Get Suited and Booted on London’s Savile Row

Anyone who knows anything about the world of fashion, especially men’s clothing will know that there is no name more synonymous with style than London’s Savile Row. Well heeled men have been buying their bespoke garments here for more than two hundred years. It may only be a short street in the heart of elegant Mayfair, but it is lined with gentlemen’s outfitters whose measuring books are graced with names like iconic Winston Churchill and stately Lord Nelson, through to people like Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson as well as the names of overseas royalty. Anyone who is anyone seems to pay at least one visit to the tailors of Savile Row. The street has long associations with politicians and the aristocracy alike, and though while they may seem locked into a bygone era they have recently undergone something of a transformation.

Photo by Garrett Coakley
Photo by Garrett Coakley

A New Wave of Design

Savile Row saw the arrival of a new wave of designers during the 1990’s who paved the way for the transformation that was to follow. The traditional world of the suit was fused with the world of fashion by the likes of Ozwald Beoteng and Richard James and later by Spencer Hart and Nick Tentis. The red carpet cameras are more generally focussed on the gowns worn by the Hollywood starlets, but take a look at the well dressed male stars and you will find that the majority of their outfits are made on Savile Row. The suit is no longer perceived as stuffy and something you had to buy for weddings and funerals, a suit is now a style statement and highly fashionable. Ordering a bespoke suit is still likely to set you back several thousands of pounds but it will also probably never go out of fashion.

The Processes Involved

Of course you don’t have to stick to a straight forward two piece ensemble, the magic of Savile Row is that they can literally make you anything you desire. Each bespoke garment follows the same set of processes from the client’s original idea to final presentation.

  • The Commission: the client will consult with the tailor about the kind of garment that they would like. Fabrics and colours are selected and a number of different styles are discussed. The pattern cutter will then take sets of measurements from the client.
  • The Construction: A paper pattern is made by the pattern cutter which is presented to the Master Tailor who will then hand-make a rough copy of the suit, known as the ‘Baste’ stage of the process. This version has no pockets or detailing.
  • The First Fitting: The baste is fitted to the client to ensure that it fits correctly. Adjustments to the design can still be made during this fitting.
  • The Second Fitting: The suit is still not complete, this is the time for minor adjustments to the fit to be made.
  • The Final Fitting: the finished garment is tried on and any last minute pins and tucks are made before the client takes ownership of the garment.

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