A CUT ABOVE THE REST

Sav­ile Row tai­lor Richard An­der­son on his new book and the well-dressed man

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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

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