Menswear | November 18, 2020 6:33 am

Savile Row Turns to Modern Tech to Survive the Pandemic

Tailors are forced to find new ways to fit clients

Savile Row
How will London's legendary Savile Row survive the pandemic?
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Retail stores in general have suffered a huge financial hit as a result of the pandemic, but — as you might imagine — it’s even worse for London’s legendary Savile Row, where world-famous bespoke suits typically require several in-person measurements and fittings. But as a new piece in the New York Times reveals, many of the tailors who work out of the iconic street have been forced to adapt to stay alive.

The article paints a grim picture of how travel restrictions have kneecapped the industry. “This grounding is a fiasco for Savile Row tailors,” it reads. “They typically spend nearly as much time flying around the world, fitting clients, as they do cutting and sewing. For many houses, 70 percent of revenue comes from these overseas trunk shows. With tailors stuck in their shops, and London tourism in free-fall, the most famous men’s clothing street in the world is gasping for life.”

Add to that the fact that fewer people are wearing suits these days in general, thanks to evolving fashion trends and the fact that most of us are currently working from home in sweats, and it’s clear these are dark times for Savile Row.

“Our company lived through the Boer War, World War I, the Depression, World War II, recessions,” Simon Cundey, the managing director of Henry Poole & Co., told the publication. “But through all of these crises, we could visit our customers and they could visit us. This is a tragedy on a different scale.”

To cope, many have begun doing Zoom fittings or using robots to remotely take measurements of clients. “I was skeptical when I first heard the idea,” Dario Carnera, a tailor for Huntsman who has relied on robot fittings during the pandemic. “I’m very traditional. I work with a pair of shears that are about a hundred years old. But the bottom line is that we had to do something.”

Tradition is mostly the name of the game on the iconic street. But for a stretch of London that has already survived pandemics and world wars, hope is high that this current crisis will leave Saville Row the center of British suit making.

You can read the full article here.