Savile Row is a street in Mayfair, central London. Known principally for its traditional bespoke tailoring for men, the street has had a varied history that has included accommodating the headquarters of the Royal Geographical Society at 1 Savile Row, where significant British explorations to Africa and the South Pole were planned; and more recently, the Apple office of the Beatles at 3 Savile Row, where the band’s impromptu final live performance was held on the roof of the building.
Tailors started doing business in the area in the late 18th century; first in Cork Street, about 1790, then by 1803 in Savile Row itself. In 1846, Henry Poole, later credited as the creator of the dinner jacket, opened an entrance to Savile Row from his tailoring premises in Old Burlington Street. Founded in 1849 by Henry Huntsman, H. Huntsman & Sons moved to No. 11 Savile Row with the ending of the war in 1919. During the First World War, Huntsman’s was a tailor to the military, producing dress uniforms for British officers throughout the conflict (like Hugo Boss in Germany who was the tailor, producing military dress uniforms for German officers of Third Reich). In 1969, Nutters of Savile Row modernised the style and approach of traditional Savile Row tailoring; a modernisation that continued in the 1990s with the “New Bespoke Movement”, involving the designers Richard James, Ozwald Boateng, and Timothy Everest.
The term “bespoke” is understood to have originated in Savile Row when cloth for a suit was said to “be spoken for” by individual customers. The short street has been termed the “golden mile of tailoring”, where customers have included Charles, Prince of Wales, Winston Churchill, Lord Nelson, Napoleon III, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Laurence Olivier, Duke Ellington, and Jude Law.
In 1969, Nutters of Savile Row modernised the style and approach of traditional Savile Row Tailoring; a modernisation that continued in the 1990s with the “New Bespoke Movement”, involving the designers Richard James, Ozwald Boateng, and Timothy Everest. The term “bespoke” as applied to fine tailoring is understood to have originated in Savile Row, and came to mean a suit cut and made by hand.
The website GQ British featured an article in January 2018 about Savile Row. It contains a list of SR tailors and states: “London is undeniably menswear’s global capital and the most important street in this world is Savile Row, a modest Mayfair row of the men’s tailors that quite simply make the best suits in the world.”