The Row is globally synonymous with classic British tailoring. Savile Street, as it was originally known, was built between 1731 and 1735 by the 3rd Earl of Burlington, who named the street after his wife, Lady Dorothy Savile. First occupied residentially by the military and their wives, it wasn’t until the late 18th century that tailors started to take up residence on ‘the golden mile of tailoring’.
To today’s residents and tailors, Savile Row is much more than simply an address on a map, rather an incredibly important piece of history and a pinnacle point for British design and bespoke men’s tailoring. Most of the tailors that occupy The Row have been in situ for centuries – the oldest, Henry Poole & Co, was established in 1806, while Gieves & Hawkes has sat at No.1 Savile Row since 1913.
In 1661, Henry Jermyn obtained a grant from King Charles II to develop the residential area known as St James’s Field in West London. Starting with four core streets – King Street, Charles Street, Duke Street and York Street – Jermyn went on to develop one of London’s most desirable addresses, both residentially and commercially, and as a result is widely regarded as the true founder of the West End. Some of Britain’s most distinguished gentlemen, including Sir Isaac Newton and William Pitt, have since called this street home.
Today, this famous London postcode is primarily made up of Great British shirt-makers, many of whom have been in residence for centuries.
‘Our store has changed very little in over a century,’ says Dean Gomilsek-Cole, head of design at Turnbull & Asser. ‘It is visited by people wanting to see where Prince Charles gets his shirts, or where Sean Connery was measured for his James Bond cocktail cuff shirt. It’s a brilliant place to people-watch; I get some great inspiration looking at who is coming out of Wiltons after lunch, Davidoff for a smoke, or Floris after picking up
their bespoke scents.’
St James’s Street
St James’s Street as we know it first came into existence during the 1660s, after Henry Jermyn built St James’s Square and took the connecting street under his wing, giving it the financial and physical boost it needed. Soon after development, the street filled with some of the most prestigious and exclusive gentleman’s clubs in the whole of London, along with exclusive shops such as D.R. Harris and William Evans, selling proudly British products.
‘St James’s Street has been at the heart of London life for more than 300 years,’ explains Geordie Willis, eighth-generation family member and creative director at wine merchants Berry Bros. & Rudd. Firmly entrenched in the capital’s history, St James’s first became fashionable credit to its proximity to the Court – the area has maintained its sophistication and elegance ever since. The street, like a fine wine, continues to age gracefully.’
‘Mount Street has always felt like the beating heart of Mayfair,’ says James Horne, Chairman of James Purdey & Sons, which has been a residence of Mount Street since the late 1800s.
Mount Street’s original function as a shopping destination remains unchanged, even after an entire reconstruction in the 1800s. Its reputation, however, has grown significantly, morphing from a street of ugly function and ‘dirty’ trades to one of unrivalled elegance and glamour. Owned largely by the Grosvenor family, the first Duke went about rebuilding Mount Street to attract some of the world’s most affluent men and women, creating an ornamental range of shops, flats and houses using intricate Queen Anne-style architecture.
Today, Mount Street is home to an eclectic mix of European and American high-end designers, as well as some of the best British brands, butchers and cafés.