Gentlemen of Britain are nothing if not creatures of habit. Some say it’s plain old routine, others a respect for honoured tradition – but we like to think they’re simply hankering after the days when chivalry was the norm and suits were made to measure. Whatever the reason, when it comes to London outfitters it’s well known that British gents are sticklers for quality, heritage and respectability – and when they find one they like, they’ll often be loyal for a lifetime.
When faced with Oxford Street’s gleaming shop windows or crowds hunting for the latest Camden Market bargain, London might seem an unlikely city to harbour such traditional, time-honoured facets of the past – but in fact, the city nourishes and protects these jewels of established craftsmanship like no other. We’ve put together our pick of the most remarkable and revered: the outfitters that the gentlemen of Britain have been – and likely will be — visiting for hundreds of years”¦
James Smith & Sons Umbrellas Ltd, London
The weather in London is notoriously unpredictable and it’s almost certain that, at any time of the year, visitors will be treated to a shower of rain or three. Given that the need for an umbrella has always been a constant in the capital, it’s perhaps unsurprising that James Smith & Sons Umbrellas Ltd has too remained a constant feature of the city since 1830. This world famous emporium is the oldest umbrella shop in Europe and has supplied the likes of Gladstone, Bonar Law and Lord Curzon in its time. Indeed, since its inception, this family run and owned business in New Oxford Street, known as “˜the home of the London umbrella’, has remained largely unchanged, in both the crafting of its products and the interior of its historic Victorian premises.
John Lobb Ltd, London
Turnbull & Asser, London
Ever since 1885 Turnbull & Asser have been making flawless, timeless and British-made shirts. Over the years, gentlemen such as Sir Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan and Prince Charles have at one point walked through their doors at 71-72 Jermyn Street. Indeed, when the Queen chose to allow the Prince of Wales to confer warrants, it was Turnbull & Asser and their distinctive shirts that he signed first. As well as the royal seal of approval, the clothier has also dressed James Bond – both Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan have worn their shirts on screen.
Using only the finest hairsheep and deerskin leathers, as well as linings made of cashmere and Milanese silk, Dents really is the last word when it comes to glove-making in the UK. Established in 1777, their reputation for attention to detail and fine craftsmanship has never wavered. Dents were even responsible for making the Coronation Glove for both Queen Elizabeth II and King George VI.
Want something to top it all off? See our previous feature on London’s best hat shops and milliners.
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Do you have any other London-centric tailoring tips? Share your recommendations in the comments below.