This season, pride comes before the fall.
Just west of Savile Row on Old Burlington Street, Anderson & Sheppards shop window has the comforting dignity typical of a long-established business. An intimate store, shelves of well-arranged fabrics proudly display the foundation for Anderson & Sheppards tailoring. Nearby, cutters in workrooms busily review the outlines of future suits. These are the final stages. This is what comes after the measurements, after the introductions.
The fittings that follow can be much more complicated. A customer usually tries on a piece two to three times before the garment has been adequately adjusted. Actively testing the full flexibility of the shops custom suits, Fred Astaire was known to transform Anderson & Sheppards fitting room into a small stage, examining his jackets considerate design, its fall, and the way it was cut full over the chest and shoulder blades. Although most clients may not depend so heavily on the high, small armholes and sloped-shoulder standard for the companys suits, these adjustments were essential to the performer and still are to any man who desires a full range of movement while dressed to the nines.
Purely bespoke, Anderson & Sheppard best solves the discrepancy between custom tailoring and suits that are simply made-to-measure, by supplying complete specificity and choice to the client. Its garments utilize a relaxed construction, incorporating the English drape inaugurated by Frederick Scholte early in the twentieth century. Under the renowned tailors tutelage, the establishments co-founder Per Anderson adopted this innovative method as his own. In 1906, with the partnership of investor Sydney Horatio Sheppard, Anderson began the firm which until recently was known as No. 30 of Savile Row. A variation of Scholtes original design, the English drape which Anderson & Sheppard featured for the last century has certainly become one of the companys signature techniques. This is one of many which inspired designer Tom Ford to praise the firm as Other best tailor in the world.
Limited to their single store, the tailors of Anderson & Sheppard do not embrace the convenient world of mass production. Their designs continue to be entirely reliant on the individual, and while each creation adheres to the companys style, nothing is pre-made. It is this skillful blend of personalization and astute technique that attracts so many notable clients to the establishment. Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and even the Prince of Wales wear Anderson & Sheppard suits. Following a time-honored practice, a minimum of 27 measurements are taken for a first-time customer each measurement still recorded by hand in a leather-bound ledger, just as Fred Astaires, Noel Cowards, and Laurence Oliviers were and a minimum of 50 man-hours go into the making of every suit. These are aspects of the company that never change.
Not pure fashion, the company makes garments which can endure a great deal of wear. According to the firms managing director, John Hitchcock, A 10-year-old suit is considered a new suit. Each jacket is made with the intention of becoming an essential part of a mans wardrobe, and when well-kept, an Anderson & Sheppard suit can easily survive 15 years.
In accordance with such quality, Anderson & Sheppard defines itself based on a tenet of excellence. Actively publicizing the bespoke industry, the company collaborates with other firms in order to maintain the rare niche they represent. This single shop continues as the custodian of a great tailoring heritage. It still openly revels in looking forward, and is still dedicated to familiarizing each generation with the art of fine tailoring, according to Hitchcock.
Aware that certain traditions should never be discarded, Anderson & Sheppard maintains a legacy of distinctive silhouettes and attentive detail. With its creators unwilling to compromise on that intimate collaboration of client and tailor, each garment remains unique, each design the craftsmans pride, a work all its own.