Feb. 20 - Upmarket tailors on London's famous Savile Row are seeing a remarkable resurgence as a new generation of younger clientele boost business, with one shirtmaker seeing growth of 25% last year. Ivor Bennett reports.
Getting a suit made here doesn't come cheap. They're all hand tailored and cost nearly 4000 pounds. but this is no ordinary suit maker. Anderson and Sheppard is part of London's upmarket Savile Row. Its client book reads like a who's who of Britain's rich and famous - from Charlie Chaplin to the current heir to the throne. But despite the high cost and exclusivity, the company's attracting a new generation of customers. Shop manager Colin Hayward credits the recession. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SHOP MANAGER COLIN HAYWARD SAYING: "For a while people steered away from the suit and now it seems to be going back the other way and I think where there's a competitive job market out there people just want to give themselves that little extra edge and I think a well-made suit does that." Turnover here rose by almost 18 percent last year to 4 million pounds, as the new customers flooded in. James Massey's one of them. He says the quality of the product makes it worth the investment. (SOUNDBITE) CUSTOMER JAMES MASSEY, SAYING: "If you put on weight, as most men invariably do, it can be let out for you, you don't have to chuck it away and buy another suit. So the product actually lasts longer so from that point of view, provided you can find the initial outlay, financially it actually makes sense." Savile Row's been making suits for nearly 200 years. But the rise of ready-to-wear lines in the 1970s left the industry hanging by a thread. Bespoke shirtmaker Budd is another benefiting from the dramatic turnaround. Business grew by 25 percent last year. Veteran actor Edward Fox has been getting his shirts made here for over 50 years. He says it's the personal touches that keep him coming back. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ACTOR AND BUDD SHIRTMAKERS CUSTOMER FOR 55 YEARS EDWARD FOX SAYING: "It's a bit like a home, sort of. But I suppose when you find where you know you will be able to buy exactly what you want and go out happy with what you've bought, even though you have spent a few more pounds than you would perhaps down the road or somewhere else, you have got what you want and you know the quality is in it." Tradition counts on Savile Row and it shows. The shops appear frozen in time. But the fact nothing's changed here is exactly why business is roaring once again.