Stretching in front of you is a sea of humanity, music fans basking in the early evening sunshine. Above you on the bill: the one and only Bruce Springsteen. The question is: what to wear? Luckily, Starsailor frontman James Walsh, who plays this weekend at Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park, could call on Savile Row tailor Ray Stowers for some expert advice.
“It’s a good buzz to know that I’ve got something unique,” says Walsh, as we catch up with him for some last-minute adjustments to his new stage jacket at the Stowers store on Savile Row. James’ bespoke creation is military in origin - a short mess jacket in black that’s been personalised with red piping and a Lancashire Rose motif on the cuff and buttons.
The jacket, which will make its stage debut this Sunday, is the result of four visits to the Stowers store: measurement, fitting, advanced fitting and now finish. “I went through a long period of being obsessed with epaulettes,” confesses the Chorley-born singer, who is now a regular visitor having caught the bespoke bug.
“Ray made me a similar jacket with gold piping on the lapels and since I got it I just don’t feel right going on stage without it. I realised it was time for me to step it up style-wise. I’d worn black for years, and in particular a favourite Dior jacket. Maybe I’d spent too long being in a band with a bunch of piss-taking northerners.”
Starsailor’s new single “All The Plans”, which features Ronnie Wood on guitar, was released last week, and is the title track of the band’s fourth album. “We supported the Stones in Germany a couple of years back,” recalls James, “and Ronnie watched us from the wings a few times. It was great when he agreed to guest on the album. It all came together really quickly.”
Stowers, who spent 25 years at Gieves & Hawkes, founded Stowers Bespoke with a vision of reinvigorating authentic bespoke tailoring. Inspired by Tommy Nutter, who changed the face of Savile Row tailoring in the 1960s and 70s (making pieces for The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Elton John, among others), Stowers has dressed Damon Albarn, Jonny Quinn of Snow Patrol and Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole, who wore a grey Stowers three-piece for his recent Hello wedding.
Stowers Bespoke products are available from Ray Stowers’ showroom at 13 Savile Row, by appointment only.