A Life on Savile Row, In Conversation with Richard Anderson
On the 29th November at the Fashion and Textile Museum, Richard gave us an insight into his career on Savile Row in an interview with Aleks Cvetkovic, Deputy Editor of the Jackal Magazine. From his first steps as an apprentice cutter at Huntsman at the tender age of seventeen, to starting his own business a few doors down in 2001 with Savile Row legend Brian Lishak, Alex and Richard discussed the nuances of tailoring, menswear and sartorial style. Sartorial novices, experts, students and family all took their seats to listen and learn about the wonderful (and oftentimes unseen) world of Savile Row.
“How I became a tailor was really an accident. It was my father who saw a tiny advert in the Daily Telegraph for an apprentice cutter and he frogmarched me up to Savile Row. I was clothes-conscious as a teenager, interested in street fashions such as Punk and Mod. I walked into Huntsman on a snowy day and the bustling and fabulous ambience of the place was like walking into another world. It had a great energy to it even though the whole of Huntsman could at times feel quite intimidating.”
“I inherited Huntsman in 1994 as head cutter and we had two years to turn a loss-making company around. For the previous eight years the old management hadn’t put the prices up at all, so we were running at a slight loss. The first thing we did was introduce our own fabrics, increase output by 20% and also put our prices up by 20%. Customers loved what we were doing. We doubled the volume of suits sold from 600 to 1300 suits in one year. Unfortunately, our Japanese owners decided to sell us to a new group of American investors. I was 36 years old at the time and I could see the writing on the wall. I thought, it’s now or never to do it, and I was proved right, although everyone at the time thought my business partner and I were mad.”
Single-Breasted Black Sequin Suit
Richard shared his expertise on the evolving art of tailoring and how styles have changed to suit the 21st century customer, displaying a number of key pieces that show his range and daring as a Head Cutter and designer. Alex and Richard discussed pieces such as the single breasted black-sequined suit (adorned by the likes of Brian Ferry); the patchwork Sports Coat made from the off cuts of our favourite tweeds; our infamous Denim Sports Jacket; an asymmetric pinstripe with contrasting lapels; and a stunning red Duffle Coat. In going through each piece’s technicalities and rich designs, Alex and Richard showed the journey of the Richard Anderson style; bold, adventurous, yet still playfully traditional and wearable.
Single-Breasted Patchwork Tweed Sports Jacket
“We wanted Richard Anderson to be less intimidating for people my own age – in their late thirties – than Huntsman where it was very much, ‘Lord this, Sir that’. We had white walls and modern art and we also liked to play rock ‘n’ roll. Our house cut is mixture between a riding coat and a dinner jacket and is a strong influence on Savile Row. We cut the armholes quite high to get a nice long movement through the side seam. It’s really to give people the illusion of being taller and slimmer than they are. It’s a clean look.”
“Savile Row is thriving, but you have to be relevant to today. We’re known throughout the world for our quality. If we maintain that style, make and service, we’ll thrive.”