The tailors I have known: Part 1, London
12 December 2012
Following a recent request from a reader, here is a breakdown of all the English tailors I have tried. I include a description of the style and then one of my experiences. All the links are to pictures or more details elsewhere on the blog. If you have any questions or want me to compare particular tailors, perhaps on a specific aspect of their work, please comment below the post.
I’ll do a post on Italy, France and Hong Kong on Friday.
Anderson & Sheppard
The biggest exponent of the ‘drape cut’, with soft shoulders and fullness of cloth in the chest and back. Together with a closely cut waist, it gives the illusion of a bigger chest and is very comfortable. Some think that the soft shoulders are unflattering.
It is among the cheaper houses on the Row, and I particularly like the double-breasted style as it has a relatively broad lapel with plenty of belly. Most of my suits are from A&S, cut by John Hitchcock.
The opposite of Anderson & Sheppard in style, with strong, padded shoulders and a closely cut chest. Relatively slim through the waist and with little skirt, it is known for a one-button fastening. Most other English tailors cut this traditional style, with slight variations.
I liked the hunting suit I had made by David Ward. We had some problems with the bi-swing back, as the vents stayed open and elastic was added inside to fix that.
The other one of the big three names on the Row, it is more flexible in house style than either A&S or Huntsman. The basic cut is strong and English, however, with slightly less padding and structure in the shoulder and chest than Huntsman.
I had a double-breasted Prince of Wales suit made, which has been quietly superb. It gets more compliments that almost anything else, yet it is conservative in everything by the cloth. Cut by Craig Featherstone.
Richard used to be the head cutter at Huntsman and his cut is similar, though with less padding in the shoulder. One difference is perhaps a more adventurous style; he has recently been making some for customers in wool jersey, for example.
Richard made me a tuxedo, single breasted with a shawl-collared waistcoat. It was slim and perfectly fitting, though my favourite part was the superb trousers.
Son of A&S head cutter John Hitchcock, Steven was trained there and his style is very similar. As he works in shared premises on the Row, he is of course cheaper.
Steven made me a tweed jacket and moleskin trousers. If anything I found his style to be softer and drapier than his father.
John Kent and Terry Haste
John and Terry work with Stephen Lachter (shirt cutter) on Sackville Street. Terry was head cutter at Huntsman and his style is very similar; John tends to cut a slightly smaller back and slimmer leg – sharper, in that way.
John made my pattern and I have two suits from it, the second cut and fitted by Terry – hence the difference in styles noted above. The make was superb and I would say they are the best value on the Row.
Gieves & Hawkes
Gieves style is, like Poole and others, a traditional English military cut. They are often ignored in discussions of Row tailors but have a large tailoring department and a strong foreign and military client list.
My travel blazer and trousers were cut by Kathryn Sargent, who has now set up on her own and shares premises on Sackville Street. They were both very well done. Davide Taub, of whose style I am a big fan, is now cutting at Gieves instead.
Tim is a wonderful stylist and designer. His cutter in the Elder Street bespoke operation in east London is Lloyd Forester. Lloyd’s style is traditionally English though with less structure; Tim adds a dash of innovation to the mix during the commissioning and fittings.
The suit and velvet jacket I had made were both well done. The strength is in Tim’s consultation, and the rack of unusual things that are guaranteed to be hanging around.
A traditional English cut but with willingness to experiment. Currently making some of the best non-Italian soft jackets I’ve seen in terms of cut.
Although not the same standard of make as Savile Row, Graham Browne is by far the best value tailoring in London. I have had many things made over the years, I have all my alterations done there, and my first bespoke suit in London, which was made by them, is still one of my favourites.
Choppin & Lodge is the travelling side of Graham Browne.
A much more contemporary cut than anyone else on this list – a short jacket, narrow sleeve and fitted waist. Famous for their horseshoe waistcoats.
Thom Whiddett and Luke Sweeney are great stylists, with Thom the cutter. Their strength is style, youth and innovation. Checked jacket and cord trousers here.
Run by Toby Luper, who is based in Leeds but visits clients in London, and has the suits made at Cheshire Bespoke. The style is English but with a particularly large and extended shoulder.
Toby is not a cutter, and normally I would avoid being fitted by anyone who is not a cutter. But the trousers Toby cut me are probably the best fitting I have.