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Richard James?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
I keep hearing about Richard James and the "new" Savile Row, but haven't heard much about him around these parts. What are the general opinions, as far as quality, style, etc?
post #2 of 27
Where is RJman?
post #3 of 27
Hi mbmike, These are only my personal opinions. These days I go to RJ only for accessories, as I find his other products either of low quality or extremely overpriced. And their business practice of offering only an oversized size 32 and above in casual pants and jeans I find really indifferent (this may have changed recently). I visit RJ for their incredibly well-made and cleverly-designed socks (surprisingly, his socks, and in particular the wool ones, are much harder wearing than the Pantherella-labeled socks --I have some that are 2 yrs old, used every week, and look almost new) , ties (I only like the matte ones, the shiny ones I think are very tacky), belts, and cufflinks (the solid metal ones are fantastic... the glass ones and some with attached stones have serious quality control problems --better go to a real jeweler). Cheers.
post #4 of 27
OK... The so-called New Savile Row is a mediatized phenomenon which started on the backs of several celebrity designer/tailors about twelve years ago. Richard James, who had been a well-received cult designer, opened his first stand-alone shop in a location that happened to be on Savile Row. In addition to his trademark colorful designs he offered bespoke tailoring at a then-reasonable price in conjunction with a more established SR house. Around the same time, Timothy Everest, a tailor who had served as assistant to legendary 60s Savile Row designer/tailor Tommy Nutter (whose firm made the suits 3 Beatles are wearing on the Abbey Road cover), opened a shop in Spitalfields, an area nowhere near Savile Row. Both shops offered an approachable and media-friendly take on bespoke tailoring, from shops that were bright (unlike the stereotypical SR shop) and funky to RTW lines that raised their profile in magazines, etc. (bespoke tailoring almost NEVER figures in a magazine shoot). A little while later came flamboyant designer/tailors like Ozwald Boateng, Marc Powell, Marc Griffiths, Serena Kelsey, Charlie Allen, etc. By the mid-1990s the British press were identifying a "new Savile Row" trend, and it is fair to say that some of these designer/tailors did help draw attention to the old tailoring traditions, even if they didn't have much to do with real bespoke. Cool Britannia's flash in the pan brought British style back into focus, while soon after the suit became sort of hip in a biz-caz backlash which has not yet completely hit the states. I use the virgule designer/tailors as many of the shops listed above are designers rather than tailors, ie the person whose name is on the shop doesn't actually know bespoke tailoring but rather designs particular silhouettes and a RTW line. Understandably this has led to ire from "real" Savile Row tailors. Certainly, the influx of designer shops into the Savile Row area (Oki-Ni, Jil Sander, the RL shop) has contributed to rising rents which make it ever harder for tailors to maintain a presence on the Row. This said, all the way back in the 1960s Tommy Nutter, no tailor he, had a shop on the Row where business partner Edward Sexton and colleagues made the suits. Also in the 1960s, John Pearse, who trained at defunct tailors Hawes and Curtis, ran a psychedelic clothing shop on the King's Road called Granny Takes a Trip. (Pearse is still around (Meard St) although Hawes and Curtis has been relaunched as a middle-market brand.) So there is a certain precedent for the bespoke designer, although it's decidedly overdone. Kilgour should be fined for aping Ozwald Boateng and calling its bespoke tailoring "bespoke couture". As to Richard James in particular, the RTW suits have little relation to the bespoke suits except the same rather nice cloth, all supposedly designed by Richard James. (While you can find similar versions of the more sober cloths it's safe to say no one else is ordering a lilac paisley suit cloth). The prices at all of these "new SR" shops have shot up and bespoke tailoring is really not a good deal at any of them. I have no acquaintance with RJ bespoke. The suits are nicely cut but the construction is middling (fused). The shirts are often gorgeous and are also well-cut, but horrendously expensive (150 pounds). They have nice cloth and nice buttons but construction isn't what you'd find in a good Jermyn St shirt, though it's not really the same market. The ties are handmade and are gorgeous; I think the quality is excellent although some disagree with me -- I'd say they're at the level of Charvet and about as delicate too. Socks are by Pantherella and are excellent; the cufflinks (I have 4 pair in glass, semiprecious and sterling) are inspired in design but have been knocked off everywhere, so the high price can be a putoff. Almost everything is made in Britain, so it's not quite like certain designers farming everything to China and pocketing a huge markup. The cashmere is quality and Scottish, although I don't think it's worth the high RJ price. The leathergoods (IMHO) are uniformly excellent (handmade belts, wallets, address books, etc.) Shoes are by Crockett and Jones and are uniquely designed; price is not any worse than one would pay at Polo Ralph Lauren. The leather jackets are gorgeous but very, very expensive. I have a mackintosh from RJ (which I think is actually made by Mackintosh) which is in a unique twill and is excellent. I concur with the above poster then... accessories good; quality either very good and overpriced or disappointing and overpriced, depending on the item. I still think RJ's a genius with color. That sadist hosting the comedy central show "Distraction" appears to have an all-RJ wardrobe. The clothes do make him look a bit slimmer... though I did cringe seeing him wear a shirt I own.
post #5 of 27
I hear RJ is just a second rate Duchamp...
post #6 of 27
Quote:
I hear RJ is just a second rate Duchamp...
Oh yeah?  I hear American Trad is just a dumbed-down British look. Yeah.  And bowties are for weenies. Take that. And I dissect frogs.
post #7 of 27
Quote:
And bowties are for weenies. Take that.  
Hey. That's "nerds." Bowties are for nerds.
post #8 of 27
Quote:
That sadist hosting the comedy central show "Distraction" appears to have an all-RJ wardrobe. The clothes do make him look a bit slimmer... though I did cringe seeing him wear a shirt I own.
I did wonder who made his suits. I love that show. I think his standup is hilarious too.
post #9 of 27
From my own experience - ties are stunning in design and construction but at A$210 in Australia they are now overpriced (doubled in price in 4 years.). I often thought they used the mose delicate woven silks until I bought a couple of Kiton 7-folds recently that are like sheer. Suits (I'm wearing one now as I write) look good but are thickly fused. But they look awesome - one on now is navy with light blue pinstripes and light blue lining. Shirts excellent too with wide variety of colours and nice cut. Overall, excellent in aesthetics, above average in construction and poor (now) in value.
post #10 of 27
Thread Starter 
Wait, even the bespoke stuff is fused, or just the RTW??
post #11 of 27
Quote:
Wait, even the bespoke stuff is fused, or just the RTW??
AFAIK just the RTW. But bespoke is pushing 4800 US dollars. Big jump. And I have the suspicion the MTM is fused but haven't verfiied.
post #12 of 27
If my memory serves me correctly, Richard James products have been made under license by Japanese companies for sale in Japan for a number of years now -- Fairfax for ties and Kakiuchi for tailoring. Henry Poole has had similar Japanese RTW licensing agreements. The last Richard James garments I inspected at Isetan were fused but not thickly.
post #13 of 27
A few years ago when I visited him, James Levett, a bespoke tailor on Savile Row (#13), was making RJ garments, maybe their M2M suits? Levett, for a time at least, has made suits for actor Hugh Grant, one of the more dapper actors. I've received postcards in the past alerting me to his traveling itinerary, so, hopefully, he hasn't hung up his cutting shears for good. Grayson
post #14 of 27
So Levett travels? Interesting,considering that he probably charges less than what Richard James charges for his suits. I believe that the RJ MTM is actually made in a factory. My suspicion is that it's simply altering the RTW pattern and manufacturing a suit by the same industrial process. I could be wrong. AFAIK Jim Levett still makes the RJ bespoke. No Slovakian tailors yet. It's probable that the Hugh Grant suits he made were for the Richard James level as for a time Hugh couldn't shut up about RJ -- made me like him more. Now he's infatuated with Kilgour. Bottom line: New Savile Row? Media phenomenon. Useful by-product? Punters like me learned that the rest of Savile Row still exists and can still be relevant. If anyone has the RJ glass cufflinks that are a cube on one end and a globe on the other, I'd be interested.
post #15 of 27
Not sure if Hugh Grant is infatuated with Kilgour's or if it's the other way around.  Kilgour's has had an aggressive marketing effort to increase their visibiity by aligning themselves with celebrities, and might be offering Grant a wardrobe gratis.  So, the next time Joan Rivers asks Grant on the Red Carpet who made his tux, and he exclaims, "Kilgour's", that might be the arrangement. Grayson
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