Savile Row Tailors
Savile Row is best known for its plethora of high-end men’s tailors, many of which have been tailoring suits for over a century. These craftsmen are renowned for their bespoke handmade suits that are designed to flatter the wearer’s figure perfectly.
Savile Row London
Possibly London’s best-dressed street, Savile Row, is famous for shopping and as the epicentre of British tailoring and craftsmanship. The city’s finest outfitters were some of the first businesses to arrive on the street in 1805 to dress the nobility and high-ranking military who lived there.
Like most of Mayfair, the street was developed from the land of stately homes surrounding St James’ Palace in the 18th century. Donated by the Earl of Burlington, he named the street after his wife, Lady Dorothy Savile.
Henry Poole, the inventor of the tuxedo, is considered one of the benchmark traders who helped attract other similar names, and they remain one of the most famous tailors on the row to this day. Other notable names with a heritage on the prestigious street include Gieves & Hawkes (established initially as Hawkes & Co in 1912), and Nutters, one of the more modern, edgier tailors that began to appear from the 1970s onwards.
Though the fast-changing landscape of menswear has meant difficult times for traditional tailors, the Savile Row Bespoke Association has supported these local institutions since 2004 and has seen a rise in business in recent years. The association overseas issues such as the definition of ‘bespoke’ and that those declaring themselves as ‘Savile Row tailors’ must operate their business within a 100-yard radius of the street.
As well as attracting suave-suited gentlemen, you may also find Beatles fans gathering to witness the spot of their final-ever public performance. In 1968, The Beatles bought 3 Savile Row and made it the headquarters of their Apple Corps business, including the Apple Studio and famously played their final show on its rooftop.
When did Savile Row become the centre of bespoke tailoring in London?
Savile Row was developed on the Earl of Burlington’s former mansion grounds in the 18th century. The area was full of aristocrats and high-ranking military members, so naturally, the city’s tailors flocked to become neighbours with these wealthy customers.
However, when one of the most popular tailors of the day, Henry Poole, opened up shop in around 1846 with a celebrity client list and a much grander store than its rivals, the street began to become known as the premium destination for tailoring. Poole’s customers included Napolean Bonaparte, Queen Victoria and King Edward VII, attracting more fashionable clientele to the Row to get the VIP treatment. Today the 270-metre-long street is home to more than 20 bespoke tailors.
Who is the oldest tailoring establishment on Savile Row?
Henry Poole, considered the founding tailor of Savile Row, is still in business after more than 200 years and is considered the oldest establishment on the street. It was first opened in 1806, and by the early 1900s, it was the biggest tailoring institution of its kind in the world, hiring more than 300 tailors and 14 cutters.
Henry Poole opened a site on Savile Row in approximately 1846 but was forced to move in 1961 due to redevelopment. The legendary creators of the tuxedo returned to Savile Row in 1985, where they have occupied number 15 ever since, continuing to make all of their garments on-site.
Who are the most famous people to shop on Savile Row?
As home to the finest tailoring, Savile Row has attracted the world’s best-dressed celebrities. From historical figures such as Winston Churchill, who never paid an outstanding bill of £197 to his tailor Henry Poole, to rock ‘n’ roll legends like Mick Jagger, who helped make Tommy Nutter an icon of 60s fashion, the tailors are full of stories of the rich and famous.
Today, you’re just as likely to spot a famous face on the Row getting ready for a red-carpet event. Eddie Redmayne, Colin Firth, George Clooney and Daniel Craig are some names known to wear bespoke Savile Row suits for premiers. It’s not just the men; Nicole Kidman and Naomi Campbell have been papped in Savile Row suits.
The Beatles, whose suits were as iconic as their music, were more than just customers on Savile Row; they had their headquarters for Apple Corps at number three and performed their last-ever gig on its rooftop in 1969.
How much does a Savile Row bespoke suit cost?
The joy of a bespoke suit is that you can decide exactly the fabric and style you want; therefore, the price will vary. However, depending on the tailor, a two-piece bespoke suit usually starts from between £1500 to £4000.
Creating a bespoke suit requires up to 50 measurements to make a unique pattern for the client. At least two fittings are required to ensure a precision fit, and the whole process can take around 80 hours of expert craftsmanship to complete. Clients can expect their finished suit in around six to 12 weeks.
Which organisation represents the tailors on Savile Row?
The Savile Row Bespoke Association is a collective of tailors who promote and protect the street’s reputation as a centre of tailoring excellence. It was set up in 2004 by five of the Row’s most revered tailors: Anderson & Sheppard, Dege & Skinner, Gieves & Hawkes, H. Huntsman & Sons and Henry Poole & Co.
There are 22 members, each adhering to the strict definition of a Savile Row tailor set out by the association. The stipulations include making all garments within a 100-yard radius of Savile Row and offering at least 2000 cloth choices. All members must employ an apprentice. The association has seen over 50 young men and women trained since the initiative started to ensure a high standard of skill can be kept alive for future generations.