Discussions about where to get the best bespoke suits tend to gravitate toward certain points. One of these locations is Savile Row in London, long identified as a haven for tailoring masterpieces. Anderson & Sheppard has the requisite factors in claiming heritage. It has the history, having been established in 1906; it also has the clientele, as it is known to have dressed royalty such as Prince Charles who favored double-breasted suits.
As a testament to their skill, even other renowned suit-makers such as Valentino have been spotted in an Anderson & Sheppard. The late designer Alexander McQueen even honed his skills in tailoring when he was in his teens by training at the Anderson & Sheppard workroom.
Anderson & Sheppard has been around long enough to develop a distinct style. The signature cut of their suits evolved from the desire to provide comfort. Suits are known to have naturally, soft-sloping shoulders with a small armhole cut high. The upper sleeves are looser than what is usually expected, a technique employed to make sure that the collar stays close to the neck. The larger cut of the sleeves also makes it easier for the wearer of the suit to move.
The curve of the Anderson & Sheppard lapel is known to be broad at the peak, featuring a slight bend to help it keep its shape longer. Suits do not have unnecessary seams, in order to allow the fabric to fall and drape naturally. The effect of this brand of tailoring is more apparent in cloths that feature stripes and other patterns, as there is little interruption in the alignment of the print.
At a time when most of the Savile Row shops opted to take on a more youthful, trendier route, Anderson & Sheppard held its ground. It does not advertise, nor does it offer ready to wear. This does not mean, however, that the company has remained stagnant in the face of change. Anderson & Sheppard has also become more accessible, without compromising its heritage. Clients, no matter how influential, still cannot request to be fitted anywhere outside the designated points indicated by the company. But, the workroom in the London shop has been opened in recent years so that customers can come close and observe the work being done. This allows for a more active participation by clients, such as choosing the buttons that they fancy.
The typical Anderson & Sheppard patron represents the biggest shift. Clients have become younger, often in their thirties. There are also more international customers, driven in part by the company’s greater online presence with the launching of their website in 2007, and their production of a three-minute short film expounding on their craft. These are not accidental: Anderson & Sheppard believes that it is important to make their heritage and link to the famous Savile Row known.
How to get a suit
In order to get an Anderson & Sheppard suit, a client can walk into the London shop, enjoy a cup of complimentary coffee, and browse through the books of cloth samples kept on hand. Client advisors guide clients, especially those who are ordering a suit for the first time, in deciding the final product. Usually, the adviser would ask the client what the typical weather is like and where the suit will be worn, to gather clues on the style that is most appropriate.
Aside from the cut of the suit and the fabric choice, other details of the suit may also be discussed. Clients can choose features such as the type of lining or number of pockets the suit should have. Some clients have even requested for the suit to be lined with an Hermes scarf. Once these details have been finalized, the client’s measurements (27 on the upper body, and seven on the lower body) are taken down and written on a proper form.
A cutter then comes in to draft the pattern lines on brown paper. Then the lines are traced on the cloth. Master tailors are known to draw the lines freehand. It is a skill culled from experience. Then the cloth is cut. In the hands of a master tailor, a jacket can be cut in less than an hour. A few weeks later, a fitting with the client is arranged where measurements are taken again, and adjustments are marked using tailor's chalk. First-time clients can expect an average of three fittings before their suits are perfected.
No appointment is necessary when visiting the London shop. Manila clients may opt to visit the US in order to purchase an Anderson & Sheppard suit. Teams are sent to the US twice a year, in the spring and in autumn. In this instance, new customers are encouraged to set up an appointment for initial measurements, and then a fitting of the suit six months after. Each appointment lasts 30 minutes and can be set up from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a break from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. All suits are made in the London shop.
Photographs from the Official Website of Anderson & Sheppard
For more information on Anderson & Shepard, visit their website. This piece originally came out in Issue 4, 2011 of Vault.
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