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  • Carol Alayne

Several Saviles

During the summer my thoughts were solicited by THINK, a style magazine based in Dubai. It was running an article on the latest in bespoke tailoring and how a personal ‘image’ is so important even in the highly regimented worlds of international business and finance. It was especially encouraging for me that the magazine’s correspondent, Ashlee Beard, chose to mention the female angle to high quality tailoring, especially in the context of personal branding. I’ve already explored this subject in ‘Strike up the Brand’ and my THINK thoughts reflected that.

During my conversation with Ashlee, we ranged over the topic of personal branding of course, but also the nature of exclusive tailoring itself as a brand. Apart from its physical presence in the heart of London, Savile Row is probably one of the world’s best known ‘concept’ brands – certainly as far as tailoring is concerned. A Savile Row tailored garment immediately conjures up certain expectations about the look and status of the person wearing it.

Yet below the surface, the Savile Row brand concept is becoming rather complex. It all began with the word ‘bespoke’. Just how bespoke is ‘bespoke’? You can read my view on the soon to appear TfW Guide to creating a high quality wardrobe (watch this space…).

At one extreme it’s possible to source and make everything by hand, from scratch. You can experience from William Westmancott the ultimate bespoke suit for around £45,000 for which the fibres for the cloth will be specially selected and woven into an exclusive material, together with a uniquely designed and woven lining. Or you can you can achieve a bespoke look where the garment is fashioned to your personal measurements but the materials are chosen from an existing range of high quality fabrics and the tailoring is not necessarily done by hand.

Savile Row is having to mean different things to several different client groups – the traditional ‘old money’ clients of course, and the hunting fraternity, but also the nouveau riche, especially from Eastern Europe, the Middle and Far East, all with their own specific approaches to dressing. Then there are celebs and the media, the pink pound… Habitués get to know which side of Savile Row to visit – there’s an emerging north-south divide in fact!

I see the TfW brand as on a sort of slip road from Savile Row. The quality associations are important of course, but in reality the collection of establishments which consider themselves part of the Savile Row brand (and they don’t all have premises there) are reluctant to entertain an order from a woman. They just expect trouble, and the prices often go through the roof. Clients and friends of TfW will know of course that we are ready and willing to work from a female point of view. So it would be interesting to hear from readers of this blog just how they see the TfW brand. Your feedback is important!

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