On November 7th 2019 Savile Row experienced an unprecedented historic moment. The street was closed to traffic as Patron David Gandy switched on the first festive lights ever in honour of the world-renowned craftsmanship and expertise of Savile Row’s tailors. Though an unsettled year for many, for us at Henry Poole & Co, it was an aptly joyous way to round off 2019, a year in which our reputation as one of Britain’s foremost heritage tailors soared.
This was partly due to the success of Henry Poole & Co, The First Tailor of Savile Row, published by Thames & Hudson last October and for which I wrote the foreword. The book is a handsomely illustrated history of our firm, told through the eyes of our most prestigious customers down the ages, including King Edward VII, Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle and William Randolph Hearst. Author and archivist James Sherwood spent a decade cataloguing, restoring and rebinding the customer ledgers dating back to 1846. He discovered and was able to retell the extraordinary records of kings, maharajahs, emperors, statesmen, financiers, artists and philanthropists, all sartorially united in their mutual respect for and confidence in Poole’s tailoring.
Last year we also celebrated our 200-year-association with private banker Coutts by co-designing a limited edition House Special cloth. The ink blue worsted cloth has a sky-blue double pinstripe to represent the two centuries since our founder, James Poole, opened a Coutts bank account in 1819. Coutts invited us to present an exhibition of bespoke tailoring, curated by James Sherwood, at its flagship headquarters in Garden Court at 440 Strand.
Exhibits comprised numerous letters and ledger pages (some between Coutts and Poole’s) and many rarely seen garments. These included court uniforms and ceremonial tailoring, like the 1819 King George III scarlet and gold lace Semi-State Livery (the earliest garment tailored by Poole’s for the Royal Household) and Poole’s tailored liveries for Versailles, the Tuilleries, Fontainebleau, Saint Cloud and Compiègne. These were all evidence that Poole’s was the most prestigious livery tailor in the world, commissioned by everyone from the Khedive of Egypt to the Shah of Persia. One of the famous dinner jackets or Tuxedos, first made in 1865 for the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII), was on display plus Edwardian tailoring, classic city suits, estate tweeds and the Churchill Collection – we have tailored for six Prime Ministers. Contemporary exhibits included the 2017 Adidas Original and Henry Poole & Co limited edition trainers in Churchill chalk stripe. The exhibition was a triumph, affording an alternative historical perspective on world leaders via their regalia.
Our history was further celebrated in the run up to December with a pop-up display of historic uniforms, ceremonial outfits and bespoke tailoring in Burlington Arcade, a location we embraced, having made the original liveries for the Burlington Arcade Beadles. Henry Poole & Co was even the joint inspiration for a lusciously decadent Afternoon Tea, offered by The Stafford London, with cakes, pastries and savouries designed to draw attention to the centuries old heritage of the many boutiques, from Floris to Henry Poole & Co., that continue to thrive today in the St. James’s area.
On a contemporary note, last year we were proud to collaborate with Canada Goose to create the W1 flannel blazer filled with goose down for men and women (so named because our flagship stores are both in W1 in London’s West End) and the Selvedge Scarf in super fine merino wool. The exciting and unexpected pairing underlined the similarities between the two heritage brands and our shared commitment top performance via functional design. As Dani Reiss, President and CEO of Canada Goose says, when our teams met we were ‘excited about our common threads’ and ‘pioneering roles’ we have both played in our categories.
We have been going since 1806 so we felt entitled to show off a bit about our history last year but our collaboration with Canada Goose demonstrated clearly how we are constantly looking to the future of our customers’ needs. As further evidence of that, we launched a new website in September. This will give our loyal customers easier and greater access to all our services, with an improved online shop, a swatch ordering service and a meet-the-team page.
As we begin a new decade, Henry Poole & Co pledges to uphold its commitment to superb tailoring and exceptional service. We look forward to welcoming you at 15 Savile Row and I wish all our customers around the world a very happy new year.