Savile Row might not be a household name for most Kenyans but they are for many politicians and the business elite who desire to espouse class, fine living and elegance. It is so well-known that in Japan the word for a suit is ‘sebiru’, a corruption of ‘Savile Row’
The likes of Charles Njonjo, Jimmy Wanjigi, and former President Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi have been loyal adherents to suits from the iconic name.
Unlike what many believe, Savile Row is not a fashion house/brand like Gucci or Versace but a street in London where some of the world’s best suit makers are located.
The street is located in Mayfair, central London. It was originally named Savile Street and built between 1731 and 1735 as part of the development of the Burlington Estate.
Initially, the street was occupied mainly by military officers and their wives. Tailors started doing business in the area in the late 18th century; first in Cork Street, about 1790, then by 1803 in Savile Row itself.
The term “bespoke” as applied to fine tailoring is understood to have originated in Savile Row, and came to mean a suit cut and made by hand.
Today, greats such as Gieves & Hawkes, Anderson & Sheppard, Chittleborough & Morgan, Richard Anderson, Dege & Skinner, Richard James, Henry Poole, Huntsman, Dege & Skinner have shops and workshops on the Row.
Characteristic of a suit from Savile Row are below;
Savile Row suits are typically heavier than Italian or American suits with the woold they use being much lighter but very sturdy.
A suit from the Row is cut to perfectly suit the client’s body.
A good from the street comes with a timeless cut, but it’s also durable enough to withstand the passage of time. Traditionally, a Savile Row suit would be passed down from father to son. When the son came of age, the father would take him to the tailor with his suit and have it altered for him.
Prices for a bespoke suit start at nearly £5,000 (Ksh. 643,800 shillings) and can go up £10,000(Ksh. 1,287,600) for very exclusive materials. The ready-to-wear suits are available starting from £2,200(Ksh. 283,272).