The back story of the illustrious outfitters found at 19 Savile Row is a compelling one. Having made his fortune opening a chain of eponymous outfitters across The Pond, the company’s entrepreneurial founder, Simon Ackerman, returned to England in 1935 and set up a clothing factory in Crewe due to its equidistance between Huddersfield’s mills and the port of Liverpool, then a major commercial gateway to America. The ‘Chester’ part of the name comes from the close-by Roman border city, while ‘Barrie’ came from the Peter Pan author JM Barrie: Ackerman believed that the inherently English sounding amalgam would sound pleasingly English to his American customers-in-waiting.
It was Ackerman’s son Myron who turned Chester Barrie into a global success story – by the 60s, so many of its suits were being sold in the prestigious milieu of Savile Row- including the ones worn by Sean Connery in Dr No and Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair – that more than 1,000 staff were required to manufacture them up in Crewe. Now, the next chapter in the establishment’s narrative is under way, with the refurbishment of No 19 designed to make the brand more relevant to the modern tailoring customer.
An extra 80-square-feet of selling space, an extra changing room and a zone dedicated to occasion-wear have been created by a refit designed by Simon Kirby, Chester Barrie’s creative director. Fixed units have been edged out by freestanding display stands with pewter frames and either solid oak or marble bases. Exposed floorboards and plenty of details in glass, velvet and alcantara complete the aesthetic.
“Our aim is to ensure both the store and the collection reflect the brand’s DNA: 1930s glamour with a contemporary character,” explains Kirby. “I’ve designed the shop to combine traditional hand-crafted materials with a contemporary touch. It’s a narrow store so we have added an awning to the front and opened up the inside to make it feel bigger. The far end of store is separated by darker blue walls and carpeting with velvet chairs which draws the eye and creates a more luxurious environment for our occasion-wear.”
The new Chester Barrie God label collection, characterised by deep and rich colours, tactile cloths from Fox Brothers and Loro Piana and softened shoulders, takes pride of place in the new-look boutique, along with a new capsule Made-in-England line.
19 Savile Row, Mayfair, London W1S 3PP (020 7439 6079/chesterbarrie.co.uk)