Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten – Savile Row

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Tailoring is a pure craft, a skill that requires time and talent. A trade that takes hours of intense labour to achieve a stunning result. It takes patience, a gentle touch and a knowing authority. It is a form of fashion that I well and truly fell in love with, and have remained so ever since. I first fell in love with the art of tailoring when I started my fashion degree. It was a wardrobe in the rag trade that I had not yet opened. I knew little of it, and had no appreciation for it. But as soon as I opened that door and dove right in, I was surrounded by such art, such magic, and some of the finest fabrics money can buy! Yes, I fell in love hard, and have never looked back.

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If you look up the definition of tailoring in any fashion dictionary, it will say the activity or trade of a tailor, or the style or cut of a garment. So what is a tailor? A tailor is well skilled in the area of making, mending or altering clothing, especially suits, coats and other outer wear garments. In history, tailors have been predominantly male, learning their craft as apprentices on the cutting room floor. It is still a trade in the fashion scene that is mainly occupied by men, although there are many women who have, or are, making themselves known in this trade. It takes a lot of time to truly custom make a suit, with the client being involved in most processes. From taking intricate measurements to choosing the fabric and trims, having a suit or other garment custom made for yourself is one of the greatest pleasures you can have. And it will be a wardrobe staple that will last you a lifetime!

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Through my love of this craft, I learnt about the coveted street in London called Savile Row. And I was lucky enough to visit it when I travelled to England a few years ago. The prestige and pomp of Savile Row was breathtaking. The heritage listed buildings and their lavish facades makes the section of street in the Westminster district something us old school fashionistas can swoon over. It still has an air of grandeur over it, even though the modern world has started to creep in over the last few years. Traditionally, the tailoring establishments on Savile Row would have their showroom on ground level, where clients would come in to be measured up, and their cutting room in the basement. The street dates back to 1731 when it was first appeared, and was completed in 1735. Tailors started to move onto the Row around 1803, when they were primarily constructing suits for military officer and politicians. As more businesses began to set up, the houses were altered to allow more natural light in on the ground floor. The Row got its name from Lady Dorothy Savile, the wife of one of the then estate owners. It was a region highly populated by affluent society, and has kept this air about it for all these years.

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The Row has seen many changes come and go over the years. Some of it was destroyed in World War Two, but was later rebuilt. Many of the original buildings still on the Row have now been heritage listed. Tailoring is a trade that began to lose its way in the 1960’s, due to the introduction of ready to wear clothing labels. In 1969, Nutters of Saville Row was established, to maintain this grand tradition, but to modernise its style and approach. Headed by designers Richard James, Ozwald Boateng, and Timothy Everest, the group fought to keep the Row alive, but introduced new ways to do so.

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There are some famous names who have been regular clients of the Row over the years, including Napoleon 3rd, Prince Charles and Winston Churchill. The Beatles also occupied a space at number three Savile Row that they used as a recording studio. It was here that they recorded the track ‘Let it be’, and their final live performance was staged on the rooftop of number three in January 1969. The term bespoke is believed to have originated on the Row. For a garment to be classified as bespoke, it must primarily be cut and sewn by hand. The restrictions around this term however have been loosened over the years, with bespoke tailoring now allowed to be machine sewn, as long as it is still made to measure. It’s estimated that about fifty hours of hand labor per suit is required to achieve the perfect result.

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Known as the Golden Mile of Tailoring, Savile Row has in recent years seen the resurgence of the traditional tailor back on its streets. In the 1950’s there were roughly forty tailors occupying the Row, including the greats Henry Poole and Co, and Gieves & Hawkes. This number dropped radically in the early noughties to only nineteen businesses. But by 2014, the Row was flourishing again with forty four ateliers on the scene. There is now also a mix of modern eateries scattered along the Row, and some big name department stores have also managed to filter in.

If you ever get the opportunity to have something tailor made for yourself, then it’s a must do! You will never regret the feeling of opulence and pride when wearing a made to measure garment. The fine craftsmanship, the impeccable cut and the unlimited selections that will be present to you is something of bucket list quality. Tailoring is a true form of art and skill, one that must be appreciated and understood by the wearer to reach its ultimate potential. Let’s hope this magnificent tradition is never lost.

Love Always, Anastacia Rose xx

 

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