There aren’t many tailors that have a 250-page biography written about them, but then, there aren’t many tailors with a history as impressive as Henry Poole & Co’s.
In James Sherwood’s new 250-page tome, he sets out a strong case for the company: “Savile Row’s story is one of survival of the fittest, and Henry Poole & Co is the only firm in the Row to be owned by direct descendants of the family who founded the company.”
Sadly we don’t have 250 pages to dedicate to the tailor here – if that’s your shtick, then The First Tailor of Savile Row is available for £35 from all good bookstores. Instead, we’re going on a whistle-stop tour (should that be whistle-shop tour?) of Henry Poole’s most significant suits and cloths from the ages.
This year, Poole’s is marking the 200th anniversary of opening its first bank account with Coutts by co-designing a special new cloth. As you would expect, it’s suitably City inspired: a sky blue double pinstripe. No doubt this will enter the company’s annals – joining these other iconic Poole’s cloths…
170th Anniversary Cloth
Established by military tailor James Poole in 1806, the firm’s fortunes were made during the Napoleonic wars. James’s son Henry inherited the company in 1846 and was the first bespoke tailoring house to open a grand new premises with an entrance on Savile Row.
In honour of the brand’s 170th anniversary on the Row, it created a luxurious black/blue spot super 100s worsted cloth – ideal for that sharp business look and a perfect weight to wear throughout the year. It’s modelled here by some chap called David Gandy – we reckon he’s going places.
Winston Churchill Chalk Stripe
Britain’s most famous prime minister, Sir Winston Churchill, was a customer of Henry Poole & Co from 1903 until the outbreak of the second world war.
He was introduced to the house by his father Sir Randolph Churchill, another notable customer.
In 2007, Poole’s invited Fox Brothers Ltd to weave a grey chalk stripe flannel. The inspiration for this cloth came from the image of Sir Winston Churchill wearing his Henry Poole grey chalk stripe suit holding a Tommy gun [right]. This cloth, exclusive to Henry Poole, is fondly named The Churchill.
Photograph by Capt. Horton/ Imperial War Museums via Getty Images
William Randolph Hearst Jnr 10oz super 100s and cashmere
American publishing dynasty the Hearst Corporation shares more than a century of history with Henry Poole & Co. Founder William Randolph Hearst placed his first order in 1888, a year after he took control of the San Francisco Examiner and revolutionised tabloid journalism with his sensational approach to news and entertainment.
He proceeded to build the largest newspaper and magazine empire in the world and was American’s most influential media tycoon for the first half of the 20th century.
When Hearst died in 1951 he was succeeded as editor-in-chief of Hearst Newspapers by his second son William Randolph Hearst Jr. In 1955, his interview with Soviet First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev won the Pulitzer Prize.
As an homage to both father and son, Poole’s asked British mill Bower Roebuck to weave a 10oz blue/grey super 100s and cashmere chalk stripe cloth inspired by a 1938 photograph of Hearst Jr posed in his office. Hearst Jr was a customer of Poole’s until his death aged 85 in 1993.
Many people think the Prince of Wales design originates from Edward VII with his classic black and white check; the fact is that it dates back to the 1800s Glen check derived from the valley of Glenurquhart in Inverness-shire.
In 1840, Caroline Countess of Seafield adopted this pattern for the Seafield Estate. On visits to Castle Grant, the Seafield’s Estate at Grantham-on-Spey, a young Edward VII was attracted to this design and adapted it to his own specifications, thus creating the famous black and white large Glen check which later became known as the Prince of Wales check.
Poole’s has rejuvenated this classic design using a mid grey 10oz super 120s and cashmere linked with a deep rich burgundy overcheck to complement the black/burgundy lining and Henry Poole classic burgundy tie.
The Henry Poole House Check
In 1989 Angus Cundey, chairman of Henry Poole and Cameron Buchanan, managing director of Harrisons of Edinburgh, created a distinctive new 13/14oz check tweed for Henry Poole & Co.
The design, subsequently registered exclusively to the tailor, was immediately popular and came to be known as the Henry Poole House Check.
For AW14, Poole’s re-weaved the design into a more versatile 11/12oz lambswool, while retaining the olive and beige background, overlaid with the blues and red checks that made the original design so popular. And that’s Henry Poole & Co – moving with the times yet maintaining tradition.
For more information visit, henrypoole.com
'Henry Poole & Co: The First Tailor of Savile Row' by James Sherwood is available from all good bookstores.