The Finer Things
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Anderson & Sheppard, Savile Row Tailors
Anderson & Sheppard moved from Savile Row to the comfortable surroundings of their current premises at 32 Old Burlington Street, less than 100 yards away from “The Row.” Angus Davies Davies visits the famous Savile Row Tailors patronised by many famous clients.
The term “Dress Soft” was used by the Duke of Windsor to describe his clothes which proffered free movement. He was often credited with the growth in popularity of the lounge suit.
It was Frederick Scholte, in the early twentieth century, who eschewed the stiff constraints of military wear, morning and evening coats, which were de rigueur at the time. Mr Scholte attracted the custom of the Prince of Wales, later to become the Duke of Windsor, back in 1919.
Frederick Scholte is attributed with conceiving the English drape. He trained Per Anderson and Sidney Horatio Sheppard who made the less constructed, more comfortable English drape their own.
Anderson & Sheppard moved from Savile Row to the comfortable surroundings of their current premises at 32 Old Burlington Street, less than 100 yards away from “The Row.” Mr John Hitchcock, the current Managing Director, actively participates in the Savile Row Bespoke Association to which the company is a charter member.
The house style is the soft shoulder, following the contour of the torso, absent of the faux bulk typical of military attire. The line of the jacket follows the natural silhouette having both front and back drape. The high armhole aids movement and comfort.
The double-breasted jacket is often favoured by clients. The trousers break about an inch above the shoe and invariably feature a cuff, or turn-up, synonymous with the 1920’s - 1930’s style still favoured by the sartorially astute of today.
The Duke of Windsor was of slight stature, standing only 5’ 5 ‘’ tall, with a svelte waist which only varied between 29 inches and 31 inches over a sixty year period. He was arguably the most stylish gentleman of his generation. His clothes, including highly patterned cloths, always worked in pleasing concert, often making the Duke appear taller than his diminutive measurements would suggest.
As you enter the premises of Anderson & Sheppard you cannot fail to notice the leather clad ledgers adorning the wooden book cases which feature on some of the walled surfaces.
The ledgers contain names of many illustrious names of the past. Gary Cooper, famed for his appearance in the film, “High Noon”, was a patron of Anderson & Sheppard. At least 27 of his measurements are recorded in the ledgers along with his signature.
Fred Astaire adored the loose, comfortable fit of the house style. He would be known to “road test” his suits, having the staff lift the carpet in the fitting room where he would try a few dance steps on the hardwood floor to confirm his famed moves would not be inhibited by his newly acquired attire.
The front of premises provides solitude from the hustle and bustle of London’s charged pace. As you luxuriate on a leather Chesterfield sofa, you are greeted with genial sales staff, who can expertly advise with lore borne of years of experience.
A vast choice of materials are available from Fox’s, Holland & Sherry, J&J Minnis et al. Dialogue with the client, ascertains their needs for preferred weight and character.
The gravitas of having a suit made for you is assured by the informed assistance offered.
In the cutting room to the rear of the shop, time-served artisans wield shears and chalk with great skill. Behind them hanging from rails are the brown paper patterns of the cherished clients who appreciate the handsome lines of a well-cut suit.
Anderson & Sheppard train its own staff. They capture the young, malleable minds before they are corrupted with the ways of others. Mr. Malone, the Head Trouser Cutter, joined the company in 1979 and has worked at his bench ever since. Whilst touring the premises I saw a variety of age groups employed. Continuity for future generations is assured.
A&S employ separate coat cutters and trouser cutters. The specialisation brings sublime results which coalesce in harmony despite the input of several craftsmen and craftswomen behind the scenes.
In the basement of the premises, tailors sew the pieces of material together with dextrous hands and deft skill.
It takes a minimum of 50 hours to create a suit. Garments are pressed, showcasing the tailored jewels which will retain their brilliance for many years to come.
An Anderson & Sheppard suit is considered a “new suit” after 10 years of ownership according to Mr. Hitchcock. In some cases, rolls of stock cloths, held in the basement, can be used for facilitating invisible repairs to a cherished suit.
The Duke of Windsor was said to purchase clothes of the finest quality and expected them to last a lifetime. In many cases his clothes did last a lifetime and are much sought after in Auction Houses to this day.
The longevity of an Anderson & Sheppard suit is supported by the practice of passing suits from one generation to the next with subtle adjustments made when required.
Overseas buyers are catered for. The finely finished attire, exemplifying peerless perfection is dispatched by the watchful eye of Michael Gardner, Head of Dispatch, to appreciative clients around the globe.
Anderson & Sheppard have not tried to replicate their unique methods with numerous branches, licensing of their brand name to overseas businesses or selling their souls for short term monetary gain. They are bespoke tailors of the highest order, firmly domiciled in England.
Today, the famous names of fashion choose Anderson & Sheppard for their own clothes. Ralph Lauren, Tom Ford, Manolo Blahnik and Calvin Klein appreciate the timeless style of this atelier. Discretion prevents me from divulging further names of those clients who prefer anonymity, needless to say the cognoscenti from the world of style, appreciate the work undertaken at Old Burlington Street.
When I commenced my journey, discovering the wonder of Anderson & Sheppard, I gathered various documents. The competence of this company was summed up by quoting Tom Ford, “Anderson & Sheppard is the best tailor in the world”. I find little reason to argue with Mr. Ford’s sentiments.