A Brief History of British Tailors

A Brief History of British Tailors - Leonard Silver

When it comes to getting suited and booted, the British style is known worldwide for its trend-setting innovation. In the 1800’s, the first stores opened in London’s famed Savile Row; supplying bespoke tailoring to the capital’s well-heeled, and to this day, it remains central to global fashion. These days, Savile Row: the master tailors of British bespoke is a destination for any fashion-focused traveller interested in getting a quality suit from British tailors.

In the early 19th century, there was little more to suits than a matching pair of trousers and a jacket, which came in a somewhat limited range of colours; just brown or black. Nowadays, suits are available in a range of colours, panelling, cloths, designs and more.
Given Britain’s role as an Empire and major global trading partner, suits soon began to spread worldwide and became synonymous with class and social standing. British tailor suits became popular far and wide, across Europe and reaching out to the Far East. Perhaps one of the best examples of this is the Japanese word for suit ‘sabiro’, which – as you might have guessed – is a truncation of the phrase ‘Savile’ and ‘row’.
At the beginning of the Victorian period, the frock coat was common and considered standard everyday clothing for gentlemen. Subsequently, the morning coat, which had a cutaway front to allow for riding a horse, a common occurrence for the era, became the coat of choice. Check out our morning coats, and our modern take on the style with mens overcoats on our product menu. The dinner jacket, which remains a fixture of formal events to this day, was invented during the same era.
Shortly after the early Victorian period, we began to see the media play a role in boosting the suit’s popularity. The Prince of Wales, who would later become Edward VII, was a huge proponent of the attire and travelled the world promoting British tailors. As he began to appear in the papers, he became an icon for many to follow in Britain. His successor, Edward VIII also became an icon for American actors trying to imitate British aristocrats’ fashion in their films, copying the traditional English tailored style before seeping into broader pop culture. Many of these fashions, such as tuxedos, waistcoats and dinner jackets, are making a re-emergence today.

The role of the suit has changed dramatically throughout history too. Whereas suits were once worn as an everyday item, day-to-day styles have become considerably less formal. The general public would often wear work clothes suitable for manual labour through the week, which meant a suit was the outfit of choice for the evening or weekends. While there will always be those who opt for more casual day-to-day wear, the rise in affordable suits from retailers has made them accessible to many and, as with all fashion, these things follow a cyclical route. We have already seen a rise in the popularity of the British custom tailors who make bespoke suits, especially as people promote their fashion choices daily through social media.

It’s a fact that quality British tailors remain a hallmark of success. No one can deny that British tailor suits will always be the epitome of style in men’s fashion. To find out more about our master tailors of British bespoke suits, check out our about us page. For British made 3 piece suits, explore our site. Or for those looking for something extra special, why not treat yourself and commission a made to measure suit.


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