Savile Row Pro Richard Anderson on Casual Tailoring and the Next Generation of Bespoke Makers

From the casualization of dress codes to a once-in-a-century global pandemic, Savile Row has seen its share of changes and challenges over the last 40 years. And Richard Anderson, who began an apprenticeship with Huntsman in 1982 at age 18 before founding his eponymous house in 2001, has had a front-row seat to it all.
Shortly after the occasion of his 100th New York trunk show, we sat down with the bespoke tailor to pick his brain on how the Row has changed over the past four decades, who’s still wearing a tie in 2024, and how the next generation of the family business is stepping up.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Is tailoring really making a comeback?

I think it is in a sense, from the pandemic. We couldn’t trade for a year; we really couldn’t do much. People’s patterns changed during that period. So, on that basis, I think people are wanting to dress up, get back into the full swing, and look good for that. Not everyone, because the world has changed since Covid. Everything is a little more relaxed to a certain extent. But I think that our customers who do enjoy tailoring and looking good are enthusiastically back with us.

What are customers currently interested in? I imagine it’s not the same as what had come before.

We’re lucky that we have a very loyal customer base so they’re back with us from Covid. I had a customer who ordered three suits today and they couldn’t have been more conservative. He ordered a white dinner jacket with dinner trousers, a three-piece suit in worsteds, so that was great. That’s still very relevant.

But on top of that, you’re getting the younger guys who don’t have to wear that formal stuff, so we’re working with more contemporary fabrics. Cottons, velvets, moleskins, and Donegal tweeds made into suits. The guys wear them rather than a traditional pinstripe. So, the fabric in some areas is going to get a little bit more casual to be worn without a tie. The cut of the suit is exactly the same, but the fabric is not quite as formal.

Are you seeing a similarity on both sides of the Atlantic, with your New York and London customers? Or is it breaking down differently in each market?

I think you’re getting a bit of both. In New York, I’ve got a few guys who have been customers of mine for 15 to 20 years and they are now looking for more of a softly constructed touch. Nothing too drastic, but a softer cut, a little bit more like separates. Blazers and trousers that could be worn into the office. I think there’s pretty much the same beat on both sides of the Atlantic, honestly.

From perusing your Instagram I’ve noticed some really phenomenal women’s tailoring. Is that something that you have always done, or have you introduced it more recently?

I’ve always done it. I was taught ladies’ wear back when I was at Huntsman in the ‘80s. But honestly, I’ve tweaked what I’ve learned now. I’ve put it in a more contemporary setting. And we’ve got some great women customers now. I’m also lucky in the respect that my daughter Molly is working with me. She has modeled some of the suits for us, and to have her in the shop as a model has prompted a great response, quite frankly. So that side of the business is really strong. That area has come on in leaps and bounds in the last couple of years.

What do you think has driven that increase in both tailors making for women and women’s interest in it?

I think that women cannot get what they want from the high street in some areas. There’s a big gap in the market to have something beautifully made, especially from a Savile Row tailor. And I think that if you can give a bit of line and elegance to the garment, then I think you have a rather large audience that isn’t well-catered for on the high street.

What’s the state of the tie in 2024?

People seem to be buying them more for occasions than workwear. We still have lots of guys who wear a tie to work, it’s not completely dead. But it is becoming a bit of a tieless world. And people are learning to wear their suits with a T-shirt or a sweater.

You’ve been on the Row now for over 40 years. What are the most significant changes you’ve seen in those decades?

A move towards lightweight fabrics. When I started it was all medium weights and heavy weights. I think that lightweight fabrics are much more at the fore now, with central heating. Years ago, our clients were aristocracy wandering around drafty castles, so there’s a warmth element which probably wasn’t there now.

There’s less true tailors in Savile Row now than there was, I think that’s true to say. And I think that the client base has also changed. Moving away from aristocracy and that sort of thing.

What might Savile Row look like 40 years from now?

The challenge we always face is maintaining the quality and passing that on to the young people. That’s really what people like me have got to do: To maintain the quality of the cut, the make, and the service, to maintain the tradition… And if we do that, I think that Savile Row will be in a very healthy position. We’ve survived wars, we’ve survived pandemics, we’ve survived all sorts of things. There’s a great demand for what we do, designing and making for the individual. But what we have to be very alive to is maintaining that quality that we’re known for.


What changes are in store for Richard Anderson in the next year?

We’ve taken on more space. We have a basement area, and we’ve started to work on the more casual ready-to-wear side there. We’re working on field jackets, soft jackets, and sweaters in that area. And on the bespoke side, we are increasing our team of coat makers to meet the demand. We’re moving my daughter Molly onto the cutting side; we’re going to push her forward and start her getting her own book of customers.

So, the second generation is coming up.

It is.

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