WWD Digital Daily
Catching Up With Richard Anderson
The Savile Row tailor has seen success with his ready-to-wear collection as well as the addition of his daughter Molly to the business.
Richard Anderson is a frequent flier. The Savile Row tailor makes the trip across the pond three times a year to visit clients in North America, making stops in Boston, Washington, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Toronto as well as Palm Beach, Florida, in the winter.
In recent years, the Savile Row tailor has been accompanied by his daughter Molly, who has followed in her father's footsteps and now serves as an integral part of the company.
Molly Anderson joined the business in 2019, designs for the men's and women's bespoke lines and represents the brand at trunk shows across the U.S. and Japan.
She had an esteemed teacher. Richard Anderson has been on Savile Row for more than 40 years, getting his start as a 17-year-old apprentice at Huntsman under Colin Hammick, considered one of the industry's greatest cutters. In 1999, he and Brian Lishak opted to exit Huntsman and start their own tailoring business under the Richard Anderson name, opening a shop on Savile Row in 2001 — the first new bespoke house to open on the famed street in 50 years.
“It's a world that not a lot of people have access to,” Molly Anderson said of her career choice. “It's really quite niche with an interesting sort of characters. I grew up with it and watched how my dad interacted with people and just fell in love with it.”
But to be a success on Savile Row, she had to develop the skills needed to create bespoke garments that cost 5,500 pounds to 6,500 pounds and up. “There's no choice but to be quite good,” she said.
Over the years Anderson has carved out a niche among the other Savile Row tailors with his distinctive silhouette and less intimidating approach to bespoke tailoring.
“We have a very distinctive house cut, which is a cross between a kind of dinner jacket and a riding coat,” he said. “Normally we cut with one button and the armholes are kept quite high. And that's for two reasons: one for ease of movement, but also to get a nice long line through the side seam, and the pockets may be slightly higher than is the norm. So it makes anyone look a little bit taller and slimmer than they are. We also use more contemporary fabrics.”
In recent years Anderson has expanded beyond his roots in bespoke and madeto-measure into ready-to-wear and that represents the biggest growth opportunity for the business. Although opening price for the company, the rtw is still full canvas construction and represents a good entry point into the brand.
“Fathers will bring their sons and start them off with ready-to-wear and then they'll progress up to made-to-measure, and then hopefully to bespoke,” he said. Rtw prices average 1,600 pounds to 1,700 pounds with made-to-measure selling for 3,500 pounds to 4,000 pounds.
The assortment here is designed to meet the demands of a younger guy who wants his suits and sport coats to be able to multitask. “Sometimes they'll wear them with a shirt and tie, sometimes with a T-shirt and sneakers, so we're selling more cotton velvets, cotton and linen and moleskin,” he said.
In fact, the rtw has become so popular that Anderson recently opened a dedicated space for the collection at his shop on
Savile Row that carries the tailored clothing along with knitwear, hosiery and other accessories. It is currently appointmentonly but will open to walk-ins this summer.
Overall, Richard Anderson attracts a broad range of customers, from pop stars and football players to chief executive officers, the core of whom are 50 years old or above. Since the pandemic he has seen an increased demand as his customers refreshed their wardrobes and started attending events again.
The company has also been increasing its reach with women and counts some 50 repeat customers for the bespoke collection. “We've been pushing it more and more,” he said.
It doesn't hurt that Molly Anderson wears the clothes as well.
Although still a bit of an enigma, Molly Anderson isn't the only female tailor on Savile Row. “There are some amazing women on the street but they're not in the limelight,” she said.
They both acknowledged that finding staff is an ongoing challenge. “It's harder to get good people,” Richard Anderson said, adding that in a lot of cases, someone will join the company, learn the ropes and move on.
But in recent years he has seen more young people willing to learn the craft and join the trade on both the making and the cutting side. Cutters need to have a mechanical brain as well as an artistic bent, he said, while the tailors have to be adept at using their hands to build a garment from scratch.
“On both sides, you're creating something from nothing,” he said. “But once you see what you've done, it's very fulfilling. And it's a skill for life.”