A secondary reason for the delay is that the Budd shop in Piccadilly Arcade was closed for a few weeks recently in order to do some renovations. It says something about Budd and its clientele that the news of changes to the shop, no matter how minor or well-intentioned, was greeted and disseminated with wariness. Budd is a remaining stronghold for the conservative Savile Row set who wish Tommy Nutter had stuck with his initial studies in plumbing rather than invading the Row with 60s style. Inside the Budd shop, it's as if all the Carnaby nonsense never even happened. Stay long enough, you may even convince yourself that the sun still has not set on the British Empire.
The traditional Budd shirt is a full cut, a generous 10 inches off the chest, with a semi-spread “Budd collar” (a collar style Budd has kept unchanged for over thirty years now). About 80 percent of the shirts Budd sells are either solid white or solid blue. Budd also offers a full range of black tie accessories, including sized black bow ties, so that you don't have an ugly clasp showing on the back of your wing-collared dress shirt. Or underneath a turn-down collar, if you're the type that believes elegance shouldn't stop where your public visibility ends.
With the recent but unrelenting renaissance of interest in British craftsmanship and sensibility, a new generation has gone in search of a London shirtmaker, and found Budd. There have been a few concessions made to this younger set of customers – Budd now offers a more spread collar style, and a trimmer cut (cut 6” from the chest as opposed to 10”) in addition to their classic style. There is even now an e-commerce site selling Budd products to customers around the world.
But the heart and soul of Budd remains intact, in the persons of the Jekyll and Hyde team of store manager Andrew Rowley and head cutter John Butcher. Both have been with Budd for decades. Mr. Rowley is ubiquitous in Budd's ground floor Piccadilly Arcade shop. You can't miss him, and you wouldn't want to.
Mr. Butcher is a more mysterious figure. He spends the work day hidden in the bespoke cutting room in the attic above the shop – the only such operation I know of still in London – or in the fitting rooms in the basement. I was warned by more than one person before my visit that 1) his bedside manner might alarm the sensitive 2) he cuts the best shirt in London. I admit to feeling a tinge of relief upon learning that this Demon Cutter of Piccadilly Street would not be in the day of my visit.
But do I look forward to meeting him on my next visit, which will likely include an order for some bespoke silk shirts.
Store manager Andrew Rowley.
The shop in Piccadilly Arcade.
The Budd collar.
Bows for formal and semi-formal occasions.
The two different shapes for Budd bows.
A silk evening shirt.
Another beautiful silk shirt.
The cutting room upstairs.