As Anglophiles, it’s important to know about Savile Row because of its prominence in British fashion history. For the uninitiated, Savile Row is a street in London where the very best “bespoke tailoring” shops reside. (A “bespoke tailoring” shop means the shop sells only individual, customized suits rather than mass-market ones. Some 20 to 30 bodily measurements are taken for a typical bespoke suit. The term arose from fabrics that the customers chose for their suits being set aside, thus "bespoke.")
Today's prices for Savile Row suits run between $4,600 to $7,000, with most in the $5,300 to $5,900 range. A suit generally takes six to twelve weeks to produce, requiring 80 to 100 man-hours and three or four fittings with the customer.
Nearly all the Savile Row tailors are actually located on Savile Row, but a few are located on adjoining streets, such as Old Burlington St. Savile Row owes its existence to the third Earl of Burlington. In the 1730's, when he developed his estate, situated in the Mayfair section of London, a new street was constructed, and the Earl named it "Savile Row " after his wife, Lady Dorothy Savile. Eventually, a few tailors popped up on the street, and when several famous dandies began frequenting them, the rest is history, as they say. Since those days, Savile Row has whipped up custom-made suits for many of the world’s top celebrities and world leaders. The Beatles, Winston Churchill, Napoleon, Cary Grant, the Royals (of course)—and the list goes on and on.
Here is a list of Savile Row's top players, ranked by shop's founding date:
- Gieves & Hawkes (1771) 1 Savile Row
- Henry Poole & Co (1806) 15 Savile Row
- Norton & Sons (1821) 16 Savile Row
- H. Huntsman & Sons (1849) 11 Savile Row
- Dege & Skinner (1865) 10 Savile Row
- Kilgour (1882) 8 Savile Row
- Anderson and Sheppard (1906) 32 Old Burlington St.
- Meyer & Mortimer (1920) 6 Sackville St.
- Hardy Amies (1946) 14 Savile Row
- Chittleborough & Morgan (1969) 12 Savile Row
- Richard James (1992) 29 Savile Row & 19 Clifford Street
The video below features Prince Charles at Anderson & Sheppard, visiting the shop's apprentice tailors--wearing a natty Anderson & Sheppard suit. This famous house (A&S), founded in 1906, is known for constructing garments that follow a natural body line and allow the body to move easily. Certainly a suit that a lean, fit prince who engages in much arm waving to the masses would want, right?
I mention Anderson & Sheppard because--in addition to dressing Royals--it offers a tailoring apprenticeship program. Needless to say, getting accepted to the program is a shining nugget for one’s resume! The shop also publishes a fascinating web blog called The Notebook. It features articles by Anderson & Sheppard apprentices in which they talk about tailoring, how they became tailors, and how they snagged an A & S apprenticeship.
To read The Notebook blog posts, click HERE
To read The Notebook's "How I Got Into Tailoring," click HERE
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