Fashion can be fickle. What’s ‘on trend’ one day can become fashion road kill in the blink of an eye and as much as we probably don’t like to admit it, we are all slaves to the style alter. We’re always told by our elders to keep hold of precious items because one day everything comes back into fashion, yet it seems there’s only ever been one true trend that defies time and place. A trend that when all other trends have come and gone will still be standing as strong as ever; not a lapel out of place or a seam left unstitched. That trend of course is tailoring. People come from far and wide, each craving that elusive bespoke fit that is so often imitated yet rarely achieved. Because nowhere does it quite like us Brits and at the heart of Westminster lies the holy grail, London’s Savile Row.
Having earned her stripes under the tutelage of Gieves & Hawkes, Kathryn Sargent became the first woman ever in the history of Savile Row to rise to the esteemed position of head cutter. Sargent, who has since gone on to open her own independent house, explains why London is so important to not only her brand but the craft itself. “London and Savile Row are the true centre of the British tailoring world, here the craft has been nurtured and cared for over many centuries. For the Kathryn Sargent brand it is essential, while having a modern and ever adapting approach to design, to be part of this tradition and to be linked to the history of the craft, Savile Row, Mayfair and London. Savile Row and the British suit are international icons of design.”
But of course it couldn’t just be London alone that cemented the craft into fashion history. For Sargent the reason behind the timelessness of tailoring is in the way the clothes make us feel, the confidence they embody, and the air of professionalism they exude. “Through time people have learnt to appreciate the adaptability and durability of good tailoring; clothes that allow you to dress them up or down and allow you to move from day to night or from formal to informal with ease. Quite simply I think it is this multifaceted role that good tailoring plays, as well as its ability to incorporate and endure changes in style, that has allowed it to become so timeless.”
The key to such fine tailored garments fro both Savile Row and other London based tailors is the beauty of bespoke. No expense is spared and no length of time is ever too long when it comes to creating that perfect piece of artisanship. For Sargent this distinct detail is what sets the craft apart, as tailors and their customers come together to create a garment that will forever be so much more than just another item in their wardrobe.
“The art of bespoke tailoring creates a garment that enhances your good features and flatters your shape. We always work to tailor and fine tune the garment to ensure the perfect look and fit. In ordering a bespoke garment you get to have a direct hand in in influencing the design, choosing the cloths, linings, and buttons but also in working to ensure that in consultation the garment is fit for its purpose,” explains Sargent.
Much like anything which can stand the test of time, it must evolve in order to stay relevant, whilst remaining true to its fundamental roots. Sargent explains how this advancement within the craft has shaped the Savile Row we still know and love to this day. From the days when each house serviced a specific need such as day wear, evening wear, and riding to international investments which have enabled great old firms to remain pioneers in their field. “The craft of tailoring and Savile Row in particular have always moved with the times, changing who they service and adjusting to incorporate modern elements into the style of the garments. At its core the trade of course remains the same; handmade garments made in collaboration with their clients.”
To satisfy the demand of fast fashion, many London tailors have also begun to branch out into the realms of ready-to-wear in order to satisfy the need for instant style, whilst appealing to a wider market. Yet this is an avenue that Sargent will not be contemplating anytime soon. “At Kathryn Sargent we focus only on bespoke and we don’t work with a house style, as we believe in working with the client to find their own specific look that works for them. Tailoring will continue to adopt new cloth technologies, adapt to changing styles, and to work with the ever changing needs of our clientele.”
Much like a classic car or a piece of vintage jewellery that you just can’t bear to part with, a well tailored garment is something to cherish. Whether young or old, female or male it will forever be a go-to piece that will never let you down. The joy of bespoke is just as exciting, personal and fulfilling today as it was yesterday and will remain to be for many centuries to come.