Hackett has opened a store on the iconic Savile Row, the ultimate name in tailoring and men’s elegance. This move brings the founder of the British brand back to the street where he worked in the ‘70s, now occupying number 14. Essential Macau spoke to Jeremy Hackett about the decision that marks a new and exciting step in the history of the London house
By César Brigante
After many years of promoting British style and tradition, Hackett London has finally arrived at Savile Row, considered the center of a culture in which tailoring takes the top spot. At a time when Row-based houses are increasingly developing their ready-to-wear (RTW) lines as a way to enhance and grow their business, Hackett London is taking the opposite path: from the world of RTW, it has now opened a store in central London’s famous Mayfair to consummate the age-old relationship and provide its customers with a completely genuine sartorial experience.
For anyone who knows the Hackett journey, it is a natural step. Since the opening of its first store on Kings Road in 1983, the legendary street has been the beacon of the brand, as Jeremy Hackett explains. From the early days of Hackett, my motivation has always been to design in the style of Savile Row, using the same fabrics, linings, buttons…but in RTW. So, subscribing to tailoring by opening a space on the acclaimed Savile Row, a place highly regarded by all gentlemen in the world, is a natural evolution and a way to cement our reputation.”
For Jeremy, this is also the fulfillment of an old dream, as it was at Row that he started working when he moved to London in the 1970s and joined the team of (now deceased) Michael Ingram, one of the big names of ‘60s London fashion.
The new shop was completed in November and is located in the beautiful four-storey Georgian building that once held the studio of Sir Hardy Amies, who Jeremy Hackett met at his Jermyn Street store, where the tailor would buy his stiff collars. One of Row’s greatest figures who always excelled in discretion, Amies was known above all for making Queen Elizabeth’s tunics, and saying that “a man should look as if he had bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care, and then forgotten all about them”.
“I feel very privileged to follow in the footsteps of such an admired designer: it’s a legacy that I will have to live up to,” says Jeremy, unable to conceal his pride.
The store, located between two well-known workshops – the bicentennial Henry Poole & Co and the most recent arrival, just 20 years ago, Richard Anderson – was restored by Ben Pentreath’s studio in a process closely overseen by Jeremy Hackett. Ben, one of the most respected British interior architects today and who is very knowledgeable of traditional English architecture, does not hesitate to say that number 14 Savile Row is one of the most beautiful original Georgian buildings he knows in the English capital.
This opinion is shared by Jeremy, who tells us about the new space. “No. 14 is one of Row’s most beautiful buildings and is listed as an example of Georgian magnificence. The size of the property not only enabled us to set up the RTW store, but also to have the measurement rooms, as well as the offices, the showroom and the public relations department, with the bonus of getting Hardy Amies’ office.”
Savile Row was designed in the first half of the 18th century and, thanks to the excellence of its masters, quickly became the great centre for tailoring in Her Majesty’s land. It also become the go-to destination for leading illustrious people from all over the world to get their suits and uniforms made. Although it was incredibly sought after by royalty, politicians, businessmen, Hollywood actors and all the men of status for whom elegance meant everything, in the middle of the last century, it declined with the advent of pret-a-porter and the powerful fashion industry. In this regard, Jeremy Hackett has a skeptical relationship that he explains when we ask him what place Hackett and Savile Row have in today’s fashion world. “I personally believe that Savile Row has little to do with contemporary fashion and, while recognising its importance as a phenomenon, I take from it only what is relevant to Hackett. It is a point of view that does not slavishly follow the latest trends. Savile Row has an amazing story of tailoring and craftsmanship that symbolises quality and style and, to me, that is true luxury. With so much out there today, Savile Row produces sustainability, because a beautiful custom-made suit is timeless and can be worn for many years, which puts it far beyond the ephemeral whims of contemporary fashion.
In recent years, there has been a surge of interest around traditional métiers and in particular tailoring. The luxury industry has been repositioning itself, valuing more and more the craftwork that it uses as a factor of differentiation and exclusivity. Although there is now a much greater perception of what Savile Row stands for and the importance of preserving it, it still risks being ‘contaminated’ by the presence of stores with concepts that are conflicting with the essence of Row.
We asked Jeremy the question of whether a brand such as Hackett, from the world of RTW, could contribute to this dreaded misrepresentation, to which he responded assertively: “I disagree. In fact, not everyone can have suits made at a luxury tailor’s. So, having something already made under the discerning eye of an experienced tailor, although not tailoring, is the most appropriate and affordable way to introduce a young person to the wonders of this art and, who knows, perhaps arouse his or her interest for later, when they have the purchasing power to buy a bespoke suit.”
However, in order to maintain the tradition as much as possible, it was requested that they use the personal designation of its founder rather than the trademark. Therefore, the name that appears above the door of No. 14 is J.P. Hackett.
When asked how he sees the future down this road, Jeremy is optimistic. “Savile Row shop-owners have been very careful about recovering the street. With the growing appreciation for tailoring, young people are increasingly showing interest in becoming tailors. There is a great resurgence of traditional crafts, a greater interest in handmade and quality (and consequently, longevity), patterns that Savile Row has always stood by.”
Besides a tailoring team, led by master cutter Juan Carlos Benito, which will follow Row’s current canons, with a measurement session, choice of fabric from the 4,000-plus available, manual cutting and sewing, and an average of three fittings, in a feat that can take up to 80 hours of work, an exclusive RTW collection by the name of JP Hackett Savile Row will be available from spring next year. Jeremy says it will “showcase Hackett’s best and will be a kind of icing on the cake for the brand”. This tailoring department has already started taking orders from Hackett stores around the world.
To accompany the opening, in collaboration with D.R. Harris, a well-known men’s perfumer in St. James since 1790, a cologne was created, along with soap and moisturiser, aptly named No. 14. To make the experience more complete, the store featured a room similar to a British club, where guests can relax and have a drink at the bar.
Still evoking the brand’s early days, when it sold antique accessories that it discovered in regular raids through London’s antique markets, an area was created where vintage items will be sold. Jeremy Hackett, certainly very happy with this achievement, concludes with a smile: “In many ways, I went full circle. I hope you can visit this new space and, who knows, I’ll be here to welcome you with a cup of English breakfast tea or, why not, a gin and tonic.”