New challenges and alternatives for Savile Row

James Sleater, co-founder and director of London menswear Cad & The Dandy, discusses why Savile Row was pressured to modernise in the course of the pandemic and what the long run holds for the suiting trade.

Strolling down Savile Row in early 2019, it could have been straightforward to be nervous about the way forward for the road. This globally recognised avenue, well-known for bespoke tailoring, appeared to have virtually as many empty outlets as people who have been occupied.

Covid got here and the tailoring trade, like an important many others, confronted its greatest problem to this point. The lockdown, the make money working from home edicts and the rise of the sweat pants, appeared to be an additional dying knell for this nice bastion of formal menswear.

Tailoring very a lot depends on an up shut and private contact; all Covid guidelines appeared to be in opposition to us and the trade that for the reason that late 18th century has constructed the status of being the most effective on the planet.

Within the early Covid days, the preliminary lack of PPE required by the nation meant that we might a minimum of maintain our machines and palms busy. Huntsman, one other tailor on Savile Row and ourselves led a cost to marshall volunteers from our workforces to assist make scrubs. Our corporations shared not solely our sources: in the future we might minimize and the opposite sew and the opposite ship. There was a rising resolve that we as a avenue and trade shouldn’t merely simply wait to be allowed to reopen our doorways to the general public. With the continued concern of the virus, the make money working from home guidelines and the strict occasion guidelines, meant that in all probability, it could not be enterprise as traditional.

One factor all of us had in lockdown was time. I spent the vast majority of it trying on the financial institution stability dwindle however sure that we might use this era to double down on our place and transfer the enterprise ahead. Once we initially got here up with the idea for digital fittings in April 2020, we began by emailing our present buyer base; individuals for whom we already had patterns. which rapidly grew to become a beautiful technique to join with our clients and maintain enterprise going.


This has now develop into a daily operate for brand new and previous clients, including one other string to our bow. Our friends, initially sceptical of it, quickly additionally started providing the companies. The identical after we turned our palms to creating masks in the course of the first UK lockdown in March 2020. And though this meant the pennies rolled in, it wasn’t the kilos wanted to run a enterprise.

At Cad & The Dandy now we have a worldwide workforce of just below 200 individuals. What was our greatest obligation in salaries, quickly grew to become our greatest asset. We had palms and talent aplenty. Reasonably than ship everybody house and make the talent redundant, we fervently started making able to put on clothes by hand utilizing the very same ideas and guidelines we apply to our bespoke garments.

The fabric mills, determined for orders, have been solely too comfortable to assist in providing fabric to us at a diminished worth to allow in flip their wheels to maintain in movement. We started to stockpile tons of of things, from formal dinner fits to extra informal polo shirting and safari jackets, which enabled us to make the leap right into a full ready-to-wear assortment.

Our major bespoke store at 13 Savile Row merely wasn’t large enough to ever supply a able to put on division. In 2021 the road had limitless choices for us to tackle one other premise so working with the house owners of the road, The Pollen Property, we opened 7- 8 in October 2021 which might be the most important frontage on the road, as our designated able to put on store.

And though we might be simply one in every of maybe two or three outlets globally that provided totally handmade clothes, we couldn’t merely depend on it promoting. Savile Row, like each purchasing avenue, was nonetheless not allowed to open its doorways, solely our avenue nonetheless had too many empty outlets.


Prepared-to-wear and to some extent tailoring, depends on footfall and through my conversations with the owner I requested if I might tackle one other store on the road and open a espresso store to assist footfall. The Service, as now we have referred to as it, opened its doorways in between lockdowns and the very first thing we did was to exhibit garments from every of the homes on the road in order ‘the courageous’ public got here again they may sip their cappuccinos amongst the most effective garments on the planet and resolve which tailor was for them.

The espresso store, the primary on Savile Row, has develop into a gathering level for menswear, be it particular person clients, journalists, stylists for movie or just us simply needing our fast caffeine increase.

In a world of immediate fulfilment Savile Row must remind individuals of why they need to watch for the best merchandise. The world of excessive avenue retail has satisfied us that faster is best than craft. Trend is for everybody and nobody, whereas bespoke type is handmade for the person. Our purpose is to form our enterprise to our clients’ wants and on the similar time keep the requirements that Savile Row prides itself on.

Our staff has by no means been busier, our gross sales are up 46% thisyear throughout the board from formal garments, to workplace fits and informal jackets. One Hollywood manufacturing merely purchased each blue swimsuit we had in inventory, while we learn numerous destructive headlines of M&S dropping the swimsuit from a lot of its outlets and groaning that that is the tip of the swimsuit and Savile Row. I merely couldn’t agree.

These companies which have developed from Covid, not simply tailoring, have invariably ridden the wave and are available out stronger, extra capable of adapt and ready for the long run. Savile Row at the moment doesn’t have a store area obtainable to lease on a long-term lease, gone are the empty store fronts and unlit interiors and I imagine we’re actually ushering in a brand new period for the road the place as soon as once more we will convey renewed international consciousness of an trade we must always all be happy with.