Famous English Suit Makers

Written by helen harvey
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Famous English Suit Makers
A bespoke suit is hand cut and sewn to the highest standards. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Located in Mayfair, London, Savile Row has been the home of bespoke tailors and suit makers for centuries and has become synonymous with the highest quality of suit making. While none of the original tailoring companies are still in existence, the 20 tailors on Savile Row boast impressive histories and client lists, including royalty, celebrities, politicians and business elites. Hardy Amies, Gieves and Hawkes, Huntsman and Henry Poole are household names in custom suit making.

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Hardy Amies

While Sir Edwin Hardy Amies may best be remembered as Queen Elizabeth II's dress designer, he wrote a weekly men's fashion column in Esquire magazine and was known for designing high couture men's suits, a tradition the Hardy Amies company still continues, following his death in 2003. The Queen made him a Knight Commander of the British Empire for his services to the fashion world in 1989 and during his long career he received many accolades, including being inducted into the British Fashion Council Hall of Fame and having his work selected for permanent display at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Gieves and Hawkes

Gieves was founded in 1785 and Hawkes in 1771. They merged in 1974. A Royal Warrant is awarded to business of repute that supply goods or services to the reigning monarch and the members of the Royal Family. With three Royal Warrants bestowed upon the company, Gieves and Hawke has become known for outfitting British royalty, a service it has provided for more than two centuries. It is the main provider of tailoring, suits, military dress uniforms and morning dress for state occasions. Heir to the British throne, Prince Charles wore a Gieves and Hawkes military uniform for his marriage to Diana Spencer in 1981.

H. Huntsman and Sons

Founded in 1849, H. Huntsman and Sons has a reputation for the most expensive custom suits on Savile Row, which start at around £3,250, as of 2011, and rapidly escalate upwards. In the Tom Wolfe novel "The Bonfire of the Vanities" the narrator remarks of Sherman McCoy's jacket "Huntsman, Savile Row, London. Cost a god-damned fortune." In addition to its expensive custom suits, Huntsman is also known for its ready-to-wear collection, which offers off-the-peg suits that can be tailored for fit, and its use of striking tweeds and tartan fabrics, which make a bold fashion statement.

Henry Poole

The first suit maker to set up business in Savile Row was Henry Poole and Co., which was founded in 1806, by Henry Poole and his cousin, Samuel Cundey. The company fast became a favourite of King Edward VII, and now, more than a century later, the business still remains in the Poole and Cundey families. The company is credited with the creation of the first tuxedo, when according to its website, in 1860, Henry Poole made a short evening jacket for the Prince of Wales to wear at informal dinner parties.

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