Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, Napoleon III, and Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, as well as the French President Charles de Gaulle, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the legendary actor Rudolph Valentino, are some of the historic personalities that shared a passion for elegance and the desire to dress well. They were regular customers of the famous Savile Row, a street in the British capital where— for centuries—the world´s most prestigious tailors specializing bespoke menswear have practiced their art.
Savile Row is located in Mayfair, one of the most elegant and exclusive districts in the heart of London. Known as the “golden mile of tailoring”, its origins date back to the period between 1731 and 1735. The fashionable street takes its name from Lady Dorothy Savile, wife of British architect Lord Richard Boyle, Earl of Burlington. The stately homes of this area served as residences for senior military officials, aristocrats and persons in the service of the royal family, who needed a wardrobe befitting their privileged social position. However, it was much earlier—during the 1630s—that the tailors began to settle in the area, although the most famous remaining firms date their origin to the 18th and 19th centuries.
Currently, around 20 tailoring firms call Savile Row their home. In 2004, they joined in a unique partnership, the Savile Row Bespoke Association, which protects the tradition of custom-made suits, always with the best fabrics and— of course— the best finishes.
It is not easy to choose the best tailor among so much variety and good taste. These small labels, which are synonymous with excellence and know-how, make tailored suits with prices ranging from $1,600 to $7,000. Overall, the legendary tailors of Savile Row make about 10,000 suits per year and produce annual revenues estimated at more than $30 million.
These are three of the most renowned tailoring houses in Savile Row:
GIEVES & HAWKES
Gieves & Hawkes opened in 1771 and are considered the oldest tailors on Savile Row. Although their traditional approach to men’s attire is at their core, the firm is currently introducing a highly appreciated young and cosmopolitan line. Their 2015 autumn/winter collection has an urban vibe with powerfully masculine suits made of cashmere, silk, and wool, with predominant dark gray, plum and navy tones.
NORTON & SONS
Since it was founded in 1821, Norton & Sons has been the favorite tailor of the elegant London executives. The prestigious house has dressed members of the royal families of Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Portugal, and the UK, along with presidents of the United States. Some of their suits are exhibited at the Palais Galliera, the Fashion Museum in Paris.
ANDERSON & SHEPPARD
Founded in 1906, Anderson & Sheppard represents British elegance. This is where the famous London cut jacket was created with the narrow armhole and wider sleeves to allow complete freedom of movement without losing elegance. Its distinguished clientele includes movie stars such as Gary Cooper, Sit Laurence Olivier, and Ralph Fiennes, as well as the designer Manolo Blahnik and Prince Charles of England. ■