Unpicking the Seams of Savile Row: Tempus meets six top tailoring houses, in this exclusive photo story
London’s Savile Row has been a hallowed home of fine suits and accessories for more than 200 years. Meet the masters of modern style leading the world’s most famous street into the future of global fashion
Savile Row has enjoyed something of a resurgence in recent times. For all the trials and tribulations that the Covid-19 pandemic provided, there was one undeniable positive — the pandemic became a catalyst for people to appreciate the clothes they felt comfortable wearing.
At the height of the lockdown, the picture was looking bleak for the Row — particularly following the closure of stalwarts Hardy Amies and Kilgour. However, tailoring houses and retailers have since recorded some of their highest numbers. It turns out, if you make something of genuine quality and craftsmanship, using beautiful materials that last a long time, there will be significant demand.
This – coinciding with the microscope on fast fashion, damaging statistics on climate change, plus a continued cost-of-living crisis affecting the UK – has also influenced our collective spending habits. A shift to buying less – but buying better.
It stands to reason that Savile Row is, in fact, becoming more of a go-to option for the wider public, particularly due to its expanded offering, which now includes more in-depth ready-to-wear and accessories, as well as female- and gender-neutral-orientated clothing.
Being able to understand the past in order to navigate the present and cut a dash into the future, Savile Row has welcomed a host of new faces to sit alongside its heritage tailoring houses. Here, we meet some of the biggest names on the Row…
RAV MATHARU | CLOTHSURGEON
The latest addition to Savile Row happens to be the first ever brand in its long and illustrious history to offer streetwear. In turn, clothsurgeon’s founder Rav Matharu is also the first ever designer of South Asian descent to take up permanent residency. The brand’s name came about during his time at university in Leeds, and his propensity for cutting patterns with a scalpel. Rav’s stint as a professional footballer with Leeds United, meanwhile, introduced him to the world of street culture by way of football boots and clothing off the pitch.
Stepping into clothsurgeon, at number 40 Savile Row, the influence of traditional tailoring, streetwear, football and wider art culture hits you, while the subtle smell of agarbatti incense nods to his heritage. Rav’s love for craftsmanship is very much apparent in the garments he makes and displays, and his appreciation for design and quality materials allows for customers to come into the store — which is as much a gallery space as it is a Savile Row tailor — to become the creator. It’s something traditional tailors have long been doing, but with the fusion of streetwear, it provides the bespoke touch and finesse to otherwise casual pieces, worn by generations young and old.
“I’m quite obsessive in the pursuit of perfection, even though I know that it doesn’t exist. There’ll never be a perfect product but I know I’ll work really hard to get to that point,” says Rav, who founded the ground-breaking label in 2012 and brought it to the hallowed Row last August. “I think that’s what keeps me going; the idea of making the same thing over and over again would bore me. Sitting down with customers and creating new products, exciting pieces and helping them navigate their style if they need advice… “I feel like I’ve gained that knowledge from studying product for the last 30 years—from football boots, to sneakers, to streetwear brands to high end fashion and bespoke.”
MATTIA FINALDI | CAD & THE DANDY
Since 2008 Cad & The Dandy has made significant headway on Savile Row by offering a meticulous and extensive ready-to-wear line that sits perfectly alongside its bespoke offering.
The brand’s use of space to best showcase its clothes at number 7/8 — everything from tailoring, formal and outerwear, knitwear, accessories and Arthur Sleep slippers — is something to behold. Mattia Finaldi, who joined as a tailoring consultant in 2022, believes that quality ready-to-wear is now in high demand on Savile Row. “The ready-to-wear we offer is made to the same standard and follows the same steps as our bespoke — inlays and all,” he says. “Our tailors know the clothes inside out and can take them apart and easily put them back together again. This allows us to do as many alterations as necessary to get as close to a bespoke fit, allowing us to maintain the Savile Row cut and quality at a more affordable and accessible price point.” Although experimental in his own personal style, Mattia still recommends a classic option for a first investment piece.
“Typically, for a first-time customer, we will always suggest a strong navy three-piece suit, in all-year-round worsted cloth,” he says. “A three-piece is a no-brainer as it is essentially two suits in one — ideal for more special occasions as well as dressing it down. It’s timeless and elegant – you’ll never get bored or regret your decision.”
ROBIN WINCH | BENNETT WINCH
The beauty of a shopping experience in London is that the city is a prime location if you’re looking for a full, head-to-toe ensemble. A tried and tested investment, Bennett Winch’s leather bags and accessories have taken Savile Row by storm since the brand’s move from Duke Street in late 2022. Stunning craftsmanship aside, one of the brand’s biggest draws is that it is entirely British made — a key factor for patrons when purchasing goods, particularly from Savile Row. The association of British craft with longevity is something not many brands are lucky enough to lay claim to. Bennett Winch, however, certainly can. “We’re here to make timeless products that, once introduced to the range, will be there forever,” says co-founder Robin Winch.
The proof, as they say, is in the pudding, with each one of the seventy-three products the brand introduced since their inception still high in demand. There’s just something special about a product that’s been handmade in the UK, in a timeless style and ergonomic design. By using quality materials, and ensuring they remain well looked after, these pieces can last decades. Given Savile Row’s reputation for creating exactly this, the presence of Bennett Winch is very much a welcomed one.
DAVIDE TAUB | GIEVES & HAWKES
With a career on Savile Row spanning more than two decades, tailor Davide Taub has certainly seen his fair share of activity. A key element that has helped sustain his work is a constant understanding of what the client wants, as well as where style , as a whole, is going.
“Whether it comes out as a two-piece business suit or tailored garments that are seen as being much more versatile, the age, background and nationality of the customer doesn’t really come into account now. We will have cloth to show them, but you’ll never know what you’re going to make until you’ve had a conversation with the customers, understanding what their expectations are, what they hope the garment will do or purely how it will feel,” says Davide. “It’s obvious people still love having handmade garments, they still love the personal feeling of having something made by them, guided by them, kind of almost designed by them.”
By delving into the wants and needs of their clientele, they are able to shape and develop garments in the present, which will ultimately set the course for future style. Interestingly, Davide goes on to say: “There’s no real binary answer to what the next ten years will look like, because styles are always shifting; meaning there’s no one particular look that will define this era. Every decade is probably the same but, looking back, people may say everyone in the ‘60s was wearing a tight mohair suit, everyone in the ‘70s was wearing purple flares. Of course, not everyone was.”
One of the biggest shifts Davide has noticed is the use of one outfit that serves multiple purposes. Traditionally, you would have a classic suit for work — particularly if you were in the city — a slightly-more-formal option for meetings, a separate and more relaxed ensemble for post-work drinks, and a much more casual one for weekends. “Now people don’t want to go through that, so you have to be more conscientious with your designs and find a medium where you have a garment or garments that will look good in all these situations,” he says. “Maybe it’s even the subtlest of changes, such as changing the shirt you’re wearing or what kind of footwear. We do make a lot more suits knowing that trainers may now be worn with them rather than formal shoes, and even in the trainer world, designs have been refined to look good with more formal garments.”
NINA PENLINGTON | EDWARD SEXTON
It’s clear that the need to meet the demands of the client is something that threads Savile Row brands together, but so is the need to continuously innovate. There’s one name that usually springs to mind in this regard, and that is Edward Sexton. He, along with business partner Tommy Nutter, founded Nutters of Savile Row on Valentine’s Day in 1969. They were rebellious, they were disruptive and they changed the face of tailoring. Now, just over 30 years since Sexton left to set up in Knightsbridge, the brand has returned to the Row, with one of today’s most formidable cutters at the helm. Having worked under Davide Taub for several years at Gieves & Hawkes Bespoke, following an apprenticeship at Dege & Skinner by way of a six-month residency in New York, Nina Penlington joined Edward Sexton in 2022 to ensure the future of the brand remains as innovative as before. Nina says: “It’s been quite a change. My style has always leaned towards that ‘70s luxe feel so, stylistically, it very much feels like I’ve come home.”
The Sexton silhouette is iconic, due in part to the fact that some of the most iconic names in music and film have adorned it. Sir Mick Jagger, anyone? The question remains, are there any individuals that are challenging the status quo today?
“Within some of these houses are people who are [innovating] in their own way, either in terms of cutting and making technique, or style, and I do think that we’re going to start seeing that more over the next few years — because we have to,” says Nina. “If Savile Row and the people within it don’t innovate and look towards the future of tailoring, and what that might mean to the modern person, we’re not going to be here much longer. There will always be disrupters on Savile Row—they just might be doing it a little more quietly. The people that want to find those people, will.”
While the diversity of products and craft may be prevalent, there is still disparity within the industry in terms of gender — both within the houses, as well as the clientele frequenting the street. “Being one of the very few female cutters on the Row, I never really saw that many women. But the idea of gender-neutral clothing, I can see that much more. I’ve had a lot of clients that have been pushing that envelope much further, which is really exciting for me, as well as the fluidity of menswear and womenswear in general,” she says. “I hope that does foster change a little bit further. There’s still a way to go in terms of women’s cutting and style; a lot of the traditional ways of cutting for women are not that sexy, frankly. I think having more women on the Row can only be a good thing.”
MOLLY ANDERSON | RICHARD ANDERSON
Molly Anderson is quietly but assuredly making a name for herself in the tailoring world. An incredibly talented undercutter, she has followed in the footsteps of her father, Richard, and joined the family brand that shares his name, at 13 Savile Row. Having set up shop back in 2001, Richard Anderson was, at that point, the first tailoring house to have opened on the Row for 50 years. It quickly became an institution and, with the addition of Molly to its ranks, the future is most certainly promising. “I’ve only been on the Row for a short time,” says Molly, who began her apprenticeship in 2020. “But it’s my favourite street in London and has a fabulous history. I love the people; the houses each have their own style and point of view but it is a close-knit community. It’s hard work, of course, but great when it pays off with happy customers from all walks of life.” In terms of noticing the trend of style choices from customers, it’s evident that there’s a playfulness at hand. “It’s great to see a real resurgence of customers having fun with their tailoring,” Molly says. “People not having to wear suits as often, and now that life has opened up, if you will, I’ve noticed people are having fun with bright colours, fun linings, unusual cloth choices and patterns. It really shows the joy of bespoke tailoring and
Molly also touches on Nina Penlington’s view on Savile Row’s diversity. She says: “It is sometimes seen as a closed set, so we always try to introduce people, show what we can do, to attract different crowds – both to us as a tailoring house and to the scene in general. There is always room for diversity, and we’re slowly seeing more women working in the industry as well as becoming customers which is always inspiring.”