Originally Posted by LA Guy
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.
I agree with your two points to a degree except on MTM certainly from my experience at Gieves they did well enough. In terms of being old fashioned I agree, the trouble is this is part of the draw as well.
I don't think they are nearly as wounded as you may think, they do complain about how hard it is to scale the business, about rents and how they don't make good margins and this gives the wrong impression and is really counterproductive. Likely this stems from the bigger companies like Gieves wanting to be a major global fashion player, like Prada or Armani, the directors also went to schools with friends that now run oil companies so from that perspective you get a lot of feelings of inadequacy or "cries of poverty".
In my experience they do well enough with bespoke, as well as could be expected anyway. For the most part they are at capacity with year round turnarounds, they almost don't need or want more bespoke clients, what they want to do is wholesale, or do MTM because this is scalable. I think bespoke is actually scalable myself, history shows us that Savile row workrooms on site were once huge but to regenerate that kind of workforce in London, well the task is just too expensive and daunting for people to attempt.
In terms of marketing I they are losing out by going for big ticket conventional marketing that is relatively small as opposed to grass roots or viral marketing where they would have bigger clout, this is just them being behind the times. Its a funny thing Marketing and PR, its just really about that perception, if you aren't visible people think you are dead in the water or even out of business and perhaps is perhaps some peoples perception here, in reality you may just be too busy doing the business to do the marketing or be overlooking it.
I can't speak for all the houses on the row, though I imagine some of them are quite sickly, perhaps a lot more than others, this is just me talking about my own experiences with the houses I know well. Its a funny thing, some of the smaller ones really seemed mysterious, impenetrable and sometimes even odd. When I was working at Richard James I still had friends at Gieves and some staff from RJ had friends at Kilgour (during the carlo era) so we would hang out socially and have a drink every day after work at the masons arms. We all knew each other very well, but on the other hand I had no idea what anyone on the rest of the street was really doing, of course rumors were always rife but a lot of time people really kept to themselves, it was a small street but there was a real gulf between certain firms.Edited by David Reeves - 6/21/16 at 7:53am