Richard James: Laid-back luxe on Savile Row

Menswear is in the middle of a revolution, with relaxed styles and separates the order of the day. And London's tailors are following suit


There are still few better places to pick up a bespoke suit than Savile Row in London, but as we increasingly forgo the time-honoured two-piece in favour of more relaxed styles, traditional tailors have had to adapt to survive.

As one of the newer faces on the street – relatively speaking, having joined "The Row" in 1992 – Richard James has always remained nearer the contemporary end of the spectrum. Among the first of the more fashion-orientated "new establishment" of the time, alongside Ozwald Boateng and then-neighbour Timothy Everest (who has since made the bold move to east London), the tailor deftly combines a commitment to classic craftsmanship with a forward-thinking design perspective.

The addition of knitwear to its diffusion line, Mayfair, for the first time continues to acknowledge the loosening of style codes, where mix-and-match separates can look just as sharp as a shirt and tie. The new pieces are offered in two variations: a diamond-textured crew neck and roll neck, both in Merino wool and in burgundy or navy and grey or blue ombre respectively.

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This shift has also been seen within the older guard – Kilgour's creative director Carlo Brandelli has mastered the blending of old and new, introducing clean, architectural lines and modern performance fabrics into the house's collections. Meanwhile, Hardy Amies has enlisted Darren Barrowcliff to head up its design department and the Detroit native is just as likely to draw inspiration from his love of the Motor City's eclectic music scene as from British tailoring tradition. The resulting wares, which see him introduce wearing trainers with eveningwear and adding cargo pockets to formal trousers, is a welcome reflection of the lifestyle of the modern man.

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