LONDON — Savile Row has seen a lot of action in the last few decades, including the arrival and departure of Abercrombie & Fitch, art galleries taking over tailor shops and the rise and fall of famous names such as Hardy Amies and Gieves & Hawkes.
One thing it hasn’t seen in its near 180-year history is a tailor that caters exclusively to women — until now. The Deck, founded by Huntsman alum Daisy Knatchbull, has become the first women’s tailor with a shopfront on the street, and one of the largest ones, too.
Located at No. 32 Savile Row, the airy shop spans 2,000 square feet and features De Gournay wallpaper with hand-embroidered flower, bird and butterfly appliqués; blond parquet floors, and a lush velvet sofa facing a gold antique mirror.
“It was really important to create a light, bright, welcoming, cozy atmosphere that felt almost like you could be in the living room of a really beautiful home,” said Knatchbull, who tapped the London design firm Cordles, which specializes in hand craftsmanship, to undertake the work.
Knatchbull, dressed in a pair of dark wool trousers, Converse high tops and a gray sweater, said she wanted the shop to serve as a refuge for clients, a high-flying group of women who range in age from 17 to 94.
“Most of our clients live very busy lives and I want them to come in and have an hour of peace and quiet with their tailor, perusing cloths and trying on the clothes we’re making for them,” said the fast-talking, energetic Knatchbull, who served as communications director for another Savile Row tailor, Huntsman, before launching The Deck.
A born marketer and entrepreneur, Knatchbull’s grandmother, Lady Mountbatten, was a member of the House of Lords, the upper house of the British Parliament, and a cousin of the late Prince Philip.
She launched the brand nearly four years ago and — despite the pandemic closures and post-Brexit trading woes — has managed to keep the business intact, and growing.
Her original aim was offer women the same sort of made-to-measure service men get from their tailors.
She said the name The Deck came from the idea of reshuffling a pack of cards, thinking differently and starting afresh. “Men aren’t the only ones wanting tailored suits — and women don’t just want them for work,” she told WWD in 2019.
She raised the money from private backers and opened a basement shop on the King’s Road before moving to Lower Sloane Street. During the pandemic, she moved to a small space on Savile Row before opening the big shopfront at No. 32, which had previously been a café, events and pop-up space.
Through it all, Knatchbull stood by her mission to offer women long-lasting, versatile tailored clothing that fits their curves, works with their proportions, and forgives figure flaws.
Customers can choose from around 7,000 fabrics, mainly from the U.K. and Italy. The Deck will monogram, customize buttons and thread colors and create linings and collars with personal effects such as silk scarves or heirloom fabrics.
At the first appointment, the Deck’s female tailors ask their customers about how they live, work and dress, as well as how much they travel, and about their particular peeves — and needs.
They do an average of three to four fittings, and the suits are made at the company’s atelier in Porto, Portugal. They’re usually delivered in 12 to 14 weeks.
The Deck also makes skirts and dresses, but the suit is the brand breadwinner. Knatchbull argues that with a starting price of 2,800 pounds for a jacket and a pair of trousers, a suit from The Deck is an unbeatable long-term investment.
That’s roughly the price of a Tom Ford cotton velvet blazer, and 200 pounds less than a wool blend jacket from The Row, neither of which is made-to-measure.
Knatchbull said top-end prices at The Deck are 4,000 pounds. There is a lifetime repair policy and the clothing is made with inlays so that it can be let out, or taken in, depending on weight loss or gain.
“It’s about creating that versatility, and that small but mighty wardrobe that stands the test of time,” said Knatchbull, adding that reorder rates run at 40 to 60 percent.
“I always say you can wear our suit to pick your kids up from school, and to a black-tie dinner. These are wardrobe staples and you can create dozens of looks from them as long as you have a great shirt, a nice polo neck, a good pair of heels and trainers,” she said.
Knatchbull said that since the end of the pandemic she’s seen a surge in demand for occasion dressing, and weddings in particular.
“Pre-pandemic, there were no brides,” Knatchbull said. But now they’re streaming in, often with their mothers and other close relatives in tow.
Knatchbull said The Deck does a lot of light blue, three-piece suits for the mother of the bride. “They’re funky, and amazing — you can cover your shoulders in church and then take the jacket off and hit the dance floor in the waistcoat, trousers and trainers. A lot of these women don’t want to wear high heels anymore,” she said.
The Deck has been making so many outfits for mothers, daughters and grandmothers that it recently did a campaign promoting the clothes’ cross-generational appeal.
With Savile Row now open, Knatchbull has her eyes on further expansion. She’s doing a 10-day trunk show in the U.S., where she plans to see around 90 clients in New York and Palm Beach, Florida.
She’ll return to the U.S. later this year and add Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas to her trunk show itinerary. She said that, ideally, her next store would be the U.S., but it’s still too early to talk about specifics.
Knatchbull said that as much as she loves an overseas trunk show, she’s aware of how quickly and brutally the COVID-19 pandemic curtailed foreign travel.
“Travel doesn’t always go as planned, so we’re looking at how we serve the customer without getting on a plane every three months, and how we can make that process smoother and faster,” said Knatchbull, who has been working to develop tech solutions for The Deck that will be revealed later this year.