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James Poole of Henry Poole tailors on Savile Row

The Story at Savile Row

Savile Row is a deceptively quiet London street that has achieved international fame as the heart of English bespoke tailoring. Savile Row’s fame can be traced back to James Poole, who opened linen drapers in Everett Street, Brunswick Square in 1806. By the time of the Battle of Waterloo, James Poole had set up as a maker of military tunics.

 

In 1822 James Poole opened an emporium at 181 Regent Street and later made his headquarters at 4 Old Burlington Street. Upon James Poole’s death in 1846, his son, Henry inherited the family business. His undeniable charisma and passion for the aristocratic world of equestrian and field sports made him what today would be known as a ‘celebrity tailor’.

 

Henry Poole’s reputation enhanced as he went on to serve the future Emperor Napoleon, as well as Queen Victoria. However King Edward VII would showcase Henry Poole as a leader of fashion and create a social hub around the Mayfair premises. Henry Poole enlarged the store and built a palatial showroom with a new entrance opening onto the adjoining street of Savile Row. Henry Poole built a reputation for being the first choice for gentlemen of quality, thus starting the long tradition of London bespoke tailoring with Savile Row as its base.

 

After Henry Poole’s death in 1876, his cousin Samuel Cundey took over. By then, the firm had served nearly every European crowned head. Poole’s opened branches in Paris, Vienna and Berlin – the foundation of the international tailor business that continues to this day. By the early 1900s, Henry Poole was the largest tailoring establishment of its type in the world, employing 300 tailors and 14 cutters.

 

When redevelopment in 1961 led to the demolition of its original building, the shop and workrooms were forced to move to a modern site in nearby Cork Street. In 1982, however, Henry Poole were able to return to their traditional home, moving back to ‘the Row’, in a beautiful Victorian building at number 15. Coming full circle, returning to, and building upon, a tradition of their own invention.