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2 days ago

Savile Row Tailor Richard Anderson on Outfitting New York

We catch up with Savile Row tailor Richard Anderson before his US trunk show in New York City.

By Toby Louch

Ascending the steps up to Richard Anderson’s tailoring house at 13 Savile Row is to realize what modern British tailoring has become. Wood-paneled walls and thick green carpets, accented by tattered rugs and taxidermy are nowhere to be seen. Having first opened its doors in 2001, any attempt to recreate the aged gentleman’s club aesthetic — which can be enjoyed at numerous other Savile Row establishments — would seem at best playing it safe, at worst fraudulent.

Anderson began his working life on Savile Row at the age of 17 as an apprentice at Huntsman, before rising through the ranks and becoming ‘The Row’s’ youngest head cutter in history. While his only bricks-and-mortar store sits on Savile Row, Richard Anderson has developed an international following by setting up trunk shows across the world, one of which will soon arrive in New York.

His daughter Molly is currently leading a trunk show on a tour across the US — a tri-annual excursion — she will soon be joined by Anderson in New York City at The Carlyle,  A Rosewood Hotel, where the bespoke outfitters sets up shop May 29 through June 1. I had been invited to speak with Richard before he heads stateside.

Richard Anderson at home stood at his cutting table / ©Richard Anderson

Clubhouse aesthetic avoided, the interior of Richard Anderson is bright and airy. White walls are broken up by the occasional piece of tasteful modern art, countless paper patterns of previous customers and a wide array of garments.

While irrefutably a 21st-century tailor, you would be wrong to take Richard Anderson’s fresh look as shorthand for inexperience. These walls are propped up by over a century of graft, a lifetime of experience garnered at the cutting tables of this short historic street in London’s Mayfair. Richard and his business partner Brian Lishak boast over 110 years on The Row between them.  

The bespoke suitmakers that line either side of Savile Row are seen by many as unrivaled when it comes to quality. Those looking for formal clothing, particularly in the quintessentially English form — broad padded shoulders, high armholes, tailored close to the body — needn’t look anywhere else.

It’s a treat for those living in London or its orbit, but pretty limiting for everyone else. Or it would be if it wasn’t for a Richard Anderson trunk show.  

Trunk show 101  

Molly and Richard Anderson / ©Richard Anderson

“Traveling to America is a big part of our business,” Anderson told Elite Traveler, “We visit three times a year: January, May and September, and we set up shop in various locations. In New York we take a suite at The Carlyle. I’ve been staying there for around 35 years.”

These trunk shows allow American customers to get the full in-person Richard Anderson experience, without needing to catch a flight to the UK. Patterns (sheets of paper cut to match the proportions of an individual), fittings, accessories and garments are all sent to the locations beforehand. Customers then book 30-minute appointments to peruse the wares, make selections and get fitted by Richard or his daughter. Then everything gets shipped back to Savile Row, where Anderson works on the orders.

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He says: “The Carlyle’s a great spot in New York on the Upper East Side. It’s where a lot of our clients are based so it works perfectly for us. Customers are looking for the classic British Savile Row look, because America hasn’t got anything like us. It’s a combination of factors, the tradition, the quality of the work, the service and the quality of the make.

“The other thing customers are always on the hunt for is something new. What new fabrics have you got? What are you working on? We arrive at every trunk show with something new: fabric, design, accessory… there’s always something.”

It’s clear that even in an industry as deeply rooted in tradition as Savile Row tailoring, the desire to move forward, innovating and tweaking classics remains strong. It’s this blend of tradition with a dash of modernity where Richard Anderson has staked its claim.    

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Customers for life

Richard Anderson customers return due to quality, detail and service / ©Richard Anderson

In the world of bespoke tailoring, repeat customers are the name of the game. Over time, individuals build a strong relationship with their tailor, who can make informed recommendations about future garments.

“In New York this year, over the four days we are there, we will probably see around 30 customers,” says Anderson. “Of those 30, we would hope three to four would be new customers, the rest will be returning. It’s all about word of mouth, it’s more than likely that the first-time customers will have heard about us from one of our regulars. I took an order from a chap this morning who I have known for 40 years. We’re lucky, we have a very loyal customer base.”

Humble to the hilt, Anderson seems fully aware that luck bears no influence in why his customers continue to return. It’s the level of quality, detail and service he provides that so few others can.

The pattern — effectively a paper template of a customer’s proportions — is constantly being updated. “Each time I see a customer it gets tweaked slightly and in theory, over time it gets better and better,” says Anderson. “It’s not just about taking the measurements, I am also looking at their figuration, which is how they stand. Is one shoulder sloped down? Does the head tilt slightly? How do their feet sit at rest?”

Over time, Anderson is not only developing a greater understanding of his customers’ bodies but also their personalities. It’s this level of understanding between tailor and customer that for many, can act as the great differentiator and the reason why the extra cost of bespoke is worth it.

[See also: Mr Porter Launches New Mental Health Collection]

The ever-changing state of The Row

Throughout Anderson’s years on the Row, there has been considerable change / ©Richard Anderson

It’s impossible to spend even five minutes with someone that holds the experience of Anderson without discussing how Savile Row has changed since he started back in 1982. “There’s less true tailors,” Anderson says plainly.

Having learned his trade at Huntsman — about as traditional as it gets — Anderson clearly holds a lot of respect for things being done properly. Over the years, several tailors on The Row have closed for business and been replaced by what could be described as not true tailors in the traditional sense.

The pandemic hit this industry particularly hard. Today, the stalwarts of Savile Row find themselves surrounded on all sides, by lower-quality, non-bespoke outfitters looking to muscle in on the cultural cache of The Row.

“Across the board, we are also seeing people want much lighter-weight fabrics,” says Anderson. “When I started at Huntsman it was all 18, 19, 20-ounce suits and 25-ounce tweeds. Now the world is warming up and people’s habits are changing, so lighter weight fabrics have come to the fore.”

When it comes to suiting, the weight of a fabric can totally change the garment. The drape and how it sits on the body, lighter fabrics move in the wind, crease easier and so on. This is something Savile Row has had to adapt to.

Additionally, when it comes to keeping cool, fabric weight can make things a little confusing, “It’s all a bit of a fallacy,” says Anderson. “We do our own 18-ounce suits here, which is a heavy dense fabric, but it’s not warm to wear. I could put you in a 12-ounce flannel that would feel much hotter. How the fabric is woven has a big impact.”

Suitable for the future

“As long as Savile Row maintains its quality it should thrive” / ©Richard Anderson

At the forefront of an industry that is so steeped in tradition, Anderson understands that to continue his success, it’s important to keep a keen eye on the future. “The most important thing is that we maintain the quality of the work, the cut and the service,” says Anderson.

“Downstairs, we have started doing more casual, ready-to-wear, in addition to dressing gowns and sweaters. The key is that the quality is still excellent, as long as Savile Row maintains that quality aspect it should thrive, if it doesn’t, it won’t.”

On my way out back onto the street, I peer back through the glass storefront. The letters of Richard Anderson sit proudly above the large display window. His head down, Richard is already back at the cutting table, working away at his next task. I try to think of any other luxury store where you will find the person whose name sits above the door, working inside. I couldn’t. That’s the difference.

Richard Anderson will join his daughter Molly for the final stop on the May trunk show in New York at The Carlyle, May 29 to June 1. Appointments can be made by emailing Brian Lishak at

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