Savile Row Tailoring

Savile Row tailoring from Jasper Littman


Savile Row, in the heart of London’s West End is famous for bespoke tailoring. For over a hundred and fifty years it has been the home of the finest tailoring and it has built an international reputation as the benchmark for well-made suits.
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. Today a bespoke suit ordered from a Savile Row establishment can cost as much as £4,500 for a 2-piece in an ordinary fabric.
Savile Row has its own style which can be identified by a number of features: a soft but straight shoulder line, a high front-buttoning position, a curved waist and a high and prominent sleeve crown. These are some of the hallmarks that make the quintessential English suit.
It takes years of training and dedication to become a Savile Row tailor, cutter or finisher, and competition is fierce. A tailor can expect to work 15 years before that experience is recognised. The result is a standard of tailoring the match of any in the world.

A brief history of Savile Row

Savile Row, commonly misspelt Saville Row, was built between 1731 and 1735 as part of the development of the Burlington Estate, and is named after Lady Dorothy Savile, wife of the 3rd Earl of Burlington.
During the 19th century fashion and stylish dressing became a preoccupation of the gentry, and Beau Brummell epitomised the well-dressed man about town. He patronised the tailors on the Burlington Estate and by 1803 some had moved to premises in Savile Row.
In 1846, Henry Poole who is credited as being the ‘Founder of Savile Row’, opened his late father’s tailoring premises at № 32 Savile Row.
For over a hundred years very little changed until Tommy Nutter opened his place in 1969. The choice of fabric and cut offered at Nutters of Savile Row dramatically changed the traditional style and approach of the other tailoring establishments.

Although this modernisation has continued into the 21st Century, many of the existing companies are still an oasis of old-fashioned craft and personal service.
Sadly, with increasing rents the number of tailors on the Row had fallen to just 19 by 2006. Concern grew that an increase in commercial development in the area would price the tailors – many of whom manufacture their suits on the premises – out of the local property market altogether.
Savile Row however continues to be a mecca for well-dressed men the world over who want the very best of personal tailoring.