SAVILE ROW DRESSES TO THE LEFT
More men dress to the left than the right, say the top Savile Row tailors. This esoteric term for on which side of their trousers customers prefer to accomodate their member is but one of the personal preferences covered in this survey around the Row. Women have little influence, it seems, in their partners' tailoring matters; obesity does not appear to be a growing problem for customers - yet; and the conservative dark business suit remains top choice.
Dress to the Left or Right? The consensus is that the left is the more usual position for a man's equipment. This is taken into consideration in the make of the trousers, giving a little more width in the top of the left trouser leg. But there is some dispute about how this preference comes about: Some say those who are right handed hang to the left, if left handed then probably to the right; others that the member will point towards the side that the heart is on - normally the left; that the left is practical because the fly can then provide 'discreet' camouflage; and there is another school that favours straight up.
Sizes getting Bigger? Asked if men are getting bigger, in reference to their overall size, not any one aspect, the answer was a surprising no - by a slim majority. But in relation to dress, as above, one wag stated that "it depends upon how pleased he is to see you". Another noted that hefty-sized customers would find it difficult to buy clothes to fit them off-the-peg, so need a tailor to get a good fit; and another points out that waists and seats are increasing.
Feminine Influence? Time was when women were positively discouraged from accompanying their man to his tailor, and indeed some were asked to leave the premises. In these more enlightened times, do men take their wives or girlfriends along to advise? A minority, say the tailors, and then not so much to advise as simply for company, as part of a visit to town.
Suiting Colour Choice? Plain dark not surprisingly topped the list but with dark pick and pick also popular, grey and navy the shades.
Top Cloths for Summer? Light wool remains the favourite but with many more men ordering linen, wool/silk mixtures, cotton and fine cashmeres, the cashmeres especially for summer jackets.
Favoured Styling? The single breasted, button-two, with side vents reigns supreme, with the exception of a couple of houses noted for their button-one styling.
Increase in Morning Suits? Some have noticed a marked increase, ordered for attendance at race meetings and summer weddings.
Websites bringing New Customers? Most were very positive about the results of having a website, for some quite a recent innovation. The view is that men can now check online to find a possible tailor and make enquiries before a visit. One said that prompt service on accessory orders had brought tailoring rewards.
Customers Getting Younger? "Well, yes, I'm getting older," was one reply. But generally it was thought that more young men were wishing to have a suit made, and want a better quality than is to be found in the readymade market.
Customer Profile? The US came out as top foreign nation, followed by Japan. Europe has not been so good because of the strength of the pound against the euro but that may be changing now. The majority, home and away, are townies.
How Long from Fitting to Delivery? Very much depends upon the size of the tailoring operation. Individual tailors can deliver in a month, the larger houses may take up to five months, but eight weeks seems a mean average.
Hours Making a Suit? Ranges from 40 to 90. Depends on the style and how much hand work entailed. Take the cost of a fine suit length and overheads off the price, which may range from £2,000 to £3,500 on average, and all of a sudden that Savile Row suit seems a bargain investment!
The suits pictured above deviate from the dark, conservative norm that is the most popular choice by Savile Row customers. At top, distinctive Estate check made up by Richard Anderson. Striped button-one suit in centre from Stephen Hitchcock.
BESPOKE CRITERIA OF NEW ALLIANCE
THE SAVILE ROW ALLIANCE , the new association for Savile Row tailors that we reported in the previous edition, is progressing and agreeing membership rules - as and when all the interested parties are in town from their respective travels.
Its aim is to identify and promote true bespoke tailors, and membership will only be granted to those who meet its criteria.
A statement issued to savilerow-style sets out that the association will be "seeking to recreate the spirit of cooperation that used to prevail and protecting and preserving the manners and methods of the trade". The emphasis will be on "making rather than marketing".
There are plans for group benefits in travel and services, cooperation with cloth merchants and shared information.
Edward Sexton is the first President of SRA and it is planned that at the next meeting membership arrangements will be finalised. Contact Peter Day at Denman & Goddard for further details (www.denman-goddard.co.uk)