wish I could at least say there was humour in the tragedy, but the only people laughing are the people who’d prefer to see the back of the tailors on Savile Row for good. In all fairness to everyone involved in this series, I do feel that after a year of filming the BBC could have edited the programme more fairly, rather than to choose to make a complete parody of the Row and show its occupants to be nearing the end of an epoch and the insecurity that goes with.

I don’t want to go over the same ground as earlier. What I will say is that it appears the Savile Row Association is doing a better job than all the high rents, bad exchange rates and global fashion brands could ever do at eating away at the core of what makes Savile Row a wonderful and unique place. Its times like this I thank God my little company is not of “serious note” (you have to watch the show to understand that one).

Here’s the link to watch on line. I promise there’s a more positive aura around there in reality.

Posted by tom at 1:08 PM | Comments (0)

February 6, 2008

tailors on the telly...

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(the lair)

My alma mater, Savile Row is the star of the small screen at the moment. On Monday the first of a three-part series about that little street in London was shown on BBC. We've been waiting for this for some time, as I believe it's taken a good year to make.

Of course all in the trade were excited about it airing, no one more than me. But after I watched the first episode, I'm sad to say I felt a little flat. There was a lot of interesting things said, certainly, and a nice glimpse into what we do, but I personally thought it was a little negative. The music and tone of the programme seemed a little funerial.

Raising awareness of the Row can never be a bad thing, of course. Though many of the tailors I've spoken to since chuckled how amusing it was that the global fashion house, Abercombie & Fitch who opened their flagship store on the Row last year, enjoyed the lion's share of the free BBC coverage.

For me it was funny how, like I've said before, because we're quite a nomadic bunch, ever since filming stopped, some of those people featured have moved on to different companies. Nothing unusual there. It's one of the things that gives the Row its charm.

I admired the positive outlook of Angus Cundey of Pooles regarding their new workrooms, down in the cheaper basements [All the hedge fund companies moving into the neighborhood are after the top floors, with lots of sunlight]. As any tailor worth their salt will say, if you have the skill and a clean, well-lit room, that's really all you need. In many ways a prestigious address only turns out to be a distraction. I've seen it happen before, many times. Patrick Grant from Norton's had the right idea, completely unphased by his new, global neighbour, measuring the top man of Abercrombie & Fitch on the programme. His attitude seemed to say, if we stay good, we'll be successful, and good luck to the big boys.

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(what it's really all about)

I also hope that the remaining two parts will not only be centered around the members of the Savile Row Association. The latter is a nice idea, and there are some great houses in the club. Some of their owners are truly splendid people, who have given their whole lives to the good of the trade- Mr. Skinner of Dege & Skinner and Mr Cundey spring immediately to mind. But I've been told it's an organization that stipulates you have to be on the actual Row, or within a hundred yards of it to be a member.

I do find this odd, and not just because I'm settled up in Cumbria. I know that one of the houses, Anthony J. Hewitt Limited, one of the best in the trade, has had its membership formerly questioned because it's one hundred and ten yards away from Savile Row- a mere 10 yards past the limit.

This is astonishing, as I know Mr. Mr Hewitt and Ravi Tailor personally, who between them have worked on Savile Row for over eighty years!

Their new home in 11 St. George Street, is one of the best examples of a real, classic, West End tailors. I presume I have to call it "West End" from now on. Apparently it's no longer "Savile Row", correct? Even though Ravi, Mr Hewitt and the other tailors based in the shop have God Knows how much experience between them. They have proper cutting rooms upstairs and wealth of experienced tailors making down below. To me, apart from the fact that they're no longer within the arbitrary perimeter [They're technically within 100 yards as the crow flies, but about 10 yards outside it via foot, by my reckoning] what more could anyone expect from a traditional "Savile Row" tailors? The shop is simply beautiful, and for all the right reasons. But the club doesn't seem to agree with me.

The term "Savile Row" has always been commonly used since the earliest days to describe the community of the best suit makers in the world, who congregated around Mayfair [Because, frankly, back in the old days, that's where all the well-heeled customers actually lived]. As with any random bit of history, the community of tailors ended up being named collectively, "Savile Row". They could have just as easily named it something else, and not a single thread on a single suit made in the last 200 years in that neighbourhood would have been any worse for it.

My other issue is that I don't understand why you have to pay somewhere between £1000 -£1500 a year for membership. Especially with "prohibitively high rents" being a major theme of the BBC programme.

Surely, wouldn't it be easier to invite all the tailors to get their heads together and use their different talents, not just the ones within this arbitrary perimeter? Good ideas and changes could be used to the long-term benefit of every company and individual. This of course should be free of charge, I'm sure with high rents and other costs there's more useful ways to spend £1500. I'm also sure all concerned would be happy to chip in to the cost of the real essentials of the good decision making i.e. the refreshments and nibbles.

I know I'm the heretic tailor for deciding to live and work here in Cumbria, and can understand why somebody like me would not be invited to join their club. I can certainly see why they're so attached to their premises. From a business standpoint I am lucky that my customers care more about the quality of my suits, and the tradition they inherited, rather than how their money is contributing to the coffers of an already-rich Mayfair landlord.

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(nice glen check to match up)

This November I will have had 25 years in this business and I must say I've loved every minute of it. Let's hope the next couple of BBC episodes makes it more obvious why I say that. The first episode was called "Love Thy Neighbour", after all. :)

Savile Row will survive into the next generation, not because of "Brand Savile Row", but because we find enough young people over the long haul, tailor and customer alike, to carry on the traditions properly. Whether this happens on the Row, 110 yards from the Row, or yes, perhaps even in Cumbria, it's the skill and the love that matters. That's why we do it. If we just wanted to be on Savile Row for the money, we would have gone into property development.

[You can watch th programme on the BBC website here, for the next few days.]

Posted by tom at 11:05 AM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2007

batty tailors....

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(Chris and I both in vintage dinner suits from the 40's)

It's been a just over a week since we tailors had our annual posh MTBA dinner, at the lovely Merchant Taylors Hall in The City. Lucy, Claire and Christopher and I all had a wonderful evening. It's a great time to catch up with people in the trade, the old ones and the new ones. They're there from Savile Row, and all over the UK. I think there was over two hundred and fifty people there associated with the trade in one way or another.

It was especially nice to introduce Christopher to fellow tailors and cutters. He's also a very lucky lad in that he won one of the raffle prizes. Not bad going, considering after all the years of going myself, I've never won a thing, or personally known anyone else who has, either. Beginners luck, I guess.

Sadly, at the meal we were told of the sudden loss of Brian Russell. Mr Russell was a cutter and director at Anderson & Sheppard whilst I was there. in the last few years he ran his own successful business in Sackvile Street, just off Savile Row. He was a very well-liked character with a lot of skill. Brian, unsurprisingly was working right up to the day he passed away. He taught me a lot and was always good fun. He's going to be very much missed by all who knew him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this sad time.

We still hope to be in the stables this summer, however we had a slight delay from the local planning office. We have to make sure we don't disturb the barn owls and bats that live in and around the stables. I know it sounds a bit mad, though I think its quite nice to consider them. But the planners are now happy, so tailors, bats and owls will all live happily together.

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(Spitfire guarding the fire in our cutting room)

Whilst in London Robert Oakes from Scabal impressed me with their new cloth, "Summit". It's amazing stuff. I think its the most exclusive cloth I know, retailing at an incredible £1500.00 per meter. I'd charge a little over £5000 ( $10,000) for this kit. I think I'd set aside a whole day to cut one of these. I don't think I'll have a long queue of customers for this, but then again, a $10,000 suit is quite a conversation starter, so you never know. If anyone takes the plunge I'll let you know.

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( Summit, for the $10,000 suit)

Posted by tom at 4:17 PM | Comments (0)

October 28, 2006

Savile Row in Toronto....

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[Toronto's impressive CN Tower]

Savile Row is coming to Canada. Well, maybe not literally, but almost.

I've had a lot of enquiries over the years asking if I ever make it to Toronto. Fortunately, I'm very busy as it is, and simply can't add an other city to my American visiting schedule.

It's a great town and a lovely country. I have family there, and used to spend a lot of time in Toronto when I was younger. So it's not a personal thing, it's a time issue.

However, I am delighted to announce that my Savile Row tailoring friend, Jonathan Quearney, who's younger with more energy than me has added Toronto to his regular visiting itinerary, along with New York and San Francisco.

Autumn Trip October 30th - November 4th 2006

email: info [at] jonathanquearney.com
tel: +44 (0) 207 631 5132

New York City

Monday 30th / 2.00pm - 9.00pm

Tuesday 31th / 9.00am - 12.00noon

Toronto

Wednesday 1st / 2.00pm - 9.00pm

Thursday 2nd / 9.00am - 12.00noon

San Francisco

Friday 3rd / 9.00am - 6.00pm

Saturday 4th / 12.00noon - 6.00pm

This is great news for Canadians. I can't recommend him highly enough, and few of the other tailors on the Row visit Toronto on a regular basis. He offers terrific made-to-measure, bespoke and shirts. So if you get the chance he's well worth a visit.Tell him I said "Hi".

I'm going to save Canada for holidays :-)

Posted by tom at 8:39 PM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2006

savile row in the times...

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[Fred Eltham, one of the best tailors on the Row, without question.]

From The Times (of London): "Tailors find an ally in fight to hold high street at bay."

Bespoke tailors in cluttered workshops on this famous London street have been handsewing suits for royals, statesmen, film stars and men of distinction and style for almost two centuries.

But the existence of Savile Row’s tailors has been threatened by a 50 per cent rent rise in the past ten years, fuelled by the desire of upmarket clothes stores to cash in on the street’s reputation.

The Times has learnt, however, that planners at Westminster City Council are planning to act to save Savile Row from the curse of chain-store uniformity that threatens to blight every high street in Britain.

In a report to be published today, the council outlines how it will block attempts to turn the workshops into retail outlets.

[...]

“If ever there was a street that deserved an award for exporting then it’s Savile Row,” said Thomas Mahon a Savile Row-trained tailor who now runs English Cut. “If the bespoke businesses were driven out by crappy retail stores selling poor quality clothes, then Savile Row’s name would be irreparably damaged.”

Needless to say, As I've said before, there's a lot of heritage on Savile Row, and it needs to be protected. The fact that our local government is starting to agree with us tailors can only be seen as a good sign.

As there's been a lot of recent press interest in Savile Row due to this report, all the tailors are assembling at 11am today for a group photograph, to give to the press to use. All of the Row's most dashing candidates will be there, strutting their stuff. I talked to a lot of the boys last week, who wanted me to come down for the shoot. Sadly, I'm cutting today in Cumbria, so I shall miss this historic occasion.

But Godspeed to everyone there today, and I'll look forward to seeing you all in the papers.

Posted by tom at 9:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 27, 2006

naval uniforms

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[click on image to enlarge]

While I was on Savile Row the other day, I walked by Henry Poole's and saw this marvellous window display.

Old, antique Royal Navy uniforms. The proper ones.

A little bit of trivia: A certain Henry Poole tailor is by law the only person in the world allowed to work on Admiral Nelson's uniform, the one he was actually wearing when he was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Only this tailor carries the Royal Warrant for it.

Also, if you've ever seen old photos of the Ethiopian king, Haile Selassie wearing a uniform, they were made by Poole's as well. That's his Royal Warrant on the top right.

Why do I love working on the Row? This picture says it all.

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December 19, 2005

"in praise of savile row"

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The Guardian, one of the big London newspapers, recently wrote a leader about Savile Row:

As one master tailor told the Financial Times this week, "These people aren't tailors - they're outfitters," - an important distinction. Few of us may be able to afford a Savile Row suit but it is important somehow to know that, if we had the money and inclination, we could. Right now, London's historic master tailors are only hanging on by a thread. But they surely deserve to survive.

Posted by tom at 1:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 12, 2005

very sad news...

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[Myself, John Reed and Brian back in August.]

I have just learned the very sad news that one of Savile Row's most respected tailors and greatest characters, Brian Burstow, passed away suddenly last Friday.

All I can do is offer my most sincere condolences to his family. I will greatly miss Brian ("B.B." to his friends), as will all his loyal customers and everyone else connected to the Row.

The funeral service will be at 11am on 21st December at St Nicolas Church, St Nicolas Way, Sutton.

Posted by tom at 2:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 22, 2005

henry poole's...

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[A picture of Henry Poole's, 15 Savile Row.]

I saw this quote in Businessweek and it made me smile:

As Henry Poole's Simon Cundey told me: "The new guys might get the pop stars and the footballers, but their managers come to us... And they're so much less trouble."
As I've said before, Henry Poole's is one of the stalwarts of Savile Row. A wonderful company with an inpeccable pedigree. Mr. Cundy beautifully expresses a sentiment that all the tailors I know have been saying for years.

[UPDATE:] And in case you're wondering, it's pronounced "SAH-vill".

Posted by tom at 10:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 22, 2005

savile row's wyatt earp....

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(Richard's body pattern. Notice the extra length and sidebody cut.)

This is an interesting one. This is for Richard, a local chap in Cumbria who went to school with me. He’s a bit of a character, and as I expected his first bespoke wasn’t to be in the usual classic style.

Instead he’s going to have boot flared trousers with 2-inch loops, for a huge belt and buckle, plus a single breasted long jacket with a sidebody for flair, with flared cuffs on the sleeves.

The best way of describing this is "Savile Row's answer to Wyatt Earp."

It's going to be cut from a nice Smith Woolens Super 100’s and a slate blue/grey lining.

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(That's a sample of the slate blue/grey lining on the bottom, with the stairway of Warwick Hall- where I have my Cumbrian office- in the background)

Bearing in mind Richard’s about 6ft, 3 inches, He’s going to look every bit as imposing as any gunslinger.

As the work progresses, I’m going to show you various stages- the cutting, the making with my (sewing) tailor, and then the fittings- until it's completed.

Watch this space...

Posted by tom at 1:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 7, 2005

anderson's is moving...

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My former employer, Anderson & Sheppard are moving off Savile Row next week. This is their new address at 32 Old Burlington Street, just round the corner. You can just see their new sign.

It's where Davies' had their old place. Naturally, I prefer their old building at Number 30 Savile Row.

I shall miss dear old Number 30.

This is something I’ve known about for a while, but I guess I’ve been ignoring the fact. I suppose we all hoped that the great building would remain to house one of the world's greatest tailors. But that’s life.

It’s very sad that they are moving, and I know that it’s the people that make a company, not the bricks and mortar. But Savile Row just wont be the same without them.

The lease ran out a few years ago, and although they’ve had a stay of execution, the developers are moving in next week. Change is inevitable, I suppose.

On a brighter note, I was talking to Colin Heywood and John Malone from Anderson's last week. They're of course sorry that they‘ve got to move, however the Davies’s premises in Burlington Street have been completely gutted and the new shop sounds fantastic. I know there’ll be the smell of fresh paint for a while, but I’m sure Anderson’s will recapture that “comfy pair of slippers” feel about their new shop in no time at all.

Anderson’s have "first refusal" to return to Number 30, should they wish. But with the ridiculous rent and rates required for Central Mayfair, I’ve been told there’s little chance of that happening. I gather the lower ground may be turned into a couple of retail units with offices above.

I wonder if the new occupants will have any real idea of the sartorial adventures that went on within those walls.

I really hope that the spot where the rug was rolled up on the parquet floor, so Mr. Astaire could dance to check the fit of his coat never came away from his collar, won't be the permanent resting place for a new Xerox machine. God forbid.

Well that’s that, and I and the rest of the Row wish them every success in their new home, where I’m sure they’ll be for another 100 years.

Then again, on another level it's actually quite good news for the tailors. Suddenly they're a lot closer to Mulligan's.

[BACKGROUND READING:] The English Cut homepage, plus the "About Thomas" and "Why Use Thomas" pages.

Posted by tom at 12:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 19, 2005

savile row who's who....

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(My beloved alma mater, Anderson & Sheppard)

Savile Row Who's Who: These are the main stalwarts of the famous street:

Anderson & Sheppard, My former employer; where I learned the cutter's trade from the great Mr. Hallbery. Superb clothes, great traditions and very well priced. What still makes me smile to this day is their wonderful reluctance to change. They have no web site, and they only started taking credit cards in the mid-1990’s.

What doesn’t help me when I write a piece like this is Anderson's preferred us never to mix with other cutters on Savile Row. We were a very elusive bunch. When the trade has its annual FMT dinner (Federation of Merchant Tailors), everyone on Savile Row would attend, apart from you-know-who.

Also, when a popular book was written about Savile Row in the late 'eighties, the whole trade was clamouring to be involved. But as you’d expect, for all the author's pleading, Andersons don’t give interviews, and that was that. So the only entries in the book about Anderson's are by the author himself. And the only interior picture they could manage was taken through the window, off the street.

And yet they're still the busiest and most respected on the Row. Brilliant.

Henry Poole's, I believe they're the oldest on Savile Row. Founded in 1806, a hundred years before even Messieurs Anderson and Sheppard got together. A top quality house with an excellent reputation. Not a particularly "hard" or "soft" coat, but a good mixture. They also specialize in court dress etc- lots of frilly bits. This requires a lot of specialist skill, and is not my field at all. I think Anderson’s will just beat them at the post for having the largest business on Savile Row, but not by much.

Huntsman. Utterly first-class quality and control in their manufacture, but make sure you’ve got deep pockets. They're everything but inexpensive. A huge list of the great and good for clients. Quite a firm coat, seriously fitted. Their business had a bit of a stormy year in 2004, and they've made some big changes recently. Regardless, they're a great and long established company; they'll see it through. I wish them all the very best for the future.

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(Kilgour's, complete with new shopfront)

Kilgour's (formerly Kilgour French & Stanbury). I have a very soft spot for this firm, as their old cutter, George Roden offered me a job when I was very young and just starting out in the trade. An excellent pedigree in classic tailoring (Carey Grant was a favourite customer), but even though they keep one foot firmly in the past, they're not frightened to move forward. This is shown in the new contemporary facelift their shopfront just had. They also have an excellent ready-to-wear collection.

Dege & Skinner. A flexible company, who can adopt their house style for each customer. A lot of experience from cutting tweed suits to uniforms. The company chairman, Michael Skinner is also very active in promoting the trade and the future of Savile Row.

Gieves & Hawkes. Big military uniform heritage, especially with the Royal Navy. I don't think the bespoke side of the business is that prominent any longer. They have very department-store feel in their shop; they also have a lot of concession stands around the fancy department stores. Imposing premises at No 1 Savile Row. Was flattered to be head-hunted by them whilst at Andersons. They wanted me to run their concession in Harrod's. It was a good offer, but not really my thing. Nice to be asked, though.

That’s the big guns pretty much covered. There are also a couple of larger "fashion orientated" houses. Ozwald Boateng and Richard James. Very “In-Crowd” tailors. Big ready-to-wear and concession deals. If you're into bright purple and orange, with narrow lapels and skimpy trousers, this is where you should go. Sorry, that’s all I can say on them.

There are plenty of other smaller businesses and one-man-band outfits, sharing premises. These you’ll find a'plenty on the Row, but also on the neighbouring streets- Old Burlington, Cork, Sackville etc.

I’m not just saying this because Malcolm and the boys are good pals of mine, but Welsh & Jeffries are a super company, and although relatively small, they have a very high-profile customer base. As with most of the quality tailors, they're pretty discreet. Their principal, Malcolm Plews is a classic example of a great Savile Row tailor. He’s been around the business for a long time with experience in different companies. He’s always willing to help out and is very respected by both his customers and colleagues alike. Last week I met a lady customers of his who was trying on a pair of high back ladies "trews" (seamless trousers). Both she and I were both staggered at the ability of his cutting. He really excels at ladies' wear.

You’ll definitely find him in Mulligans pub on the occasional evening. Apart from the tailoring skills, he’s great company. If you want a friend in the tailoring business, get down to Mulligans and buy him a pint of Guinness.

And there are more, many more. There's Brian Burstow, there's Ravi Tailor over at A.J. Hewitt's, and Roy and Joe at Chittleborough & Morgan. These fellows are all top drawer, but you’ve got to look for them.

Sadly, I really can’t list them all, or I’ll be here all day. But keep on reading English Cut, and with a bit of homework, you should soon be able to find a company or individual that suits your needs the best.

[PART TWO:] The one thing I’m not going to do is tell you who are the best tailors on Savile Row. For three main reasons:

1. I honestly don't know. And frankly, neither does anyone else. Even if, like myself, you have worked on Savile Row for many years, we tailors tend to concentrate heavily on our own work. The only time we really get to have a look at other tailors' work is when we get to see a sample in a tailor/alteration tailors' workshop. And this only tells you half the story.

The only true way get a good evaluation of another house’s work is to get a good look at it on the customer wearing the product. This usually only happens because (a) they’ve had a falling out with their previous tailors or (b) they just fancied a change (which is actually quite common).

Customers do sometimes prefer to use one tailor for business suits, another for dress or tweeds. Also, in extreme cases I’ve known people order a suit with the jacket made in one house, and the trousers made in another.

2. This is just too personal a business to remain completely objective. I know many excellent, world-cass tailors on Savile Row. And I know with many of them, if they made me a suit, that the materials, the craftsmanship and the fit would all be excellent. Outstanding. But at the end of the day, I still wouldn’t like the final product. Why? Well, if you’ve been reading English Cut, you’ll see I'm very partial to the "soft" Anderson & Sheppard style of clothing. So not all makes would suit me, particularly from houses more famous for their "hard" style. Their cut would seem more like body armour than a proper suit.

And every tailor would tell you the same, so don't be too judgemental right off the bat, just make sure you do your homework beforehand. All the tailors on Savile Row will give you plenty of time and info before you order.

3. You have the aforementioned big flagship stores on Savile Row, however the tailors inside those grand buildings are actually quite nomadic. The cutter from Such-an-such may have been working for three different companies in the last five years. Nearly all the tailors (sewers) are self-employed, so they will often work for two or three houses at the same time.

As I said before, if you find a cutter that you like, hold on to him with dear life, don't come to me. Even if he changes companies a bit, change with him. Don’t worry, we never move very far- Savile Row’s only a few hundred yards long.

[UPDATE:] Brian Burstow sadly passed away in December, 2005.

[BACKGROUND READING:] The English Cut homepage, plus the "About Thomas" and "Why Use Thomas" pages.

Posted by tom at 2:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack