Ever since the end of World War II, Savile Row’s future has been under threat. As with many antediluvian institutions, the specter of modernization and changing tastes has loomed large—but the street has been proudly slow to embrace innovation, be it in style or business. Yet while the Row has always endured, the feeling these days is something different. More than half of the shops are empty, padlocked chains across doors prohibiting any ceremonial curtain call for deep-rooted houses, with little to no prospect of replacements.
In previous struggles, financial intervention or a new generation gave the Row a new lease on life. In 1969, when it seemed the traditional suit was dead, Tommy Nutter opened Nutters of Savile Row. Funded by singer Cilla Black and Beatles manager Peter Brown, it brought freshness—as well as the Beatles, Mick Jagger, Elton John, and others—into the traditions of the street. Then, in the 90s, a generation of “Cool Britannia” tailors arrived, men like Richard James and Timothy Everest, who were all about modern cuts and non-stuffiness.