In the latest issue of Dandy Magazine published in December, I was delighted (to say the least) to pen a substantial 14-pages article titled “The London Adventure of a Parisian Gentleman”, richly illustrated by my talented friend Andy Barnham (permanent photographer/contributor to the Rake, our favourite print magazine).
As a prelude to that long piece on my visits to 5 London bespoke tailoring salons, I am glad to publish tonight the first paragraphs of the article (the first double-page).
God Save the Queen and British Bespoke tailoring!
(By Hugo Jacomet / Photos by Andy Barnham)
For an amateur of bespoke tailoring, spending 48 hours in London is, and has always been, and will probably always be a special experience. This, even if times have changed, and despite the deep changes influencing London bespoke tailoring salons, brought on by multiple reasons which we will explore in this article. There is no denying that Savile Row, Jermyn Street and, more recently, Spitalfields, have retained their very specific magnetism in regards to masculine elegance and bespoke tailoring.
It had been a while since the last time I had the opportunity to spend several days in London. I knew that taking my - perfectly glazed - Corthays out again on the Golden Mile was long overdue. Contrary to appearances and widespread misconceptions, the British Bespoke community displays an amazing energy and a wonderful ability to reinvent itself, even while discretion remains “de rigueur” as they like to say.
So, of course, any pretence to provide a general perspective on the current events at play in the intimate and closed world of London bespoke salons after just 48 hours spent there is a treacherous claim. All the more so given the revolution at work in the mapping of the bespoke offer. Which, albeit discreetly, is undergoing a deep mutation.
I must thank here my friend James Sherwood (author of “Savile Row, The London Cut” and more recently, of a wonderfully illustrated book on the Royal Ascot), for opening wide the doors of the Row family for me, and with whom we selected a panel of salons as representative as possible of the true London bespoke offer in the Fall of 2011.
To achieve a representative sample, we elected to focus this article on an array of salons including:
- Two centennial traditional houses that remain absolutely essential: Anderson & Sheppard and Huntsman and Sons.
- One house we will define as “intermediate”: Norton & Sons, a name at the roots of the Row but which, thanks to its very charismatic owner Patrick Grant, is a lot more contemporary in its energy and communications.
- A much more recent salon, Thom Sweeney, who, under the helm of two young gents in their thirties, is generating more and more buzz, thanks among others to a decidedly younger clientele with a clearly bolder style (including singer Mika and other celebrities).
- And lastly a perfectly undefinable house : Timothy Everest, who made the bet, a long time ago, to leave the Mayfair sanctuary to set up his wonderful shop in today's most energetic quarter of the English capital: Spitalfields.
After dropping my suitcase in a cosy room of the deliciously charming Duke’s Hotel, nestled a stone’s throw from Jermyn Street, I started my marathon with an impromptu breakfast with one of the bigwigs at Turnbull & Asser, the legendary English shirt-maker, and last house to offer bespoke and RTW shirts entirely made in the UK.
Of course, our wonderfully cordial and interesting discussions revolved around the wish of the venerable Gloucester house to come back to France after the sudden interruption of its partnership with Old England a few years ago. The latter was the only store in France where the excellent T&A products were sold. Even though I can’t get into all the details just yet, I am honoured to announce that Turnbull & Asser is really planning a return to France that should shortly allow the numerous French amateurs of the brand to get acquainted again with their most excellent shirts.
That made for a most auspicious day, with good news that we will reveal in details in the upcoming months. After such a promising beginning, I set sails to Thom Sweeney’s in Mayfair, a few blocks from the Row, at the corner of Gilbert and Weighhouse Streets.
Next chapter on PG tomorrow, with a full report on my visit at this very young and successful Bespoke house...