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Budd: Very traditional shirts

3 November 2009

A second piece by Permanent Style from the latest issue of The Rake

Budd: Very traditional shirts

Budd shirtmakers is for men that really like English tradition. Unostentatious almost to the point of modesty, Budd has been quietly making some of the best bespoke shirts in the world since 1910. In those 99 years it has moved just once, across the Piccadilly Arcade from number 4 to number 3, when the former suffered bomb damage in the Second World War. It is the only original member of the Arcade still trading. Everyone else has faded away.

The interior still retains four original pieces of furniture: a floor-to-ceiling mirror, two delicately carved chairs and a four-poster bed, the end of which was chopped off to prop up one end of the shop. You won’t find a single computer on the premises. Budd’s two tailors, John Butcher and Martin Levitt, have been in the business for 46 and 52 years respectively. As director Andrew Rowley says, they’re showing promise.

John (or Martin on a Monday or Tuesday) makes up the client’s paper pattern, cuts the collar with a knife, the body with shears and sends it all down to Hampshire. There they are sewn together by Webster’s, current owner of Budd and a firm that itself goes back to 1847.

The ready-to-wear shirts are made with many of the same detailings as bespoke, with the same cloth and sewn by the same people. Unlike most ready-to-wear shirts today, where the body is closed up and then the sides sewn together, Budd’s ready-to-wear uses the bespoke technique, with the sleeves being put in separately.

Compared to many brands today, though, the body has a rather generous cut. “We don’t do slim-fit shirts because most of our customers wouldn’t get in them,” says Rowley. So don’t ask for slim cuts or an extra large collar – the company’s standard one hasn’t changed for 26 years, after all. Budd doesn’t do fashion.