How heritage brands in Mayfair are adapting and evolving to modern day needs.
By Sophia Charalambous
Heritage is at the heart of the Mayfair landscape.
Since the first “May Fair” dating back to the late seventeenth century, the area has been a destination for shopping.
Some of the world’s oldest fashion brands exist within this coveted square of central London, and have been here since their inception.
But in order to stay relevant an evolution has to occur – in other words adapting to the changing environment.
Only recently the Office for National Statistics (ONS) noted the removal of the suit from the consumer basket, and replaced it in the basket by a formal jacket and blazer.
The quest for more informal pieces has grown year-on-year and accelerated by the pandemic.
Lock & Co, the world’s oldest hat shop, are constantly reinventing classic pieces for men and women.
Buyer Yajaira Ysabel De Ornelas tells Mayfair Times: “When looking to incorporate new lines into our product portfolio It’s important to introduce modern shapes, whilst remaining classic and British at the same time.
“For example, for SS22 we have introduced a range of unisex Bucket hats and baseball caps, these styles have proved popular with our younger customers due to the rise of athleisure within the fashion industry, as well there being a distinct sense of nostalgia for all things 90s.”
Advancements in technology, particularly with materials, has also led to changes within the realm of heritage.
Yajaira adds: “As consumer demands shift and technologies advance, it’s crucial we also incorporate new materials into the collection such as the UPF fabric, new for this spring summer.
“UPF fabric is an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) treatment applied to the fabric that increases the ability of the material to prevent the sun’s harmful UV radiation.
“This is achieved by adding special chemistry to the yarn itself, altering the weight or density of the fabric’s construction.
“This is something we will continue to explore as technologies develop.”
Henry Poole, the oldest tailor on Savile Row, and the inventor of the dinner jacket, has also been inspired by modern materials, creating the Travel Trench with an archive design but with Gore-Tex Infininum Windstopper technology to improve it with water-resistant, breathable characteristics.
Alex Cooke, Managing Director and Cutter at Henry Poole adds: “The properties that Gore-Tex technologies provide – they’re the best on the market and the best brand partner to work with if we really want to push ourselves.”
The result is a coat that takes gentlemen’s tailoring into the modern realm but staying true to the heritage of Henry Poole.
As a heritage brand there are other ways, other than high-tech textiles, to carve out a place in the contemporary scene.
Collaborations with artists, luxury brands or other fashion houses continue to grow year-on-year.
This year we’ve seen iconic shoe brands Manolo Blahnik and Birkenstock team up for an exclusive range of ultra glamorous orthopaedic shoes, and heritage luggage brand Rimowa teaming with Porsche to create the hand-carry case Pepita, paying homage to both brands’ most iconic design elements.
Fifth generation family owned Barbour, founded in 1894, began by supplying oilskins to the fishermen and mariners in South Shields, and have evolved into a global brand collaborating with designers for unique collections, including Margaret Howell to ALEXACHUNG, House of Hackney and Ally Capellino.
Ian Bergin – Director of Menswear, Footwear and Accessories at Barbour said: “Collaborations are important because they can attract new customers who may not have previously considered Barbour, they create newness and excitement for our existing customers and they can have a positive effect on how customers think and feel about the brand.
“Collaborations offer a different take on Barbour’s heritage and it’s always interesting to work with new partners and to see how they interpret our archive.”
Department store Liberty, which was founded in 1875 selling ornaments, fabric and objets d'art from Japan and the East, has collaborated with some of the biggest brands around including streetwear brands from Nike to Supreme and The North Face.
Another approach for some traditional menswear Mayfair establishments is to expand their range and introduce womenswear.
Budd Shirtmakers, founded in 1910, is known for their bespoke, made-to-measure and ready-to-wear shirts from its shop in Piccadilly Arcade.
They launched Bailey X Budd in 2020, a womenswear range created by friends and collaborators Laura Bailey and stylist, Cathy Kasterine, which offers a “borrowed from the boys” aesthetic.
Chairman Stephen Murphy said of the partnership: “Laura and Cathy have a great eye and great style. “They celebrate classics but bring a contemporary twist to them, perfectly epitomising the timeless essence of a good shirt.
“They have been very successful in distilling what makes a great men’s shirt into invaluable and effortless women’s pieces that are conceived to become classics in their own right.
“We have made women’s shirts and nightwear at Budd over the years, but Bailey x Budd helped cement our reputation.”
Budd realises that for the future, their online platform must improve to make Made to Measure shirts more interactive and less intimidating.
Stephen adds: “We are also looking more into how we wear shirts today and the role they play.
“One of the beautiful aspects of bespoke is that it has changed so little over the years and will change so little.
“Digitalising shirt swatches and being able to see customers online makes a difference, but inherently, we are about preservation and sticking with what works and the slow fashion, quality driven work that comes with bespoke.”
However there are some companies hoping to adopt a more in-person service, particularly in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Savile Row Company has closed its Savile Row location to open a purpose-built showroom offering customers the ability to try on its online ranges in the Coach & Horses Yard around the corner.
The 84-year-old company at Savile House will provide an appointment-based, try-on service, alongside bespoke apparel fittings and the opportunity to purchase short-run garments for those wanting to buy on the spot.
Jeffrey Doltis, managing director, said: “With our new showroom, we are delighted to be giving our customers the chance to really get to know our products.
“Selling online-only can make it hard to really appreciate the quality of our garments, so it’s great to finally be able to put our products in customers’ hands before they make a purchase.”
Main image: Barbour Ferncliff Wax
3 fashion houses new to Mayfair that are determined to ensure traditional techniques never get lost
Considered one of the best female tailors and among the most respected designers on the Row, Caroline Andrew makes sure to use modern technology to converse with her clients, using technology to showcase suits and shirts to check the fits. However the modern, minimalist suits she makes are very much in keeping with Savile Row cutting and tailoring techniques.
11 St George Street
Acre & Row
Acre & Row, created by tailor Dav Sehra in 2020, offers a mix of ready-to-wear and made-to-measure relaxed tailoring and hard working wardrobe staples, and inspired by British tailoring, the unconstructed Italian fit and 1920’s Ivy League styling. “Typically, Acre & Row clients are looking for well thought-out, timeless garments that are versatile enough to take them from work to weekend,” says Dav, “everything in our collection is designed and crafted to be worn and loved for years to come.”
32 Savile Row
Since its launch in 2019, Daisy Knatchbull, founder & CEO The Deck, has focussed on creating fine tailoring suits that celebrate the strength, confidence and empowerment of women in their everyday lives as a made-to-measure tailoring house, for women by women. The brand moved to Savile Row in September 2020 and all the styles, named after a deck of cards, are customisable including the cloth, linings, buttons, monogramming and styling details.
19 Savile Row