All in a Row
Bennett Winch’s successful segue onto Savile Row proves the street is as much about mindset as menswear.
MEN'S STYLE WRITER, RICHARD BROWN
Here, in no particular order, is a list of things that have supposedly sounded the death knell of Savile Row since I’ve been writing about men’s clothes: changing dress codes, casual Fridays, sportswear, streetwear, loungewear, the burgeoning success of ready-to-wear, the influx of ‘brands’ (how dare they!), Chinese venture capitalists, a global pandemic, unscrupulous landlords, tourism taxes and, hold on to your bowler hats, Abercrombie & Fitch.
Which is strange. Because during that time, it seems as though Savile Row has never not been having a moment. The past few years have seen Drake’s, The Deck and Hackett all open super-spec flagships on the street. Thom Sweeney moved into a four-storey townhouse just around the corner. In May 2023, the thoroughfare played host to Concours on Savile Row, a free-to-attend, two-day celebration of classic cars and tailoring.
Other recent openings mean that it’s now possible to get a decent coffee (The Service, Number 19) and a slap-up meal (Sartoria, Number 20) before your fitting for that bespoke Loro Piana tracksuit (Clothsurgeon, Number 40; go easy on the fettuccine at lunch). If rumours are to be believed, Sartoria will soon be joined by a new, two-storey venture from Jason Atherton. Expect it to become the hottest ticket in town.
Savile Row has long been a place of renegades and revolutionaries. From Edward Sexton and Tommy Nutter in the sixties, to Ozwald Boateng and Richard James in the nineties. In more recent years, Daisy Knatchbull, Kathryn Sargent and Phoebe Gormley changed the game completely by introducing women’s tailoring to the Row.
Still, it was with deference to the street’s traditional tailoring past that Bennett Winch opened as the street’s first luggage maker in 2022. “Our approach from day one was utter respect,” says Co-founder Robin Winch. “We knew the Row was renowned for having some of the best craftspeople on the planet. Presumably, there would be some tailors who – quite understandably – were going to be nervous at best, and fiercely opposed to us at worst.” Winch needn’t have worried.
Huntsman has been stationed on Savile Row since 1919. The company’s online Cloth Library is the most comprehensive collection of fabric in the world. “Having Bennett Winch as neighbours has been hugely beneficial,” says Managing Director, Taj Phull. “The ability to share well-made products with someone over the road has been a breath of fresh air; exactly the sort of thing Savile Row needed following the pandemic – Negronis on a Friday night have also been a most welcome addition.”
Bennett Winch decided not to launch with a flashy party packed with celebrities. Mainly, because that’s not what they’re about. But also because Winch and his co-founders wanted to meet their neighbours in person, one-to-one.
“The Bennett Winch team are lovely and have a great product,” says Dominic Sebag-Montefiore, Creative Director at Edward Sexton. “They really appreciate the culture and values of Savile Row. I hoped the brand would draw to the street a client who might not know so much about bespoke tailoring, and that’s certainly been the case.” Sebag-Montefiore says he’s already grown fond of sharing design ideas and drinks with the team, which seems to be something of an emerging trend.
Our neighbours – Edward Sexton shop interior (left), Huntsman's head cutter and creative director, Campbell Carey (middle) and the Scabal shopfront (right)
“My first reaction to hearing that Bennett Winch was moving to the Row was ‘cool, something new and exciting,’” says Tommy Raban, suiting and fabric specialist at Scabal, which supplied the cloth used to make the fuchsia-pink double-breasted jacket Daniel Craig wore to the premiere of No Time to Die.
“Every Bennett Winch product is made by hand in England. The company can trace each step of its production process, from start to finish. It’s the same story with a bespoke suit. In that sense, we’re not very different at all.”
Savile Row isn’t about suits and swatches. It’s a cohort of like-minded manufacturers committed to doing things properly for
a discerning clientele who appreciate precious things. As Tommy Raban puts it: “Everyone on the Row offers different styles and designs, but, fundamentally, we’re a community. The Bennett Winch boys have become good friends – and that’s the most important thing about this street.”