Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A $5,000 suit can be yours in England. You want to look good and if taken care of, a good men’s suit can last a long time. No two guys look exactly the same so why get something off a rack that will only fit you at the cuffs and legs? The rest of the suit will probably look like a Hefty bag! You need a custom made suit like the rich and famous at least once in your life.
In the world of men’s tailoring, the quiet London street called Savile Row in the City of Westminster, is the place to be to look great. It has been mentioned in movies like the 1969 classic film where actor Michael Kane gets fitted for a suit. More famously, James Bond’s Michael Craig, David Bowie, Fred Astaire have been fitted there. More importantly, the Royal Family of England has their Military uniforms made there. The late Michael Jackson had his military style outfits made there too.
There are many fine custom tailors to choose from like Chittleborough & Morgan. Hundreds of tailors, sewers and cutters practice the art that has defined English Tailors since the 1700’s. The British call it “Bespoke.” It means made to measure, ready to wear tailoring and or military outfitters. Don’t call it fashion it is custom made garments to the specification of the customer.
Henry Poole & Company is the oldest tailor on the block. It has been there since 1840. They charge the 3000 pounds or $5,000 for a suit. They have an archive room where they keep all the measurements on record for all their customers. They will not discuss any information for anyone unless their customer has died. They still have records from 1846. In their ancient books you’ll find orders for Charles Dickens, Buffalo Bill Cody, Queen Victoria’s son The Prince of Wales who became the King of England.
Winston Churchill ordered regularly up to 1929 until the Wall Street Crash. He must have lost a lot of money because his orders decreased dramatically and finally he wasn’t paying for his orders. Queen Elizabeth has been a more reliable customer, after all the citizens of Britain have to pay a separate Royal Tax to support the Royal family. They need money to after all.
Poole & Company have the contract to make all the red uniforms for all the walking grooms that escort the Queen’s gold Stage Coach. Each uniform uses 35 yards of gold trimming. It takes 4 weeks to sew each uniform by hand. They are made the same way they were crafted 130 years ago. The standard is 14 stitches for each inch of fabric. The gold trimming consists of 2 ½ per cent real gold.
Some things on the block have changed. At 1 Savile Road, the tailor Gieves & Hawkes has hired the first female head cutter. Guys, how were you able to hold out so long leaving all women out of the industry? Prince Charles introduced himself to her since his Naval uniforms are made there.
English tailoring seems very old fashioned but they are meticulous in the “perfect fit” details. They want to know if you have changed in weight by even one pound difference in their records or if you have been doing any upper body weight training. Fittings are essential before they simply cut out another suit for you.
Italian Designer, Georgio Armani called Savile Row “A bad British comedy lost in the past.” In the 90’s new tailors surfaced. A place called Richard James shook things up on the block. They stayed open on Saturdays and lure a younger clientele like Hugh Grant and Pierce Brosnan. And despite the recession, they are very busy trying to keep up with the demand. Why? Because if you are wealthy these days, you are very wealthy.
Interestingly, Americans account for 40% of all the business on the block. There must be a lot of wealthy Americans or, there are not many good tailors in America. Fashions come and go but Savile Row tailoring never goes out of style. Treat yourself!

No comments:

Post a Comment