I had never gone anywhere near Savile Row until a couple of years ago, when I was asked to write about the Mayfair street’s long history of tailoring for an upmarket style magazine. Given that my greatest fashion claim-to-fame is that Manolo Blahnik’s niece once laughed at my trainers, this was a bit out of my comfort zone and I didn’t feel much better when I walked into Henry Poole and the immaculately dressed owner, Simon Cundey, informed me that ‘any good man should own five to seven suits’. I nodded and smiled nervously – I own one suit and it rarely leaves the closet.
Cundey then gave me a tour of the shop, and I was immediately struck by the contrast between the elegant ground floor where customers are measured up for their new clobber and the basement where most of the work gets done. This long subterranean room was filled with tailors of all ages and nationalities, some making waistcoats, others making pockets or trousers. They were sitting at battered wooden benches, cutting cloth delicately with solid scissors the size of scythes. The sound of sewing machines and portable radios were the only sign that we weren’t in the 19th century. It was a thrill to see an old industry being kept alive in such charismatic fashion, and the fact that most of the tailors were as badly dressed as me, didn’t hurt either. I made a mental note that I’d return, which I did earlier this year for a series of interview with the pocket-makers and trouser-tailors of Savile Row, during the course of which I asked my worst ever question as a journalist: ‘What is your favourite kind of pocket?’.
You can read it all here.