A CUT ABOVE THE REST
Savile Row tailor Richard Anderson on his new book and the well-dressed man
When bespoke tailor Richard Anderson opened his shop on London’s famed Savile Row in 2001 with business partner Brian Lishak, a few eyebrows were raised.
While they were not new kids on the block – both had trained and worked under renowned Savile Row tailor Huntsman for 17 and 45 years respectively by then – the marked difference in their space from the rest of ‘The Row’ tailors made them stick out like a neon button on a traditional suit.
The duo, the first to open a new shop in 50 years at the prestigious address known for bespoke menswear, eschewed the somber and serious look for a welcoming white palette with modern artwork interspersed throughout, as well as an open workspace where clients could see and interact with Richard Anderson’s team of cutters and tailors while they’re at work.
Anderson was clear about his mission from the start. “Tailors of ‘The Row’ were missing the opportunity to service gentlemen of a wider demographic for tradition’s sake,” he says. “Huntsman was a very traditional tailoring company where the clientele were aristocrats, CEOs of companies, and predominantly 60 years of age. I decided I wanted to make tailoring less intimidating for gentlemen of my own age and younger.”
Anderson’s unusual and modern take on classic menswear is stylishly captured in his latest book, Making the Cut, where interesting facts as well as the original sketches, patterns and photographs of 25 creatively adapted classic coats fill the pages, including a quirky asymmetric lapelled jacket and an updated version of a morning coat. “It struck me that there are no books by Savile Row cutters or designers in a coffee book style and that
made me want to create one. I wanted to combine the history of the garments with a bit of fun as to who wears them.”
And just like the architect I.M. Pei who breathed new life into the Louvre Museum in Paris with its iconic pyramid, and for whom Anderson designed a raincoat that reflected the pyramid with its narrow top and very wide bottom, this unconventional tailor has given the classic men’s jacket second wind with trendsetting cuts that go viral the moment they hit the public eye, such as George Michael’s aubergine worsted suit and Bryan Ferry’s sequined black jacket for Princess Diana’s memorial concert in 2007.
Needless to say, Anderson knows a well-dressed and fashionable gentleman when he sees one. “This person must be able to carry a certain elegance through the cut with a garment style that enhances the body shape. The ability to accessorise with various items and blend them together with a pleasing effect is also important.”
And of course, a bespoke suit is in order. “The modern fashionable gentleman should have a sports coat, bespoke or made-to-measure suit and a raincoat in his wardrobe as they are suitable for all occasions and will give that smart and sophisticated look,” says Anderson.
Ultimately, a true bespoke tailor’s role is to improve the body, says Anderson. Every suit from his shop, which involves a series of 19 to 22 measures and takes between 80 and 90 man-hours to complete, is designed to extenuate the wearer’s profile through long clean lines. The jacket is cut with a high armhole, and given slim shoulders with minimum padding, a high gorge and long lapel, and a waist cut with a slight flair to disguise the round of the hips.
“The only time we use a sewing machine would be on the straight seams, which are the pockets and the centre bag,” says Anderson. “Depending on the gentleman’s schedule, it takes eight to ten weeks to make a bespoke suit, including three to four fittings.”
It is this hand-sewn element that distinguishes a bespoke suit from a madeto-measure one and makes it a worthy wardrobe investment. “Made-to-measure suits are usually cut by machine from an existing pattern. The pattern is then adjusted according to the client’s measurements and amended accordingly.
“The quality and longevity of the bespoke suit is worth the investment because it is uniquely measured and handcrafted based on the customer’s build and movements. That is why tailoring is considered a craft.”
Façade of the shop on London’s famed Savile Row
Every suit from Anderson’s shop involves a series of 19 to 22 measures and takes between 80 to 90 man-hours to complete