Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Saville Row under threat?

Post number 15

Saville Row under threat?:

Ref: Saville Row, BBC2 TV (www.bbc.co.uk), 23:20 hours GMT, Tuesday 28 October 2008.

Our dry cleaning specific comments: Saville Row is reportedly under threat. The youth of today are not Saville Row customers and don’t wear many suits. In efforts to boost business, the tailors are concentrating on the military personnel and make their uniforms, in the hope of attracting may be 10% of them to become customers and get their future suits made in Saville Row.

There is Gieves and Hawke’s in number 1, who established in 1771, Norton & Sons in 1821, and Richard James, a late comer has set up shop in number 29. All fine tailors with exquisite work and history to match where an apprentice needs to spend 5 years to qualify as a mere apprentice. A military jacket could take 100 man/woman hours to make, which may reflect the premiums charged.

Yet, these fine institutions where even the likes of Mikhail Gorbachev still have their suits made, are under threat from lack of demand and the recent changes in life styles. But are these really the reason for the downturn? We think not and here is why:

From our own view point, Saville Row tailoring is analogous to classics like most old Rolls Royce, or a hand built Morgan. They are collectable classics and will never go out of fashion. To look good, they are lovingly restored, kept clean and shown off. To bring them up to date on emission levels, you could fit a catalytic convertor and stop feeling guilty about spewing masses of CO2 in our air.

The catalytic converter to Saville Row old attire and indeed new is good dry cleaning. Provided they are dry cleaned the way we cleaned for Norton and Sons in the early 90s, the suits will always attract attention as if they were new (pure wool).

Try this test:

We invite you to get yourself a Saville Row pure new wool suit, a hunting jacket, and a Harris Tweed sports jacket made to measure. Overseas visitors can make a point of getting the garments for the purposes of this test. After collecting them, wear them to the full. Subject them to sitting down for hours, crossing legs, folding arms, even doing a spot of break dancing in them. The attire will never look tired, will not crease, and will not loose their fine visual appeal.

We know. We conducted the test and are living to tell the tale. We went a step further. We actually slept in a suit, and attended a meeting the next morning to sell the crease resistance of our work on pure new wool suits. When we referred to our testing the suit so severely, and the suit looking fresher than the participant’s suits, no one believed us; or we wouldn’t be sitting down and telling you about it.

Now then, when the suit is really dirty after a spell of break dancing, take it to your favourite and trusting dry cleaner. When you collect it, the suit will be dead! It will smell, colours will be dull, will crease as soon as you sit down and cross your legs. In short, your suit will look like some of the suits the Saville Row tailors themselves were wearing when the BBC recorded ‘Saville Row’ and last week’s episode ‘Saville Row, Foreign Affairs’.

It’s the dry cleaning that has suppressed the demand. It has made the Rolls Royce and Morgan look like they have been panel beaten and given a paint jobs by some youth trainees learning the skills. Body filling is used instead of replacing dented parts with new factory pieces. There are dents every where and mismatches of colour.

We still suggest that you buy a Saville Row suit or two and try the test to prove to yourselves that the bottle neck to growth in Saville Row and inter dependent businesses is indeed dry cleaning. Fortunately, damage done by dry cleaning of wool suits worn thus is reversible. All you need to do is to wait until there is a CCCC licensed shop near you, and your suits will be made to look, smell and feel as good as new. We are working hard and have a good team now to succeed.

We especially encourage the likes of Jon Snow of www.channel4/news and Kirsty Young of www.fivetv (?) to do our Saville Row test. They will no longer need to read the news standing up or sitting on a desk edge respectively to read the news. Kirsty, if no longer with Five TV, is with www.bbc.co.uk/radio4 (Desert Island Discs), probably standing up in a suit (not Saville Row) while the week’s subject, probably a Cambridge don in nano technology sporting a T shirt, a pair of wrinkled jeans,and sitting down comfortably cross legged, covered in tattoos and body pierced to no end. It’s difficult to tell with Radio.



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