Monday, January 08, 2007

What to report on Savile Row

The publisher of Classic Style magazine asked on AskAndy which Savile Row tailors should be interviewed for an upcoming issue. My post in the thread is captured below in my full response:

I think the interview will be more interesting if you adopt a specific angle or point of view to the piece you're writing.
  • Do an "ask the tailors/cutters" survey piece, which would reveal insider preferences and reputations. Survey independent tailors and key personnel in SR firms and ask them questions like: Not including yourself or your firm, which three firms (or specific cutters, coatmakers, trouser makers, etc) do you admire the most? Which firm or independent would you personally go to make a dinner suit (or morning coat, white tie, three piece suit, etc)? Tally the responses up and reveal the rankings - could be quite interesting!
  • Interview those who are retired or no longer active on SR but are considered "living legends." They would have the perspective and experience to give useful contrasts and opinions about past and present style and tailoring. This might be a retired managing director like Halberry of A&S or could be someone active like Nutter.
  • Do a detailed exposition on a relatively rare garment ensemble like morning dress or full evening dress (white tie). Determine how many skilled cutters still exist to create a tailcoat and interview them about the process. Expose the tidbits, terminology and history (e.g. Antongiovanni mentions in his book that London tailors refer to formal day trousers as "cashmere stripes", which is an interesting bit of trivia). Compare the construction of tailcoat with a business suit jacket.
  • Take a deep look into one or more SR firms and assess the differences between inhouse v. outworkers on the tailoring process. Interview a cutter, coatmaker, waistcoat maker and other key personnel in the tailoring process. How much of a difference is there really between the inhouse and outworker approaches? Who still has a functioning apprentice program, how does it work and what are the advantages?
  • Do a business-oriented piece of the new marketing and economics of SR. Interview the founders of Savile Row Bespoke, get their thoughts on why they decided to form SRB. Interview firms like Kilgour and Davies to understand how they are outsourcing specific components of the tailoring process overseas.
As I mentioned in my thread post, I think these are worthy topics for further examination in an article or book length treatment.

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