The “Golden Mile of Tailoring” – Saville Row

March 19, 2012

Saville Row is known as the “Golden Mile of Tailoring.”   When women want to purchase the finest clothing money can buy, they go to Paris. Men with similar proclivities go to Saville Row in London.

Saville Row developed its reputation for offering the finest in gentlemen’s clothing during the mid-nineteenth century. The upper echelons of English society patronized these shops because all the clothing was individually tailored to the customer’s specifications.  Almost all the stores offered only “bespoke clothing.”  This term, which was coined on Saville Row, meant that the cloth for a suit was  “bespoken for.”  This signified that a particular customer had purchased the cloth.  There have never been “off the rack” shops on Saville Row, and only recently have there been “made to measure” shops.

The first thing a client does is pick the cloth for his suit.  Today, there are literally thousands of patterns to choose from. A suit made from the more expensive cloths can cost over fifteen thousand dollars.  After a client has settled on a particular cloth, a trained craftsman takes his measurements.  A gentleman usually has to attend three fitting sessions, and the clothing takes four to twelve weeks to finish.  All suits are hand-made on the shop premises.

Arguably the most famous store on Saville Row is Henry Poole and Company.  This was the first “bespoke tailor” on Saville Row.  They were the creators of the English dinner suit – what we across the pond refer to as a tuxedo.  This uniquely English creation has been in great demand through the years.  HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, HRH The Prince of Wales, Winston Churchill, Michael Jackson, President Harry Truman, Clarke Gable and Cary Grant have all purchased dinner suits on Saville Row.  Of course, shopping on “The Row” is not for the faint of heart or the light of purse.  The price of a bespoke dinner suit starts at well over five thousand dollars!

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