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SAVILE ROW TAILORS

Savile Row tailoring is men and women’s bespoke tailoring that takes place on Savile Row and neighbouring streets in Mayfair, Central London. In 1846, Henry Poole, credited as being the “Founder of Savile Row”, opened an entrance to his tailoring premises into No. 32 Savile Row.[1] The term “bespoke” is understood to have originated in Savile Row when cloth for a suit was said to “be spoken for” by individual customers.[2] The short street has been termed the “golden mile of tailoring”, where customers have included Charles, Prince of Wales, Winston Churchill, Lord Nelson, Napoleon III, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Laurence Olivier, Duke Ellington, and Jude Law.
In 1969, Nutters of Savile Row modernised the style and approach of the traditional tailors; a modernisation which continued in the 1990s with the arrival of designers including Richard James, Ozwald Boateng and Timothy Everest. With increasing rents the number of tailoring businesses on Savile Row had declined to 19 by 2006.[4][5] There were also criticisms from Giorgio Armani of falling behind the times.[6][7] However, since the mid-noughties Savile Row has been enjoying a resurgence, perhaps typified by the arrival of tailors like Cad and the Dandy, who have sought re-invigoration by means of modern technologies such as the internet. A local online directory in October 2014 listed 44 tailoring and clothing businesses on or nearby SR.
The website GQ British featured an article in January 2018 about Savile Row.[9] It contains a list of SR tailors and states: “London is undeniably menswear’s global capital and the most important street in this world is Savile Row, a modest Mayfair row of the men’s tailors that quite simply make the best suits in the world.
On the website Town and Country House, writer Dylan Jones is quoted in an article published in 2017 which is a guide to SR: “London is the home of menswear. We invented the suit, and in Savile Row we have the most important men’s shopping street in the world but we also have the very best in contemporary formal wear. While the first tailors moved onto the street Savile Row in 1806, the origins of its tailoring history can be traced back to the beginning of the 17th century.[11] The story begins with a tailor called Robert Baker (RB), originally from Staplegrove in Somerset, who bought up land to the north west of Charing Cross on the back of money made from the sale of Piccadills, a type of large broad collar.[Working from “a poore little shop in ye Strand” RB and his wife Elizabeth started a business which pitched their trade at the rich, among which was Lady Cope. Quoting from a contemporary source: “By ye means of ye Ladie Cope, whose Taylor hee was,fell into a way of makinge Pickadillys … for most of the Nobilitie and Gentrie” RB soon had “three score men att worke” and with the opening of a shopping arcade the New Exchange by King James 1 next door in 1609, business prospered. Indeed, so much so that by 1613, “poore Countrey Taylor” RB had bought land for £50 (now over £12,000), which was then open country, and built himself a comfortable new home near where the Lyric Theatre now stands on Shaftesbury Avenue.
Soon, RB’s new residence gained the nickname “Pickadilly Hall” and with other properties being developed by himself on that land, the nearest roadway also acquired the name “Pickadilly”, which became modern-day Piccadilly.[11] With his next property development RB bought 22 acres of land nearby on which, in present-day terms, includes Golden Square where many cloth merchants used to reside and several streets in Soho where subcontracting tailors are traditionally based.[11] The plot of land where SR was eventually developed was originally called Ten Acre Close and “was created by the sale on 29 June 1622 of three adjacent parcels of ground, then all in St. Martin’s in the Fields, to William Maddox, citizen and merchant tailor of London, by Richard Wilson of King’s Lynn, gentleman.”[13] Ten-acre close was part of 35 acres bought by WM for £1,450 (now nearly £340,000) of undeveloped land which now covers East Mayfair.[8][12] This estate was handed down through Maddox’s heirs for many generations, until it was passed to the Reverend George Pollen in 1764.[8] As a result of this, the Pollen Estate was founded and still exists to this day, part-owned by Norway’s Oil Fund since August 2014.
Tailoring has been associated with Savile Row the area since the 19th century, when Beau Brummell, who epitomised the well-dressed man, patronised the tailors congregated on the Burlington Estate, notably around Cork Street, on which John Levick in 1790 at Number 9 was among the first.
Gieves & Hawkes on No. 1 Savile Row
The Savile Row Bespoke Association was founded in 2004 to protect and to develop bespoke tailoring as practised in Savile Row and the surrounding streets.[16] Founder members include: Anderson & Sheppard, Dege & Skinner, Gieves & Hawkes and Henry Poole. The member tailors are required to put at least 50 hours of hand labour into each two-piece suit.
In a March 2006 report by the City of Westminster (Department of Planning and City Development), “Bespoke Tailoring in London’s West End”, it was estimated that between 6,000 and 7,000 men’s suits were made in and around the Savile Row area annually. This represented a turnover of approximately £21 million.[4] A Reuters article in February 2013 suggested that the total revenue for the informal group of suitmakers was now estimated to be £30–35 million, with several tailoring houses having over 10% growth in recent years.The Fashion Industry’s contribution as a whole to the British economy is an estimated £26 billion a year.[19]
In November 2016, SR became a Special Policy Area within the City of Westminster. This gives SR special planning status to safeguard its character: “Development in the Savile Row Special Policy Area will complement and enhance its role as an international centre of excellence for bespoke tailoring.

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