There's quite a row on Savile Row over the UK Advertising Standards Authority's brand new ruling that suits which are not entirely handmade may now be sold as "bespoke." It has horrified some Savile Row stalwarts who've long fought to protect their trade from such encroachments; late last year tailor's guild the Savile Row Bespoke Association (SRBA) trademarked the term "Savile Row Bespoke" to prevent parvenus from taking unfair advantage. According to the SRBA's guidelines, to qualify as bespoke a suit must be crafted from a choice of at least 2,000 fabrics and its construction requires at least 50 hours of hand-stitching.
However, SRBA board member Anda Rowland, owner of storied 100-year-old Row house Anderson & Sheppard, tells Luxist she is taking the philosophical view. While lamenting the ruling's implied lack of respect for Britain's tailoring trade, to her way of thinking a fellow who would be content with a faux-Row suit merely made-to-measure was "never a true bespoke customer in the first place" she tells us, while any connoisseur "will ultimately be able to spot the difference between true bespoke tailoring and incorrectly labeled imitations." In the meantime, made-to-measure garments, no matter what they're sold as, can continue to serve their proper purpose: "providing a bridge from ready-to-wear to bespoke."
For those seeking sartorial enlightenment, Rowland notes the SRBA has launched a website, savilerowbespoke.com, to help them on their path to proper tailoring. In addition, when Anderson & Sheppard moved into its new premises at 32 Old Burlington Street, Rowland says, "we opened up our workrooms especially to confront the confusion that potential customers might have over the increasing number of terms being used to describe made-to-measure... Since moving, we have been welcoming more and more first time customers who have done research through word of mouth, reputable press and the Internet and therefore have a very good idea of why they have come to us." No mere ruling no matter how barmy will change that.
Pictured above is Savile Row maverick Ozwald Boateng. See the gallery for more.
Gallery: Savile Row Style