A woman’s suit has long been a symbol of power, style and sophistication. From Marlene Dietrich’s iconic onscreen wardrobe to Yves Saint Laurent’s groundbreaking Le Smoking tuxedo suit, the women’s suit became a highly coveted fashion staple throughout the 20th century and beyond. Today, androgynous fashion maintains its strong footing through Daisy Knatchbull, a connoisseur of women’s tailoring and founder of The Deck.
In 2019, Knatchbull became the first tailor to have a storefront exclusively for women on west London’s renowned Savile Row in Mayfair, known for its traditional bespoke tailoring for men (that is despite it being named after Lady Dorothy Savile, who was revered by London’s artistic and royal circles in 18th-century London).
A brand for savvy women
Knatchbull has already proved The Deck as a resilient brand to watch. Despite opening amid Covid-19, the business has expanded its flagship store into one of the largest shop fronts on London’s tailoring golden mile, with sales doubling year on year.
This year will see Knatchbull bringing the brand to New York in the next phase of expansion via a series of trunk shows, as part of a plot to take her made-to-measure suits transatlantic.
“After the pandemic, we noticed consumers were more mindful of their purchases and were interested in investing in products that were not only durable and timeless, but also eco-friendly,” Knatchbull tells Elite Traveler. “We take pride in offering clothing items that are made of natural fibers, have intricate details, and are crafted by skilled artisans. People wanted to support businesses founded by women and that was really exciting.”
The brand has seen rapid growth and has been conducting regular trunk shows from New York to Palm Beach, with plans to visit LA and Dallas following a stint in Milan in November. Knatchbull has also dropped a ready-to-wear line, suitably named ‘Knatchbull,’ proving the brand’s willingness to evolve without losing sight of its sought-after quality.
“The ready-to-wear collection was born out of listening carefully to our clients’ wants and needs,” says Knatchbull. “We wanted to expand their wardrobe and complement the tailoring we do for them, whether that’s the perfect trench coat, a silk shirt or a jumpsuit to wear under their jackets, and that still upholds all the principles of what we do at The Deck.”
Creating quality and experience
But it’s not just about the quality of The Deck’s pieces. It’s just as much about the unique experience it offers for women, whether they are new to the brand or are regular customers. The inclusive and curated experience amplifies body confidence for women in a world that can so often evoke shame for not fitting a mold, and instead not only embraces that which makes each woman different from one another, but celebrates it too.
“It’s about the process and the relationship you can build with the tailor. When you’re a client, you’re a client for life,” says Knatchbull. “That includes personal invitations to events and exciting things in store or us messaging you when a color we know you love is in, or knowing your favorite coffee order.”
Knatchbull’s vision for the future is to create a wardrobe for the modern woman, taking the stress and the discomfort away from the typical experience, and creating a beautiful one in its place. The Deck is a one-stop shop to master a woman’s every tailoring need, from shirts to jeans to dresses and suits.
A modern tailoring experience
When asked about the new challenges that have arisen in light of the business’ expansion, Knatchbull speaks candidly. Embracing change and evolution has been one of The Deck’s strengths without losing touch with its high quality and customer intimacy, and that seems to hold firm, but it’s faced its challenges.
“With success comes a lot of pain in some way because for us what’s really important is keeping that elevated, wonderfully personalized experience, and that’s always a priority, even as we grow,” she says. “There’s always hiccups along the way. We’re always making sure that we’re always doing the best we can.”
Knatchbull has been busy refashioning the woman’s suit from business attire to a luxurious “modern armor for women of any shape and size.” Having fitted suits for the likes of Gillian Anderson and Elizabeth Hurley, she is changing the game of women’s tailoring, always keeping one step ahead of what’s around the corner.
With the fashion industry trying to meet shifting customer demands of reusability, sustainability and value for money, a luxury suit from The Deck is something to keep for life or even treat as a family heirloom. A unique touch of The Deck’s pieces is the ability to personalize them with printed artwork on the silk or the lining, or even secret messages on the fabric.
The language of building confidence
But it’s not just about the personal touch in the styles, it’s about the unique human touch too. Knatchbull and her all-women team are mastered in the language of building body confidence for women, creating a safe space to ensure women leave a fitting with exactly the size that fits them, not what they’ve had to fit into at the expense of their self-esteem. Using 2,000 data points, all the sizing for the ready-to-wear line was carried out based on real fittings at The Deck with real women.
“I wanted to create something beautiful, that celebrates craftsmanship, women and diversity – in shape, size, race, sexuality, whatever it may be,” attests Daisy. “And celebrates all women – regardless of age, everything – where they can come and feel safe, understood, represented and they can have the best quality cloths and the best craftsmanship but also that won’t be £5,500 ($7,000).”
Breaking the mold
The Deck was born from Knatchbull’s own experience of breaking the mold. In 2016, she was the first woman to wear a top hat and tails at the UK’s most prestigious racing event, Royal Ascot, attracting significant attention from the press.
Having worked her way up through Huntsman’s PR department on Savile Row to communications director, she then spotted a gap in the womenswear market to take her rebellious edge one step further; she dreamed of creating suits for women with the same experience that was currently offered to men.
“I couldn’t understand why they weren’t giving women the same opportunity men had had for centuries,” Knatchbull agonizes. “To have beautiful cloth and designs, but have a woman fit them, and have an empathetic outlet only for women in the same way men had in hundreds of tailors.”
Knatchbull illustrates her vision for The Deck, and the women who wear them, through the lens of a repurposed quote by esteemed American fashion designer Anne Klein: “We always say suits won’t change the world, but the women who wear them will,” says Knatchbull.
“What we’re doing isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s the movement and the beliefs and the empowering nature of what we do that brings that about. It’s a state of mind.”