Savile Row. The name of the street is reminiscent of an unwavering, high level of standards – make no mistake. Collars must be crisp. Lapels must swoop cleanly. There is a right way to fold the trousers and a wrong way. It is this pursuit of excellence that has earned Savile Row its reputation. After all, suits can be made anywhere, but to have a Savile Row garment is truly special.
Its unwavering standard over the years has lent itself to a few true and tested industry secrets. This is how Savile Row takes care of their clothing.
Beware the Moths – The Right Way to Store Clothing
One of the biggest peeves on Savile Row is a very small pest. Moths can damage clothing by laying eggs on cloth. When these eggs hatch, the larvae then eat away at the fabric. Imagine picking up your favourite suit only to discover that it is full of holes.
This is so much of a problem that a notable Savile Row house has a yearly routine of spraying all its premises with anti-moth chemicals. However, the best preventive measure is to store garments, such as suits, jacket, and coats in protective garment bags. But a Savile Row tailor will tell you that best garment bags are ones that can breathe, and these are not likely to be ones that you get from the dry cleaners. Cheaper bags often use synthetic materials like plastic and nylon which are not breathable.
Instead, opt a garment bag that uses a cloth say, cotton. Our pick is the Signature Garment Bag from Arterton, which is composed of wax cotton that cleverly repels larger water droplets but allows smaller air molecules to freely pass. Indeed, Arterton supplies custom garment bags to over half of Savile Row.
Another neat feature of the Signature Garment Bag is to be able to store three garments at once. The unique double zip opening allows for these garments to be inserted and retrieved more easily. Foldable, and useful for travel, this is Square Mile’s pick for best garment bag.
Hang it The Nakata Way
It wouldn’t be a surprise to hear that Savile Row is particularly fussed about the type of hanger. “A good hanger can elongate the life of a suit.” says Matthew Gonzalez, a Savile Row cutter. “It supports the shoulders and allows the cloth to drape naturally without being pinched or creased”.
Too long and the hanger protrudes onto the seams. Too short, and the shoulder becomes unsupported and drops down. Overtime, this can change the shape of your jacket. The basic rule is you want a nice thick hanger that emulates natural human curvature.
The Savile Row standard is the Nakata AUT-05, which is available in three sizes. The hanger is hand-carved in Japan and coincidentally also supplied by Arterton – the leading supplier to Savile Row.
But what about trousers? Joe Morgan of Chittleborough & Morgan is known to prefer clamp-style trousers hangers because they allow for the full weight of the trousers to pull out wrinkles which accumulate throughout the day. The Nakata ones are designed to have enough clearance so that the clamp can be placed under the cuff, thereby avoiding indentation of the turnups.
Thes Nakata hangers are seen with Mr. Jeremy Hackett – founder of the Hackett brand. Nakata hangers are also used by Hackett’s, 14 Savile Row, bespoke division.
Pressing and Cleaning
The first step to cleaning is, of course, to use a good garment brush. Savile Row tailors never use lint rollers, as these can take away material and leave a sticky residue on the surface.
Secondly, be wary of dry cleaning and steaming. This is because jackets have a canvas, which needs to be cared for. Often times, dry cleaning uses harsh chemicals that can be damaging to the cloth. Moreover, most dry-cleaning processes do little to remove human moisture. Instead, we recommend that, should a suit be cleaned, that it should be sponged and pressed. This process involves water, which adequately absorbs and helps remove most human moisture.
However, the pressing is more technical than you think. A skilled presser will need to pay attention to the lapel and give it shape in the way that the original cutter of the suit intended. This requires a bit of experience – where is the eye drawn, and how is the lapel supposed to naturally roll. As George Varnava of The Valet (5 Piccadilly Arcade) explains: “Handmade suits have a 3D shape that needs to be protected by hand-pressing… the amount of work that goes in to creating that shape by the cutters and the makers, really needs good maintenance to preserve over the long life of a high-quality suit.”
The reputation of Savile Row draws those with a discerning eye. It is this discernment that allows the British tradition, unwavering standards, and quality to be appreciated. So, the next time you wear your best loved garment, consider how the very best would take care of it.