Tailoring For Grown-Ups

AA Gill on how Anda Rowland transformed a Savile Row institution

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Some achieve tailoring, some have tailoring thrust upon them but Anda Rowland was born into buttons that do up the wrong way. 

Her father, Roland “Tiny” Rowland, liked his suit so much he bought the tailors. Anderson & Sheppard suited him but it doesn’t suit her – they don’t do women. The girl who runs a Savile Row tailors sounds like a Richard Curtis movie. There aren’t many women who would want to spend their days with cutters and finishers but Anda found it a passion, and the Row took to her. She has a high and serious reputation in the closely-fitted bespoke world. Anderson & Sheppard’s particular look is relaxed; what they call soft. A suit should hang naturally and, once you put it on, you shouldn’t notice it again except in the passing compliments of those who see you wearing it.

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Anda has thought for some time there is a lack of complimentary accessories for the sort of men who have their clothes handmade. "There is plenty of very good men’s stuff out there, but it’s generally for a younger, more casual market and the quality isn’t what grown-up men expect." So she opened the haberdashery round the corner in Clifford Street.

"Originally we wanted to make really good trousers," explains Anda, who has implemented a variety of subtle-yet-important changes to reinvigorate her father’s shop. "Men hate buying trousers and end up living in chinos and jeans, so we built changing rooms that are like your dressing room. We also came up with a handful of styles that are both flattering and comfortable, including trousers with a higher waist, which all tailors know do more for your figure than the very low-slung hipsters that children like to wear."

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In 2004, Anda quit her job at Parfums Christian Dior in Paris, moved home and took over the day-to-day running of the shop. Although it boasted a distinguished history – Alexander McQueen first trained there when he was 16 and Ralph Lauren and Tom Ford have come to observe head cutter John Hitchcock – it was without a website and in need of change. The shop now leads Savile Row in targeting men who the high street has forgotten – who aren’t obsessed about current trends but don’t want to feel self-conscious. Or as Anda puts it, "Most of our customers don’t need to be bolstered or puffed up by their clothes – they’re not on the pull."

Despite a new direction, the focus on achieving the highest standards remains. "The quality of the cloth and the tailoring is paramount," adds Anda. "We make everything from summer linens to autumn flannels, and not just in the traditional colours of greys and navy. Of course, once you start on trousers you have to find the perfect belt and then good socks, and then they want shirts and it’s rather grown from there."

These are not the men that clothes maketh, these are the chaps who make their clothes work for them.


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