Who is Savile Row Company Custom Made and What Does it Do?
Formerly named 40 Savile Row, Savile Row Company Custom Made is part of a third-generation family business that has been making luxury clothing for over 80 years. Producing only the highest-quality bespoke and ready-to-wear garments for men and women, they draw in discerning customers from all over the world.
Located just a stone’s throw from Savile Row, you’ll find them at the ground floor of the company’s London HQ. There to welcome you with a smile, are a small–but talented–team of two, that offer exceptional one-to-one personal care, combined with an extensive knowledge of tailoring and customer service.
Maximillian Ciampi, the store director, has been working in the luxury retail industry for over 20 years–having made suits for royals, presidents and many other high-profile individuals. He works alongside Tess Harriott, who offers vast experience in men’s, women’s and children’s tailoring. That’s right, not only does the store offer clothing for adults, but your little ones too.
Designing for individuals that appreciate superior quality and expert craftsmanship, the highly experienced team are on-hand to help create the very best clothing and accessories for the modern wardrobe. From made-to-measure suits to bespoke shirts and unique ready-to-wear, they
offer a wide range of products and services in order to help their clientele dress for many occasions–including the races, weddings and business events.
Who Founded Savile Row Company and Why?
Savile Row Company was founded in 1938 by Gerry Doltis; a son of immigrants and tailor who lived and worked in the heart of London. His passion for men’s tailoring was passed down through generations–learning how to make suits from his uncle and grandfather.
After leaving school and getting his first job in the city, he quickly became a master of his trade. Having spent many years making suits for leading entertainment and establishment figures of the day, Gerry decided to plan his next move. His goal was to develop beyond the realms of tailoring for individuals, instead combing an aptitude for business and craftsmanship to create quality clothing on a much larger scale.
Unfortunately, his new venture wasn’t able to get off to the best of starts; only a year later he was called to National Service–prematurely pausing the start of Savile Row Company. To make matters worse, during his time away, London suffered a German bombing campaign (the Blitz), which was to destroy the factory he had worked tirelessly to buy.
Not one to admit defeat, Gerry returned from war and picked up where he had left off. He moved into larger premises and decided to focus on wholesale production. Before long, the business became a leading supplier of luxury clothing for department stores across the UK. Gerry semi-retired in 1988 and passed the reigns to his son, Jeffrey.
After watching his father’s passion for quality and clothing production, Gerry’s son, Jeffrey, was eager to follow in his footsteps. His time at the company started at the age of 18. He was studying history at Queen’s University in Northern Ireland, while working part-time in one of Gerry’s factories. The job mainly involved loading and unloading lorries, however he immersed himself in clothing design, creation and manufacture–learning everything he could about the family business and what it took to make the highest quality garments.
In 1970, Jeffrey moved to America, splitting his time between studying management at Emory University in Atlanta, and gaining experience in a local factory. On his return to Northern Ireland, his father put his studies to good use: tasking him with running a factory of his own.
By 1982, the newly crowned graduate was back in London getting more involved in sales–taking care of wholesale under the mentorship of Gerry. The pair worked closely together until Gerry semi-retired in 1988.
Once at the head of the company, Jeffrey was determined to maintain the high-quality standards his father had introduced, while making sure the business evolved and modernised when required. Using everything he had learned throughout the years, Savile Row Company went from strength to strength, eventually launching the bespoke store in 1998.
What Challenges Are the Business and Industry Facing?
From store closures to non-face-to-face interaction, tailors have been met with a whole host of challenges caused by COVID-19. But it’s not just a global pandemic that has upset the status quo. Some of the hurdles in place were apparent many years before–only to be accelerated further post-lockdown.
The way people shop has changed. Over the last decade or so, retail businesses have watched as some customers shift away from formality. Suits are overlooked for sports jackets, while men are also paying much more attention to what garments are made from in order to be more comfortable.
Jeffrey Doltis has noticed this change. Unless dressing for a celebratory occasion or important business meeting, men and women are generally turning towards a more casual way of dressing. More than ever before, they’re prioritising comfort and easy-to-care-for clothing.
Now while the speed of such change has perhaps been far quicker than many would have expected, the changing of shopping habits is nothing new. In order to continue to flourish, the tailoring industry has always had to move with the times.
The beauty of businesses like Savile Row Company Custom Made is that they’re much more than just suits and shirts. Having always listened to customer feedback, they are able to offer a wide range of garments suitable for the modern gentleman–plus an alterations service.
Whether you need a pair of casual trousers for your more relaxed office or a beautiful velvet jacket for a black-tie event, the London tailoring house have been quietly evolving to provide products and
services beyond traditional suiting.
What Opportunities is the Business/Market Facing?
Although customers are shopping differently, some things have continued to stay the same. For example, the demand for occasionwear has never wavered; it seems men have clearly not forgotten about the need and desire to dress up from time to time.
Sales of everyday suits may have dipped–around 50% over the last five years, according to Andy Saxton, strategic insight director for fashion at Kantar–however men are still turning to Savile Row Company Custom Made for their wedding suits, tuxedos and morning coats. In fact, over half of their turnover comes from the sale of occasionwear.
Men are also becoming more adventurous with their clothing choices.
Maximillian Ciampi has found that his clients are now more willing to look through a wider range of suiting cloths–often choosing vibrant colours and patterns over the usual blues and greys. He believes it’s a need of “standing out” from the crowd and “taking more pride in a well-groomed appearance.”
Savile Row Company’s Advice to Others
Having worked in the luxury retail industry for over 50 years, Jeffrey Doltis knows a thing or two about running a successful business. “To continue to be a success, you should never forget the importance of quality and customer service. A customer will never forget a bad experience or product. Always strive to improve, and while you should always stay true to your values, be prepared to evolve and move with the times,” he says.