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(What's the Story) Morning Glory: The Current State of Savile Row

post #1 of 95
Thread Starter 
This is a thread about the current state of Savile Row, in particular those houses that have been thought of for decades as one of the places to go for bespoke clothing. From where I'm sitting, interest in Italian bespoke (Neapolitan, mainly) currently dwarfs that of the row (although that may be a bias of mine due to time spent here).

But there are some great things about the Row. For example:

- You don't have to be an internet clothing expert to come out of there looking good. The row is populated by professionals who will do their job whether you are Simon Crompton or nobody. In fact, I'd go so far that too much expertise, if it results in tinkering, perhaps prevents row tailors from doing what they do best: applying their house style to individual clients. But there is no secret and anyone can walk in and feel like they will come out on the other side looking good.

- You are protected on the downside. The suit is done when you are happy and customer service is taken so seriously that there is a separate function dedicated to it. And those guys at the front of the house are generally a pleasure to deal with and to have a drink with.

- There are a range of wonderful house styles and the differ greatly from address to address. From A&S to Chittleborough, from military to leisure, there are tons of possibilities. Maybe more variation on the row than ever right now and Taub in particular seems completely unconstrained by tradition.

On the other hand, the row is frightfully expensive. For those of us in the USA, the dollar-pound exchange rate makes it about 1.5 suits denominated in euro for every suit of the same price denominated in pounds, and a little more than a 1.5 suits denominated in dollars. The handwork at some big names can be lacking compared to the continent. People switch from house to house frequently, which means you are going to require a new pattern from time to time, which is annoying. And you have to decide whether to stay with the house or follow your cutter. Sometimes places can seem more like big brands banking on a RTW line than small bespoke houses.

But I'm not sure. Is it Savile Row less popular or respected than it was in the past? Is it still great? What can one expect from a row suit? I'm hoping that we can hear about experiences with Poole, Taub (Gieves & Hawkes), Richard Anderson, Maurice Sedwell, Davies & Son, Kilgour and any others from the Row that you might have used. I'm dying to see some of Patrick Norton's work.

I will start the discussion with my thoughts and my analysis based on my recent experience, which is limited to Huntsman.
I think Huntsman in the same way I think of burgundy: I really love it, and I'm glad to have some, but unless the value proposition changes I'm reluctant to buy more. Lets keep this thread on target and lets treat this like an adult conversation. If you don't like going back and forth in a reasonable manner (with a little snark threaded in) then I can direct you to another thread.

But first...
post #2 of 95
Thread Starter 
Here is a relatively recent Huntsman commission.




You can see the house style pretty easily. One-button, a swelled chest, straight shoulders angled downward, moderate padding at the shoulders, a longer coat (about an inch longer than other tailors cut it) and an x-shape with perfect balance.

The coat is button point looks just a drop tight here but my weight fluctuates and overall I'm happy with it. More than anything, I think it looks very Huntsman.

And the trousers:



I've never received a pair of Huntsman trousers that I've thought of as less than wonderful. To me they are totally classic and a throwback to a past era.
post #3 of 95
Thread Starter 
Some notes on the details. The buttonholes are lovely. Not like those floating french jobs, but really nice.




Your front dart with throw off your pattern, so if those things bother you take that into account. For me, it only becomes and eye sore at the pocket as show here:




But some handwork is not so good. For example, why use white thread on a grey suit, particularly of some of the stitching is going to be evident in places visible to the naked eye? Seems like a real oversight at this price point:



And so that is it. I can show more garments but they will be done by the same house and the same hand. I can show other details. Curious to hear from others about their experiences.
post #4 of 95

but where is that errant stitching? if it's underneath the lapel then it's really not so visible...

 

on the row tailoring that i've seen, it's usually worsted fabric and even if the stitching is the same color it's quite visible. i dunno, it doesn't seem like an issue from here.

 

as far as the pattern around the darts, i don't consider that an kind of issue either. i think that on balance it's a very transparent patterning solution and visually accentuates physique, sort of how the cutaways of a tailcoat create a masculine 'v' even if the wearer is not in superb shape...

 

those buttonholes are nice. love the fabric.

post #5 of 95
Thread Starter 
I agree that the darts aren't an issue. Any front dart will do that. The purpose of that picture wasn't to highlight an issue as much as it was simply to show a feature of a huntsman coat. They have front darts and those darts manipulate the pattern.

As for the stitching, it is below the lapel and visible to the naked eye. It also appears in the trousers. I can't think of a good reason for it and it's only on one of my suits so I believe it is an error.
post #6 of 95

While there was a great interest in Savile Row and that style of dressing that is probably best described as "city boys", in the early noughties, it seems that that gave way quickly to interest in Italian tailoring.  We have the still ubiquitous Jermyn Street inspired stripey shirt, and perhaps fitted shirts in general, to thank that short-lived trend for, but for the most part, Italian tailoring seems to dominate both RTW and custom tailoring, and not just on Styleforum (which is a microcosm that exists in a much larger ecosystem.)

 

I think that this can be attributed to several factors, two of the most important being:

 

1) Italian tailoring is easily accessible, and a variety of price ranges, in both custom and RTW.  While a few of the new tailors on the Row reached out (Richard James, the inspiration for RJman's original moniker), tried to become more accessible, the big houses attempts at RTW and lower priced MTM lines (e.g. "Gieves", Kilgour French Stanbury's "Shanghai bespoke" MTM line, respectively), met with middling to minimal success.

 

2) Savile Row has never marketed itself properly.  It never formed a collective marketing group, and since each individual house is relatively unknown, no single house has been really able to break into the general consciousness.  Say "Savile Row", and the immediate associations are "chilly and unapproachable" and "old fashioned."  Compare this to say, the watch business, where players seem to be much more savvy.  I mean, Patek Philippe is hardly a democratic brand either.

 

Can all this be turned around?  Sure, why not?  We've seen plenty of turnarounds, and the prices of Savile Row, while high,are hardly out of the range of other luxury goods.  I don't know the proper strategy, of course.

post #7 of 95
Thread Starter 
LAGuy - on the marketing point, my sense is that these are places that historically haven't wanted to do much marketing. Production is limited because they can only produce so many suits in a year, and most houses can basically fill their dance card with quarterly trips to New York. They've liked being insular clubs. That being said, it feels like that is changing a little bit with Instagram profiles and the ease of zero cost marketing.
post #8 of 95

That is a beautiful suit.

 

---

 

In my limited experience, outside of SF, more people know about Savile Row than they do about Neapolitan tailoring.

post #9 of 95
Thread Starter 
Many of the savile row houses have their own calling card. For Huntsman it is the house tweeds. I suppose some might think of them as gimmicky but I love 'em. They are all milled at the ancient islay woollen mill in Scotland and I can't add much to what Huntsman says about it here: https://www.huntsmansavilerow.com/bespoke/your-choice-cut-and-cloth/huntsman-tweeds.

The depth of these tweeds is incredible. They can look grey/brown from afar and lime green up close. Tremendous color saturation and they are unique. Here are some pics of a tweed at various distances:




post #10 of 95
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Claghorn View Post

In my limited experience, outside of SF, more people know about Savile Row than they do about Neapolitan tailoring.

Do you mean among the general public or among a smaller subset of those who care about style? I think savile row definitely has name cachet among the gen pop, although my sense is that those who want to try bespoke are increasingly looking elsewhere.
post #11 of 95

People who care about style within the general public but who don't care so much as to qualify as hobbyists or clothing nerds. And yeah, in the general public at large thanks to Kingsmen, there is probably greater awareness of the Row.

post #12 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Claghorn View Post
 

People who care about style within the general public but who don't care so much as to qualify as hobbyists or clothing nerds. And yeah, in the general public at large thanks to Kingsmen, there is probably greater awareness of the Row.

I'd agree if you are talking about Neapolitan tailoring in particular, but not if you are talking about Italian tailoring, in general, which I feel is a better comparison.

 

If you walk into any store, from Mario's in Seattle to Bergdorf Goodman's in NYC, to Neiman Marcus's flagship in Houston, you will see rack and racks of Italian made and branded suits - from Canali and Corneliani "entry" level suits to $6K Kiton and Attolini joints.  This is the exposure of most customers who care to high end tailoring.  There will nary be an English tailoring brand in sight, except maybe forthe Paul Smith or occasional Richard James sighting.

post #13 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by agjiffy View Post

LAGuy - on the marketing point, my sense is that these are places that historically haven't wanted to do much marketing. Production is limited because they can only produce so many suits in a year, and most houses can basically fill their dance card with quarterly trips to New York. They've liked being insular clubs. That being said, it feels like that is changing a little bit with Instagram profiles and the ease of zero cost marketing.

I read somewhere that something like 40% of Savile Row commissions are American.  And I think that you are right re. filling their quotas, but I think that they are very worried about designers, upstart outfits like Steed, and Italian Sartoria's diminishing both their existing clientele, and more importantly, their future, clientele.  

 

From 2002: http://robbreport.com/Fashion/Feature-Savile-Row-ShakeUp

post #14 of 95
Saville Row is a bit over priced given the exchange rate. I wonder what would happen if they lowered prices to increase the amount of demand for their product.
post #15 of 95
Also, what about tailors timothy everest and them sweeney who don't reside on the row?
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