Savile Row is less a place and more of a state of mind; a standard bearer, almost like a Royal Warrant, for all that is masculine, elegant and British. It is, for many, the world centre of bespoke tailoring, and this is our top ten of the best shops in Savile Row.
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The best suit shops in Savile Row
Huntsman was the inspiration for the Michael Vaughn’s spy caper movie ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’, and the interior and front of the shop, which double as a spy HQ in the film, are featured prominently. Its house style takes it cues from riding and hunting, which means a structured, close-fitting jacket with high armholes, a well-emphasised, nipped-in waist and its signature one-button fastening.
Thanks to creative director, Carlo Brandelli, Kilgour is the Row’s most strikingly modernist tailoring house. The aesthetic of Brandelli’s Bauhaus heroes Walter Gropius and Mies Van Der Roe informs not only the interior of the shop but also the clothes. Jackets are often fly-fronted and without breast pockets, and the colour palette of grey, black, white and blue is similarly rigorous. The focus here is on shape, elegance and function, not decorative whimsy.
In a place where discretion and subtlety reign supreme, Chittleborough & Morgan offers the glamour and sex appeal of art deco elegance. Huge swooping lapels stretch across broad chests, on top of which sit bold, structured shoulders, creating the kind of flowing contours, sharp points and sculptural lines you might see on a 1930s roadster, the kind Jay Gatsby might have driven.
Even after all this time, some of Savile Row’s old guard still take umbrage at the flamboyant aesthetic of Ozwald Boateng. The rich, jewellike colours are not only striking on a street dominated by blue, grey and rustic browns and greens, they also recall Boateng’s proud African heritage. The cut of his suits has a distinctly ’60s Austin Powers flavour to it. Yeah baby!
Tie specialists Drakes has its design studio, head office and workshop in east London, on the appropriately named Haberdasher Street. But its shop is based on Savile Row, and sells not only their famous seven-fold ties, but shirts, jackets, scarves and a collection of smart casual tailoring all of which manages to be both classically English and a little bit Italianate at the same time.
Anderson & Sheppard is, for many, the most influential tailoring house of all. It pioneered the ‘dress soft’ style beloved of The Duke of Windsor and Fred Astaire, which in turn was a huge influence on the work of Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani. The Row’s first ‘civilian tailor’, it represented a louche and laidback antidote to the rest of Savile Row, which was ceremonial and militaristic in its approach.
A snob, a devastating wit and a brilliant businessman and designer, Hardy Amies ascended to the top of the British establishment from modest beginnings. In ‘The ABC of Men’s Fashion’ he writes: ‘A man should look as if he has bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care and then forgotten about them.’ As an early pioneer of ready-to-wear fashion, he’d be pleased with the casually tailored separates, suits and accessories by creative director Mehmet Ali.
Henry Poole was the first tailor to set up shop on Savile Row in 1846 and is credited with inventing the dinner jacket. Its clientele reads like a who’s who of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and while the rest of the Row has made concessions to modernity, Henry Poole & Co remains pleasingly conservative and British in its approach.
Occupying the most prestigious address on Savile Row, No 1, Gieves & Hawkes’s roots are in military uniforms and the house style is still informed by details such as roped shoulders and a strong masculine silhouette. Gieves and Hawkes is now a total lifestyle brand offering accessories and ready-to-wear designed by creative director Simon Spurr.
Cloth is to suits what grapes are to wine, and W Bill is Savile Row’s best kept secret: a treasure trove of tweed, cashmere, flannel, linen and silk. It is quite possible to get lost in here for hours, and it has a deserved reputation among Savile Row insiders as the best place to pick up reams of cashmere and tweed.
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