Savile Row Style – Welcome to the Future
From a 1st floor showroom on London’s Savile Row, Cad & The Dandy bring a fresh edge to the usually buttoned-up world of British Tailoring. But, do this dynamic duo measure up? Nick Constance holds the tape.
An ill-bred man, especially one who behaves dishonourably, or irresponsibly, towards women.
Dandy (noun. pl. dan·dies)
A man who affects extreme elegance in clothes and manners; a fop.
It’s traditionally held that a well-cut, handmade suit makes a man look thinner, walk taller, think quicker and smile more readily.
A slight exaggeration, perhaps, but there is a grain of truth in this lofty proclamation. And it now seems the world has cottoned on to the transformative power of a sharp, handmade suit.
Perhaps Ian Meiers and James Sleater had this in mind when they founded London-based tailor Cad & The Dandy in late 2008. The duo launched the company by opening in the City, offering a fresh approach to the ultra-conventional world of tailoring. June 2013 saw them move into new premises at 13 Savile Row.
Anything but conventional, both Ian and James are warm and friendly, springing up to shake hands with a generous smile. After the formalities (and tea) we get down to business.
“The suit is no longer a uniform”, says Meiers. “It’s an element of fashion and fun and we want to make the process of having a suit made as enjoyable as possible, preferably without the jargon and gibberish”. Undoubtedly, it’s this jargon that can make the process so impenetrable for the average punter.
So what does the term bespoke actually mean?
Well, it means a few dollars more, for one thing. The first thing you learn about bespoke anything, is that it’s pricey…for a reason. A fully bespoke suit is traditionally cut from a pattern drafted from scratch for the customer, and so differs vastly from ready-to-wear, which is factory made and comes in standard sizes. First off, in order to create a client’s bespoke pattern, up to 30 measurements are taken. Using these measurements, your tailor will painstakingly begin piecing together a suit that is uniquely yours.
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The individual sections are loosely sewn, or tacked (basted.) A first fitting then takes place so any necessary adjustments can be made to the garment and also transferred to the pattern for future use. A fully bespoke suit will be entirely hand-sewn to create incredible shape and durability, defining the ultimate silhouette… your silhouette. All buttonholes, top-stitching, and lining are then sewn by hand for a truly bespoke finish.
The process is complex and therein lies the magic. In a sea of mass produced factory tat, people are now starting to look for quality. We’re tired of the mass, of seeing the same clothes in ever store, in every high street. So, whether it’s suits, shoes, hats, or bags, today’s discerning buyer is starting to ask questions. A gentleman needs be at ease in the world and a well-cut suit is critical to our ability to function and feel at our very best.
So, what of the new guard? Who’s producing our suits of the future? Well, Cad & The Dandy are making a good fist of dragging Savile Row into the digital age. Gone are the antiquated ideas of service. The old notions and concepts have disappeared in favour of a more light-hearted,
transparent approach. Redefining the ethos of Savile Row is a tall order, so I ask what are they doing that other tailors are not?
“Well, for a start”, says Ian, “we heard the other day that one of our competitors was making merry about the fact that they now reach their client base by email. This is incredible. Frankly, their whole marketing department should have been fired by now – if they have one. These days, to be a tailor, you obviously have to know your way around cloth and how the industry works – but you also have to know how to run a brand”. Quite.
Even the name is deliberately, almost provocatively, un-Savile Row. Take a walk down this famous street and you’ll see established names such as Anderson & Sheppard, Gieves & Hawkes, and Henry Poole & Son, names that suggest a rather grand association with the past. Cad & The Dandy are more about the future. They did mention, however, that they felt the names Meiers & Sleater didn’t quite have the requisite ring to it. Whatever the reason for the quirky name it works, it’s memorable.
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This simple, fresh approach has seen the company’s reputation grow, both at home, in Europe and across America, gaining them a discerning clientele who crave the elegance and distinctive fit of a contemporary bespoke suit, whilst still maintaining the traditional
construction elements of a hand-cut garment. With an established team of skilled patterncutters and clued-up, business-savvy staff clients are guaranteed the best possible experience of 21st Century tailoring.
Taking roughly 60 hours, each suit goes through a process of measuring, cutting, basting, construction and adjusting before the final fit. There’s no label (on the outside,) so there’s no kudos from this point of view. But, like expensive underwear, it gives us a thrill just to know
that we’re wearing quality. Nobody needs to know, but the wearer. And this is what Sleater and Meiers are delivering, discreet quality. (No lavish embroideries, or pink buttonholes, here.)
Their sartorial mission began after a chance meeting at a cloth merchant in the North of England. Both Meiers and Sleater are from families steeped in the world of cloth and clothing, but the guys themselves also have a solid background in business. Ian’s mother was a couturier, under the British designer Norman Hartnell – dressmaker to the Queen of England. James’ family, on the other hand, has been in the milling trade for generations.
Cad & The Dandy were also the first tailors on Savile Row to hand weave a cloth (never fabric) on their own premises. The use of the in-house workshop and loom go hand in hand with the company’s desire to reignite a passion for fine tailoring. With an eye on the future, the company has also established an apprenticeship programme, with young, would-be tailors joining Cad & The Dandy’s 22 staff members across its three London locations, Savile Row, Birchin Lane and Canary Wharf.
“We want to remove the perceived mystique behind what we do. We’re looking to make tailoring a viable option for young people again. “It’s a noble profession and we don’t want it dying out to be replaced by computerised manufacturing.”
When asked why they opened a bespoke tailor on the cusp of a recession, James laughed: “It hasn’t been easy. We worked hard to make this happen”. There’s evidence of this hard work all around. Sitting on the sofa, in their Georgian showroom, one can’t help thinking that British tailoring is in pretty safe hands for the next generation. Less than a decade ago the average age around Savile Row was about 60. Apparently it’s now closer to 40.
“When you think of menswear:”, says Sleater, “you think of suits. When you think of suits, you think of Savile Row. We want people to think of Cad & The Dandy when they think of Savile Row.”
So, will a Savile Row suit give you a new level of poise and confidence? Absolutely. Will it get you the job, or the girl? Possibly. Whatever the need – Cad & The Dandy has it all sewn up.
Photo Credit: Lydia Hargrave
A fully bespoke suit from Cad & The Dandy starts at £950.00.