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My visit to Budd in Piccadilly Arcade

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
As you may be able to tell from the time that's passed since my last trip writeup, I have been putting off writing about my trip to Budd. The main reason is my fear that a few paragraphs from me couldn't possibly do justice to the regard that some of my closest iGent friends have for Budd, and I didn't want to let them down. For this inevitable disappointment, friends, I apologize. Though this piece might warm you with the glow of the memory of your last trip to Budd, in no way will it be a substitute.

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.

Thurston braces.

The cutting room upstairs.
post #2 of 19

I have been a customer of Budd for the past few years, and it’s worthwhile to note that while their default cut is a bit loose, they are not the slightest bit hesitant to cut a more modern, slim-fitting shirt. None of the ‘take it or leave it’ attitude prevalent across the Row.

post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks, ET. Yes, I should note that those two different styles that I mentioned (the more traditional, fuller Budd cut, and the newer trimmer cut) are for their RTW shirts. For bespoke shirts, you can choose whatever style you want.
post #4 of 19

What are the benefits of a silk shirt? and how does a it feel on the skin? I can't imagine it being as comfortable as cotton.

post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
There are various kinds of silk shirts. This one doesn't look like silk you might think of from a tie. It's not shiny and slick. It feels kind of weightier than cotton. The way that it bends and folds is more fluid than cotton. It feels more substantial, but not in a thick, encumbering way. Sorry I can't be more descriptive. I feel like the guy in that Onion article about the writer that "can't do hands."
post #6 of 19
Originally Posted by davesmith View Post

What are the benefits of a silk shirt? and how does a it feel on the skin? I can't imagine it being as comfortable as cotton.

I own two silk shirts;

1. A kind of sport shirt , off-white yellowish from Bavaria I believe.
It is slubby in a way that I do not think cotton can be made. I wear it
with an undershirt so it it feels no different than cotton.

2. An off-white Ivory pleated evening shirt. No longer fits. To me it is more subtle
and elegant than the usual white.
post #7 of 19

Thanks for the review with the great pictures, David.  Chloë Lederman wrote an interesting article on silk shirts for A Suitable Wardrobe:

post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks for reminding me of that piece CS, I had forgotten about it (but note words are by Mansel Fletcher, Chloe Lederman did the photos).
post #9 of 19
I have a vintage Budd formal shirt from what I expect is the '60s or early '70s. It has an hand-embroidered front instead of pleats so that does prove that Budd is amenable to less conservative things.
post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 
That sounds awesome. Do you have pics?
post #11 of 19
Nice piece, thanks.
post #12 of 19

What are the general price ranges of a bespoke shirt?

post #13 of 19
Originally Posted by MSchapiro View Post

What are the general price ranges of a bespoke shirt?


£215 x 4 [minimum first order]

post #14 of 19
unbelragazzo, nice post.

I use services of a different bespoke shirtmaker in London, but get my boxers at Budd. I used to get them at T&A, but after discovering Budd's ones (they are not on display, so their existence is not obvious), there is no way back -- Budd's are cheaper, from more varied types of cloth (including voile and "real" Sea Island), and the same (read: high, including covered waistband) standard of make. To my knowledge, the only other London shops employing same standard of make are Udeshi and Emma Willis, but they are even more expensive that T&A.

post #15 of 19
^ Andrey - which London shirtmaker do you use?
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