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Kilgour has joined Gieves & Hawkes and Hardy Amies in being taken over by the Chinese.

The Hong Kong-based investment company, Fung Capital, acquired the tailors in September. It plans to bring out a Kilgour ready-to-wear range, as also for Hardy Amies, and for a new Amies shop on the Row.

In its heyday, the firm was known as Kilgour, French & Stanbury, and made the iconic tailcoat for Fred Astaire in the film ‘Top Hat’, one of many famous saavfred.jpgcustomers. In recent years, it has been a shadow of its former self, leaning towards the ready-to-wear market, while retaining an impressive shop on the Row.

Fifty one years ago this summer, Fred Stanbury was celebrating 50 years in tailoring. He is seen here being presented with the very latest in stereophonic radiograms by one of the newest recruits - John Pearse, then a trainee at Hawes & Curtis, who went on to run the famous Granny Takes a Trip in Kings Road, and who now has his tailoring shop in Soho.

It is sad to see a great bespoke name lose stature and the Stanbury brothers, Fred and Louis, must be spinning in their graves. Leading Savile Row figures in the  1950s and 60s, Fred was the more reserved, industrious one, Louis the imposing showman with a preference for d.b. suits and an savadavies.jpgeye for the ladies. Now, it is two other brothers, William and Victor Fung, who have acquired the firm, heading up a family company that has extensive international operations.

Two other brothers around at the same time as the Stanburys were the Helmans, Harry and Burt. Like the Stanburys, one was the affable front man, Harry, and Burt the more reserved one of the two. Other old bespoke names, such as Hogg, & J.B. Johnstone, Wells of Mayfair, Joce & Co, James & James, and Wells have all either gone or been acquired. Fung Capital has another in its sights now to add to their Savile Row Brands portfolio.

Alan Bennett, right, a tailor's tailor, maintains the bespoke tradition at Davies & Son on the Row, and has taken many old names under his wing.

As big concerns increasingly muscle in on the territory with eyes on the more expansive ready-to-wear market, along with a desire to have some of Savile Row’s saavrandersonstripe.jpginternational reputation rub off on them, the numbers of old firms who concentrate upon bespoke craftsmanship have diminished, with fewer actual tailors at the top.

The good news is that new names are replacing old ones, and there are many more aspiring tailors keen to join their ranks. The Row has far more applicants for places by would-be trainees than it can possibly accommodate – long gone are the days when Kilgour had 3 or 400 employees.

Just as the news of Kilgour’s acquisition was breaking so one of the younger names in the Golden Mile was celebrating his move into the tailoring hub on St George Street, just around the corner from Savile Row. Steven Hitchcock trained at Anderson & Sheppard and has been running his own company successfully for 10 years now. His Anderson & Sheppard mentor, John Hitchcock, was at the party (see right).

Above, a Spring jacket by Richard Anderson, showing the influence of classic Huntsman styling, if in a somewhat brighter fashion. Below, another classic from Byrne & Burge.

Richard Anderson is no longer a ‘young newcomer’, having established his company a dozen years ago. He trained under Colin Hammick at Huntsman and maintains the high standards he learnt there. savbyrne.jpgByrne & Burge, the husband and wife team who respectively trained at Henry Poole/Anderson & Sheppard and Gieves & Hawkes, stick resolutely to bespoke, and there are even a few firms now with women tailors at the helm, notably Kathryn Sargent, who trained at Gieves & Hawkes.

Meantime, some old names have new credentials. Row stalwart John Kent has returned busier than ever with compatriots at Kent, Haste & Lachter; and another veteran, Malcolm Plews, one of the Row's finest cutters, is to be found with a sitting at the Meyer & Mortimer premises on Sackville Street.

Some may maintain that standards are not what they were. That is probably said about most craftsmanship today, and has been said no doubt throughout the years. But in an age when mass production, fast turn-over and brand marketing dominate, the very fact that real Savile Row bespoke houses continue to produce hand-made, labour intensive, beautiful clothes, with the confines of the fitting room as confidential as ever – well, it’s a small miracle.




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A JOLLY party was hosted by Steven Hitchcock at the end of September to celebrate his move to 11 St George Street and at the same time to promote the book of his friend, Rose Callahan (see Dandy).


He is one of a number of bespoke craftsmen in this building, including L J Wilkinson, Byrne & Burge, Anthony Hewitt, and Denman & Goddard. A veritable treasure house of bespoke craftsmanship.

Steve trained at Anderson & Sheppard, evident in the soft tailoring line he favours. His mentor at A & S was John Hitchcock, managing director and head cutter, who came along to the celebration.

The two of them are seen above, Steve on the right.


HUNTSMAN is one of Savile Row's top names that is now secure.

Since it was taken over and headed up by Roubi l'Roubi in roubi.jpgSpring of this year, it has been undergoing major changes. As well as refurbishment of the premises, much planning and considerable hard work have gone into developments to be revealed in a few weeks time.

Roubi is quietly confident of results. "We really have a good team now and they are all enthusiastic," he says. "And I am very happy with how everything is going."