A cutter from Gieves & Hawkes describes making military clothing for Michael Jackson’s Bad tour.
Steed Bespoke Tailors Coming to San Francisco, April 13th
As some readers may know, I’ve been trying to persuade Steed Bespoke Tailors to come out to San Francisco for over six months now. Well a few weeks ago, they finally booked their first ticket, and are scheduled to arrive on Saturday, April 13th, and then depart Tuesday, April 16th.
A little background on Steed and why this announcement is so special: Steed was founded in 1995 by tailors Edwin DeBoise and Thomas Mahon, who at the time worked as cutters at Savile Row’s Anderson & Sheppard. Thomas has since moved on to start his own firm in Cumbria, but Edwin continues at Steed. Before working at Anderson & Sheppard, Edwin received his training at the London College of Fashion and worked under the legendary Edward Sexton. His tailoring style is very much informed by these experiences, and in my opinion, he currently makes some of the most beautiful garments in the world of classic men’s tailoring.
Now, bespoke garments are expensive, and certainly not for everyone. However, if you have the money and are looking for something special (perhaps for a wedding or new job), this is a great opportunity. Steed cuts a unique style known as the London drape cut. Oversimplified, it’s designed with a fuller, more sculpted chest that makes the wearer look masculine, muscular, and comfortably relaxed. You can see this in the photos above, but if it’s not obvious, check out a post I wrote here, which highlights this silhouette a bit more clearly. In addition to the signature chest, Steed’s cuts a soft, unpadded shoulder, slightly nipped waist, and high armholes. The effect is something very comfortable, and very stylish.
This being bespoke, you can ask for your commissions to be made in any way you want, but you’ll want to stick to their general house style (meaning, the soft shoulders and shaped chest). When choosing a bespoke tailor, it’s always wise to stay within the style they specialize in, and ask for little tweaks here and there, rather than request something dramatically different.
It’s my hope to drum up enough interest in the Bay Area to keep Steed coming back. This is partly for my own selfish reasons, since I hope to use them on a regular basis, but I also think this is a rather special opportunity for people who live in this area. They’re less expensive than many of the Savile Row tailors who visit, and I think they cut a very unique and beautiful silhouette. Since Put This On has a rather big audience, I’m happy to help answer any basic questions if you email me, but will refer you to Steed for anything complex (I just don’t want them to receive a hundred emails in the middle of their workday). For booking appointments, however, you should just directly contact Steed.
(Pictured above: two of Steed’s clients looking fantastic in their commissions)
Put This On Season Two: So Far
Above: Episode 4
Below: Episodes 3, 2 and 1
This is one of my favorite clips from the BBC’s documentary on Savile Row (which, if you haven’t already seen, you must watch immediately).
Styleforum member radicaldog also has an interesting project going for a custom travel jacket. The thread he started for it is a fun read.
Old School Technical Sportswear I.
Colonel John Blashford-Snell gets his bespoke “Explorers Suit” altered at Norton & Sons before he sets out up the Amazon to search for a meteorite.
Savile Row’s New Tradition
Excerpted from S2E3 of Put This On: “(New) Traditions”
We learn the history of London’s Savile Row, and talk about where it’s been and where it’s going with Patrick Grant, owner and designer of Norton & Sons and E. Tautz, and Richard Anderson, owner and tailor of the tailoring house that bears his name.
Put This On Season Two, Episode 3: (New) Traditions
Put This On, a web series about dressing like a grownup, visits London, where we examine how traditions are being reinvented in the birthplace of classic menswear.
We go to Savile Row, where we meet up with a historical guide to talk about the history of the world’s oldest tailoring street. We also chat with the tailor Richard Anderson about what’s special about The Row. Patrick Grant, the owner and designer of Norton & Sons, talks about how Savile Row can become a vital part of the international fashion world again.
Just off Savile Row, we go to the basement showroom of W. Bill, the world’s most legendary tweed merchant. Ray Hammet, who’s worked at W. Bill for decades, shows us around the stacks of wooly majesty.
In our PTO: Man segment, we talk with Ian Bruce, painter and member of the band The Correspondents, about re-imagining the SoHo dandy for the 21st century. He takes us through London’s red light district, and tells us why he doesn’t want to look like a painter at the end of a long day of painting.
We visit the tie factory owned and operated by Drake’s of London to learn how a high-quality tie is made, from fabric to finished product. Then we buy one to send to a supporter of the show.
Plus Dave Hill tells where sport sunglasses are and are not appropriate, in Rudiments.
Watch it elsewhere:
Executive Producers: Jesse Thorn & Adam Lisagor
Director: Benjamin Ahr Harrison
Host / Writer / Producer: Jesse Thorn
Rudiments: Dave Hill
Producer: Kristian Brodie
Director of Photography: Charlie Cook
Sound: Kristian Brodie
Are These The Costumed Heroes Of Savile Row?
I was going to let it pass without comment, but since I’ve received a thousand million bajillion emails and tweets on the subject, a brief word on the protest of Abercrombie & Fitch’s plans to install a children’s store on Savile Row, around the corner from their London flagship shop, which is just off the Row on Burlington Gardens.
First of all: the folks at The Chap, who organized the whole thing, are generally very amusing. They understand that they’re being silly, and I tip my cap to them for that. The Chap Olympiad sounds like a lot of fun, and I’m all for tweed, brogues and neckties, obviously. Even if I’m not so into the tobacco thing that they’re obsessed with - a little stinky and cancery for my taste.
Second of all: I am no fan of Abercrombie & Fitch. Well, I should amend that: I’m no fan of the contemporary Abercrombie & Fitch, which is one of the worst clothing brands in the world. At one time, it was pretty much my ideal clothing brand, selling adventure clothes to the greatest adventurers in the world, but then it wound down, went belly-up, got bought by The Limited and transformed into what it is today. Which is awful. The worst.
I have to admit, though, that my general feeling about the protest is that costumes are for costume parties. Or fancy dress parties, as they call them over in the UK. The pictures of the protest embarrass me as much as they amuse me. It’s tough enough to defend traditional style against accusations of cosplay when you’re not actually engaging in cosplay. And given that the tailors of Savile Row sell contemporary, wearable, real-life-appropriate clothing, perhaps contemporary, wearable, real-life-appropriate clothing might have been worn for the protest.
The real truth is that when we were on Savile Row a few months ago, doing interviews for the very next episode of Put This On, the businessmen of Savile Row were completely unbothered by A&F. Richard Anderson, the tailor-owner of one of the Row’s more successful storefronts told me that while he’s no fan of their clothes, he appreciates the foot traffic. Patrick Grant, the owner of Norton & Sons, told us the same thing. They’re protected by a pretty extensive system of laws that require tailor-manufacturing to use most of the street’s square footage, so while it’s annoying and gross, it’s not really a threat to them.
So, in summary: A&F awful. The Chap charming. Savile Row pretty safe. Costumes for fancy dress.
(photo via The AP)
We Got It For Free: Anderson & Sheppard’s A Style is Born
Anderson & Sheppard’s new book, A Style is Born, is being released today. The 296-page volume is special in that it’s part of Anderson & Sheppard’s evolutionary shift, but to understand that, we should start with some history.
The company was founded in 1906, and originally called Anderson & Simmons. It changed to its current name, however, when Mr. Simmons sold his stake to Sidney Horatio Sheppard, a trouser cutter at the firm. Per Anderson, one of the original co-founders, was a Swedish expatriate who learned his trade from an innovative Dutch tailor named Frederick Scholte. Scholte is credited with creating the London cut (also known as the English drape), which is a term that refers to the way a jacket hangs (or “drapes”) from the shoulders. There is more room over the chest and shoulder blades, which results in conspicuous, but graceful, folds of cloth that gently descend from the collarbone. The uppersleeves are built generously, but the armholes are cut high, so that that jacket’s collar never lifts off of the wearer’s neck. The shoulders are also unpadded, which leaves them to slope naturally along the body’s lines. The combination of all these things make the English drape cut extremely comfortable and easy to move around in, but still adheres to many of the basic standards of fit that make a suit well tailored.
This cut was popularized by the Duke of Windsor, who wanted to rebel against his “buttoned up” childhood. The Duke longed for a more comfortable way of dressing - he often found himself removing his coat, ripping off his tie, loosening his collar, and rolling up his sleeves. It was a gesture not just for comfort, but also, in a symbolic sense, freedom. In Scholte, he found the perfect simpatico - a man who would make him a softly constructed jacket that would be as much about comfort as it would be about elegance.
Since the Duke set much of the early- to mid-20th century mens’ fashion trends, his implicit endorsement led to a boom in the cut’s popularity, which reached all the way across the Atlantic. Many Hollywood stars became enamored with the look, and since Per Anderson trained under Scholte, they naturally went to Anderson & Sheppard.
While Per Anderson built the house’s silhouette, his partner, Sidney Horatio Sheppard (better known as SHS), set its tone. In his introduction to the book, David Kamp uses a line from American satirist and Anglophile SJ Peterman. Peterman said of the British: “The expression ‘It’s not done’ pretty well sums up not only the state of mind of the more solvent class, but the attitude of people in shops and businesses.” SHS was apparently an “it’s not done” kind of fellow. He was a schoolmaster’s son, well educated, socially connected, and somewhat of a country squire. He was said to be very autocratic, not one to mix with the tailoring fraternity, and worked hard to build the firm’s reputation, but without making it seemed like the firm sought attention to itself. In fact, this was done to such an extent that the firm seemed almost secretive. While other tailors such as Henry Poole and Kilgour joined associations and guilds, Anderson & Sheppard never joined anything at all. Save for a single advertisement published once in an outdoorsman magazine, the firm also never advertised. SHS eschewed publicity of any sort and thought it was vulgar.
SHS’s reticence and strict sense of propriety filtered down to the staff, and this transmuted into a kind of hardedge severity. Women weren’t allowed into the fitting areas, unless they promised to keep quiet. Cutters were known to storm out of rooms if wives offered a suggestion or critiqued a husband’s suit-in-progress. They also refused to deviate from the house’s famous English-drape style. One cutter, Mr. Hallbury, would respond to such requests by saying, “Are you asking me to make a Rolls-Royce with the front of a Mercedes, sir?” A fierier cutter, Mr. Cameron, would simply show customers the door, saying, “You’re in the wrong shop!”
In 2004, Anda Rowland became Anderson & Sheppard’s vice chairman, and now manages it along with John Hitchcock. She has overseen somewhat of a glasnost there. The famously secretive house, once closed to writers and journalists, is now opening up. There is a website, a blog, and cutters and tailors who don’t mind your paying them a visit in the back rooms. The tailors are much friendlier, and no one is ever thrown out anymore (though they still won’t deviate from their cut). This book, then, is part of that evolution. The handsome photographs give a glimpse into inner workings and everyday details of life at Anderson & Sheppard, from the sturdily woven fabrics to the tailors’ and cutters’ workrooms. There are also sublime archival images of legendary clients of yore, not least of which includes Fred Astaire, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Gary Cooper, and Laurence Oliver. Nearly all of these men are photographed in their natural settings, and the elegance they portray is quite inspiring.
The volume is available for purchase on Amazon’s UK site, and I think it makes for a great addition to any library. It is part fashion history and part social history, and gives a near tactile immersion in one of the best tailoring shops in the world. I strongly recommend getting a copy.