LONDON — Back for seconds.
Edward Sexton has returned to Savile Row, London’s traditional bespoke tailoring street to A-list stars, bankers, politicians and lawyers.
“Edward always used to say that it was all quite gossipy because it’s a small community and everyone knows each other like any small community, but actually what we have felt is that everyone’s so happy to have us returning,” Dominic Sebag-Montefiore, creative director of the brand, told WWD.
The brand, now located on 35 Savile Row, has taken over the empty space that was used by various companies to host events.
Sexton set up shop with his business partner Tommy Nutter in 1969 and brought an air of rebellious glamour that the neighbors weren’t used to. He spoke to the press; dressed his windows in statement jackets, and three of the Beatles wore his suits on the album cover of “Abbey Road.” They closed their store permanently in 1990.
The comeback to the established street that’s dubbed a “golden mile of tailoring” after the pandemic is tricky business.
Kilgour, one of the oldest tailoring houses, closed shop in March 2020 despite its rich history. It provided everything from Fred Astaire’s tailcoat in the 1935 musical “Top Hat” to Cary Grant’s blue-gray plaid suit that he wears throughout Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 spy thriller “North by Northwest.”
Hardy Amies, who shot to fame by designing the costumes for Stanley Kubrick “2001: A Space Odyssey” and the gown worn by Queen Elizabeth II in her Silver Jubilee portrait in 1997, closed its store in 2019.
“No one really sees us as competition because we have quite a strong house style and we’re just a healthy addition to the street,” Sebag-Montefiore said.
Britain’s Office for National Statistics, which is used to measure annual inflation rates, said it noticed “a gradual fall” in spending on suits in March, but a traditional black or pinstripe suit has never been the Edward Sexton bread and butter.
The brand clientele tends to come from the creative industry, “artists, musicians, captains of industry and people who sail their own ship,” he said, plus women who want to stand out “in a different way.”
“It’s classic British quality craft, but rebellious by knowing and choosing to break the rules and in a meaningful way, while remaining elegant,” said Sebag-Montefiore, who started at the company more than a decade ago and has been very hands-on with what the brand represents visually.
When revamping the brand website, he firmly removed images that felt too romantic.
“We’ve got an edge, but we’re still an establishment, the same as the Beatles and Rolling Stones; they were rebellious back in the day, but now they’re part of an establishment and people look up to them because of that,” Sebag-Montefiore said.
The business has been offering women’s bespoke tailoring since the early ’70s with the likes of Bianca Jagger, Eva Herzigova, Annie Lennox and Naomi Campbell, who “was a huge customer for a while.”
Long warm coats, tuxedos and cashmere jackets are what women are requesting at Edward Sexton. The brand plans to introduce a capsule of women’s pieces by 2024 as they are available for men.
“We get our inspiration from being in dialogue with clients and understanding when we’re making things for them, where they’re going to wear them, how they’re going to exist and how they want to be perceived,” Sebag-Montefiore said.
Not following the Savile Row guidebook is exactly why the brand has been able to return to the area it once called home.
Right before the pandemic, the brand opened a pop-up shop to test the waters, but mere days later the U.K. government called an official lockdown.
The company has been expanding on its own accord online, which is why it is confident about opening a store during a national cost of living crisis that it feels it can endure.
All prices are listed on the brand’s website: a Savile Row bespoke suit starts from 5,000 pounds; offshore bespoke (combines inhouse cuts with manufacturing technology from overseas) starts from 2,300 pounds; made-to-measure from 1,600 pounds, and ready-to-wear pieces retail from 1,250 pounds.
“Having something bespoke made is something really special and it’s an experience that’s considered because it comes with longevity and care,” said Sebag-Montefiore, who has just come back from a three-week trip visiting customers in the U.S., a market that’s been growing.
Another big growth in the last year has been in the U.K.
Sebag-Montefiore’s next strategy for the business is working on clear communication with clients and setting up logic coding to help with sizing for new and returning ones.
“We’re not working with advanced AI, but just using good tailoring logic with a bit of coding to distill our expertise into something that’s very simple with video content to help explain that,” he said.