Those who say they are dead live longer. And indeed it seemed Savile line Until recently, the crisis seemed to be coming to an end: on London’s legendary street, between Regent, Bond and Oxford Street, where the best men’s tailors make elegant tailor-made suits for their wealthy clients, the crisis made its first victims. Houses with great tradition were forced to close – including Chester Barrie and Hardy Amies, a true lord and one of Britain’s most famous couturiers, who also served as Queen Elizabeth’s court tailor.
Brexit uncertainty and a lack of customers have had a relentless impact on the world’s best menswear store. Furthermore, companies have plunged into the Corona crisis. The hairline was no longer in demand. The stores remained closed. Suit sales in the UK have fallen by 2.3 million in the last five years. And many tailors lost their last shirt.
It was not without reason that the British public was extremely alarmed. After all, Savile Row is as much a part of England as Big Ben, Bobbys and Tea Time. And it’s part of the British way of life – unless you’re more attracted to the punk style of the Sex Pistols – to show up in fine clothes: the finest materials and tailored.
“Bespoke tailoring“It is the name of the method of making a suit for a person adapted to his specific needs and desires. The customer is king – and communication is everything. Every detail is discussed, up to 30 different measurements are taken and patterns are made. Up to ten helpers get to work and in 50 hours of work a unique piece is sewn that is destined to last forever.
Of course, this exclusivity comes at a price: a two-piece suit from Dege & Skinner, for example, starts at £5,600. At Hackett you can get involved for just £1,900.
Savile Row was created 1740, when the first tailors settled here. It was named in honor of Lady Dorothy Savile, wife of the Earl of Burlington. The list of names of those who have since dressed in the 300-metre-long alley in the heart of the Mayfair district is elite and exclusive and includes crowned heads as well as world-class celebrities. Napoleon III took measurements here, as did Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, Charles Dickens, Tsar Alexander II of Russia, the Emperor of Japan, Buffalo Bill, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Cary Grant, Michael Jackson, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones . And yet: something new was needed, perhaps even something that broke with rigid traditions and yet did not lose sight of the golden craft.
At Gieves & Hawkes tailoring before the coronation of Charles III. and Camilla carefully incorporated the insignia of supreme royalty into her wardrobe
It arrived Daisy Knatchbull as called. “Savile Row is an incredible place,” she tells us when we reached her by phone in London for the interview. “And it is our duty to ensure that places like this thrive and remain vibrant.” That’s exactly what she did. she did it with aplomb. With The Deck, she brought the first women’s tailoring to Savile Row – breaking into a true men’s bastion. It was already possible for women to have a suit made for them, even by women.
Kathryn Sargent, head tailor at Gieves & Hawkes, was the first in 2016 (she now has her own shop on Brook Street). And for the first time, Phoebe Gormley dedicated herself exclusively to womenswear on the first floor of Cad & The Dandy. But Knatchbull took it a big step further: she opened her own business with her own store in 2019 – a big deal that brought a breath of fresh air and new life.
“This gives the street what it needed,” explains Knatchbull: “That is, for something to move, for it to become a little more modern. It’s important to maintain a delicate balance: modernizing is good, but not everything that people love and value about Savile Row’s heritage should disappear.”
Businesses with women are growing
Daisy Knatchbull is not a new face on Savile Row. As communications director at Huntsman, one of Savile Row’s most renowned high-end tailors, she has been involved in the fashion business for five years. Its commercial-premises appearance also clearly shows how The Deck stands out from the image of the long-standing establishments: it is brighter, friendlier, and more inviting than one is typically used to here among the intimidating mahogany paintings and gilded frames. The price for a women’s bespoke suit starts at £2,800. Three adjustment markings are required. It also attracts prominent women: Kate Moss, Lauren Hutton, Elizabeth Hurley, Twiggy, Elle Macpherson, Gillian Anderson and Maggie Gyllenhaal – all of whom are distinguished clients of The Deck.
“Our business is growing with women,” says Knatchbull proudly. “We double our business every year.” The goal is for customers to be able to put together a variety of different outfits with one suit and a few key pieces. “There are women who don’t necessarily wear our suits to the office, but they wear pants with sneakers when they take their kids to school,” says Knatchbull. “Then they go to lunch in full suits. And at night they put on high heels and go out dressed.” Knatchbull has now expanded its line to include dresses and scarves. “Most importantly, I wanted to create a welcoming environment that focused exclusively on women’s needs and their emotional relationship with clothes.”
In fact, Knatchbull didn’t feel any skepticism or resentment from the bosses. “I know a lot of people were expecting a bit of drama. But I wasn’t seen as a threat, I was very supportive. They knew it was the right time for a women’s shop. So we got a lot of congratulations at the opening – and other tailors recommended us to their wives of their male clients.”
Rock ‘n’ Roll on Savile Row
So Savile Row remains exciting. On the one hand, this is due to the atmosphere of the past. Prince Harry shops at Dege & Skinner. King Charles III has had his suits tailored at Gieves & Hawkes since he became prince. Kings and presidents also appeared in Davies & Son. Huntsman, Henry Poole & Co or Norton & Sons all offer made-to-measure English products. On the other hand, sometimes you can also find less conventional styles. Ozwald Boateng, for example, opts for colorful suits; He was the first from Savile Row to show a collection at Paris Fashion Week. And Cad & The Dandy offers modern cuts.
Savile Row has also always shown a weakness for rock ‘n’ roll. The Beatles headed here to their company Apple Corps. His famous rooftop concert also took place there. And the street had Edward Sexton, the great icon: in the 60s he brought swing London to Savile Row and dressed David Bowie and Elton John. The Beatles wore their suits on the legendary cover of “Abbey Road”. And Mick Jagger got married in one of his clothes. Sexton passed away this year.
Savile Row continues to open up with the passage of time. And yet it remains timeless.