Taj Phull, Head of Retail – Huntsman
“Restrictions and lockdown have, of course, meant reduced footfall on Savile Row and No.11 over the past year. However, Huntsman has used this time to evaluate elements of the business. In 2020 we introduced an umbrella of initiatives to bring the bespoke experience into the home, entitled Huntsman at Home https://www.huntsmansavilerow.com/huntsman-at-home/, powered by the latest technology from Hero, Toshi, Made To Order and The Bespoke Teleported Service.
The Teleporting Bespoke Service transports the Huntsman Cutters into the home or office, and the client to the cutting rooms in New York or London. Mr. Hammick – named after Colin Hammick, Huntsman’s famed Head Cutter of the 1970s – is Huntsman’s first telepresence robot. This blend of technology has enabled us to work alongside our international clients through travel restrictions.
Customers emerging out of lockdown are looking for something with a softer cloth and construction, and so we’ve launched the Weekend Cut: a welcome addition to any off-duty or smart-casual wardrobe. Further to this, in line with an emerging focus on the shirt as a result of lockdown and Zoom calls, Huntsman has relaunched their bespoke shirt offering working on the premises with the globally renowned maker Sean O’Flynn.
We have a full diary of appointments, and are lucky to be able to take fittings across two floors and three separate fitting rooms, ensuring a safe and comfortable environment. Savile Row is a historic street and cultural hub for those who work in and visit it. We are fortunate to be part of such a strong community.”
Simon Cundey, Managing Director, Henry Poole
“I remain optimistic when it comes to our re-opening – I’ve enjoyed seeing our clients and renewing their summer wardrobes, plus having a number new clients ordering for weddings. Going into lockdown we celebrated 50 years of Range Rover with a limited edition jacketing; during lockdowns, over the last year, we’ve collaborated with Gore-Tex on a Travel Trench launched this month – this embracing of performance technology fabrics adds a new dynamic to Henry Poole.
One has to keep up with client demand when it comes to all aspects of clients’ lifestyles. The next stage is to travel: to go and see all our overseas clientele, who also play major role, given that we’re a 70 per cent export business.”
Daisy Knatchbull, Founder, The Deck
“The atmosphere in-store and on The Row is buzzing again and Mayfair seems to have its charm back. I feel very hopeful about the future of retail and its bounce back. We currently have back-to-back appointments in the diary until May.
Our suits cater for every life event – picking kids up from school in, lunch, wedding, board meeting, black tie event, Sunday stroll – and buying less and buying better seems to be a much stronger theme post lockdown. Our clients truly want to invest in themselves now they’ve had the time to consolidate their wardrobes and understand what they really wear and don’t. Our clients want something that will take them from day to night and last them a lifetime.
I think the pandemic has certainly seen a huge shift in luxury towards hyper-personalised products but also a change in attitude – rather than investing £2,000 on a dress for one event our clients want to use that money to design something entirely made for them and their tastes and choices. There’s certainly a feeling of wanting to spoil oneself after such a miserable last year but in a more considered and conscious way that ensures longevity, durability and versatility with as little harm to the planet as possible.
It seems hard to find a woman who wishes to stay in tracksuits and pyjamas for the rest of their lives! It’s been fantastic watching our clients arrive in store over this last week, dolled up to the nines and feeling fabulous about being ‘let out’.”
William Skinner, Managing Director, Dege & Skinner
“Initially, the shock to our bespoke business was minimised by the very strong order books generated by our January 2020 trunk shows, particularly in the US – these account for around 60 per cent of our bespoke tailoring and shirt-making business.
Then the global pandemic really started to impact. Number 10 Savile Row had to shut, as did our workshop located underneath the shop; some of the team were put on furlough and everyone was forced to work from home. Our customers were, likewise, in an unfamiliar and unprecedented position of uncertainty.
Plus, as we got used to a new way of working, bespoke orders – particularly for new customers who we hadn’t been able to measure in person yet – were proving more difficult to take remotely, even with the use of video conference technology. Customers and cutters took a while to settle into the new way of tailoring, forced upon us by the pandemic. And of course, we’d had to postpone another four rounds of national and overseas trunk shows.
But that was last year! Now, we’re looking forward with optimism and renewed vigour, which is also being reflected by our customers. We’re tentatively planning a trunk show around the UK and in Scotland later this month, which will be another positive step forward on our return to being fully operational.
Since the pandemic hit we’ve invested significantly in our online offering, including a new line of ready-to-wear linen ‘camp collar’ shirts inspired by Sean Connery’s James Bond, and have just launched a new website, as well as refurbishing the shop at 10 Savile Row.
We’ve even picked up a number of new customers and seen a noticeable increase in demand from Germany. We’ll be doing trunk shows there now as a result. The new customers have told us that they were able to spend time during their own lockdowns researching bespoke tailors, ready for when they were able to once again get suited and booted and get back out working and socialising. And now it’s time to get those orders processed.
There’s a sense now that our customers are waking up and clamouring for appointments. There’s such a pent up desire to get back into work and be able to enjoy leisure time, to attend those previously postponed social events and weddings, and that’s driving a significant surge in demand. We’ve also noticed an increase in spend, as well as requests for more unusual, more flamboyant styles, often with a military influence. Over the last year or so, customers seem to have had more time to consider their wardrobes, look into styles and cloth options and that’s resulted in some very interesting pieces to cut and make.
These include hussar-style jackets, and special military commissions for weddings that require the expert skills of our military team – whose intricate work was seen by millions of people all over the world when Prince Harry married Meghan Markle wearing one of our bespoke uniforms. I think it’s fair to say that the global TV exposure afforded us by such an important royal occasion was undoubtedly helpful as we entered a long period of being unable to travel to see customers.”
Michael Hill, Creative Director, Drake’s
“The future of Savile Row always seems to be in question in one way or another. Even before the pandemic people would often discuss “the death of the suit”, and whether a street known first and foremost for its tailoring could survive in this more casual era.
It’s certainly been an incredibly tough year, one that no-one could have anticipated. But we’re still here to tell the tale, and when I stand outside the shopfront and look down the street in the mornings I see a lot of life and a lot of energy.
I think what the whole covid crisis has illuminated is that it’s very easy to take for granted the businesses and establishments we love, and that it’s up to us all to support them – be it a clothes shop, or a pub, or a restaurant. It’s been so encouraging to see how many of our customers were itching to stop by our Savile Row spot, to browse, shop and chat. I think, so long as there are people who take joy from those things – and there seems to be no shortage – then Savile Row has nothing to worry about.”
Simon Jones, Gaziano & Girling
“During the challenging last 12 months, Gaziano & Girling, like many other retailers, have had to adapt. We’ve championed our online offering and customers are able to buy our ready-to-wear and made-to-order shoes via our online store, which has kept us going while Savile Row has been closed. During the lockdowns we kept in contact with our clients and are now happy to see them coming back into the store. We’re looking forward to welcoming our overseas clients when restrictions permit travel again.
Our clients have had time to reflect on their wardrobes, and possibly review their daily attire, due to working from home and having less face-to-face meetings. We’ve been able to accommodate their love for dressing well in a way that is less ‘business’ minded, looking at more casual options and versatile models to go with a more relaxed, yet still smart, look.
Since reopening, we’ve seen plenty of customers who are ready to spend their money again – and we’re also seeing new clients who have managed to save money and are ready to take a step up into our level of footwear. Clients are tending to spend more on quality items with one eye on longevity, and also want to champion British craftsmanship.”
James Sleater, Founder, Cad & The Dandy
“As well as being a challenging time for the Row, it’s also been a time of great excitement. Commercially, the street has managed to attract and encourage new tenants, despite lock down, which lends a renewed energy.
Responding to an overall change in consumer tastes has also been key. With work-wear becoming more flexible, tailoring has evolved to offer an expanded range of less structured garments with a more relaxed feel. This has given us, and other houses on The Row, the opportunity to make a wider variety of clothing for a broader customer base. The result is an increased product range: it also means we’re no longer quite so reliant on the traditional pinstripe suit customer.
Having also created our first ready-to-wear clothing line during this time, we can also now offer a Savile Row product to global customers who don’t physically have to come to the street.”