A very well-written piece, and I'd be curious to have a discussion around this. Let's save the knee-jerk iGent reaction of an indignant harrumph for our cousins over at the LL, and discuss how SR can produce global brands that compete against the likes of Brioni, Zegna etc.
These business cannot simply be preserved in aspic, and it remains a shame that Italian pretenders are making a killing, while SR just ambles along.
While I imagine we all agree that the core bespoke offering should remain untouched, I think it's still possible to greatly move into RTW via various models:
- Hermes / Chanel: Not much bespoke / couture, but the majority of their offerings preserve the same artisanal ethos of the original make (save the knickknacks and the H-branded belts)
- Huntsman: Screw bespoke, RTW here we come! Highlight the much lauded 'heritage' of the brand while aggresively moving into RTW
- Poole: The saintly bespoke offering remains in its original form in London, but partnerships are stuck in foreign markets
- Anderson: Bespoke all the way, but the famous brand is used to sell accessories, knitwear etc. through company-owned stores
- Norton: Norton remains bespoke, while its fellow SR sub-brand, E. Tautz, moves into RTW
- Gieves / Kilgour: The bespoke is preserved but not highlighted, and an effort is made to expand on the brand's RTW selection (particularly in warmer climes)
I like the A&S approach, but I think a melding of the A&S and Gieves / Kilgour strategy would be great to see. I have no overarching objection to the Gieves / Kilgour strategy, except that they seem to be kicking out their heritage by showcasing their RTW line in these glitzy, anonymous storefronts that are found everywhere from Ginza to Fifth Avenue. More importantly, their RTW selection often appears to be competing head-on against Zegna and the like, without even a nod towards their true heritage.