LONDON — The milestones have been stacking up at Richard James, the tailor who pumped up the color and pattern on Savile Row 25 years ago: Last year came the big anniversary celebrations and a new investor in the form of Charles S. Cohen, the American entrepreneur and multibillionaire.
This year James, who cofounded the company with Sean Dixon, received an honor from Queen Elizabeth II for his services to men’s fashion, and next month the brand will open its first store in New York, a 1,800-square-foot unit at 461 Park Avenue and 57th Street.
The space, housed in what was once the tallest residential building in Manhattan, will carry all the Richard James ready-to-wear and offer bespoke and made-to-measure services.
Ahead of the launch, James and Dixon have released “Richard James Savile Row,” a coffee-table book and look back at the company’s most memorable moments. There’s a foreword by Elton John, essays by the likes of Peter York, Dylan Jones, India Knight, Toby Wiseman and Cohen himself, who had been a long time client before investing in the company and becoming its chairman.
There are numerous magazine covers and shoots from titles including George, Wallpaper, British GQ and Esquire as well as pages dedicated to James’ biggest hits from the past two decades, including a multistripe shirt, a window-pane jacket, teddy bear coat, the bright blue suit, the camouflage suit and the shadow stripe tie.
“We wanted to do something where we looked to the future, but also to what we’d done — and where we came from,” said Dixon during an interview with James upstairs at their bespoke store on Clifford Street, around the corner from the Row.
James recalled some of those past moments, including the printed silk polka-dot suits he did for Elton John “in 12 or 13 colors” for the “Got Milk?” ads in 2001, and the duo’s first tiny shop, “at number 37A Savile Row. Michael Howells did the furniture. It was quite fun then — and it doesn’t seem like that long ago,” he said.
The business partners met at Browns, the Burstein family’s multibrand designer shop in London, and opened the first shop in 1992. They were famously unpopular with the other tailors on the Row, a few of whom sniggered that Richard James wouldn’t last “five minutes.” Twenty-five years later it’s one of the few Savile Row names that’s been able to make the retail leap to America.
In his foreword, John — who is a customer and a close friend of James’ — said his biggest regret has been that “my friends all found out about Richard James, too.” In the short essay, he recalls an occasion “when we all turned up at a party to find we were each wearing the same shirt — a yellow striped number. Richard was wearing it, too, which made it even funnier.”
In addition to the New York store opening, which is set for Nov. 20, Richard James is also planning to launch colognes with license partner Colbico Ltd. next month.