It was a couple of years ago when I first heard that a couple of former Kilgour cutters had decamped for Douglas Hayward on Mount Street. But it was only on my most recent London trip that I managed to finally stop by. And it was long overdue.
Hayward is located in Mayfair on Mount Street, within easy walking distance of Savile Row. There I met Ralph, who works the front of the house, and chatted with him a bit before one of the cutters, Campbell Carey walked out to greet me. Amazingly, Campbell remembered my name after having last met some three or four years ago when he and head cutter Ritchie Charlton were working at Kilgour.
|Cutter Campbell Carey|
I have fond memories of the previous incarnation of Kilgour when they offered full bespoke (cut and made in Savile Row) and entry level bespoke (cut in Savile Row but made and finished in Shanghai). I still think they make the best-looking one button peak lapel jackets around.
Kilgour’s new ownership decided to offer only full bespoke as a way to move squarely back into high-end luxury. However, I think it’s very commercially astute of Hayward to offer an entry level bespoke (in fact the same Shanghai program from the old Kilgour offering), given the expanding market of discerning male customers in the last few years, mostly in the younger demographic. This younger demographic typically has the will and desire but not the pocketbook for full bespoke, which smells like an opportunity to me.
In fact, Hayward offers three price levels: full bespoke (cut and made in London), entry level bespoke (Shanghai) and a MTM program (made in Portugal, and allows for modifications such as adjusting the armhole). A 2 piece suit currently costs (inclusive VAT): full bespoke 3,300 GBP, entry level Shanghai 2,000 GBP and MTM Portugal 1,700 GBP.
After Douglas Hayward passed away in 2008, Campbell and Ritchie, backed by their investors, acquired the Hayward name and store, which was redone to open up the ceilings and windows which look into Mount Street Gardens. Their cutting table commands perhaps the best view of all the Savile Row tailoring houses. It certainly has the most bucolic view.
Ritchie and Campbell have created a hybrid style amalgamating the original Hayward cut and Kilgour’s, resulting in a full chest like Kilgour but a softer shoulder, less aggressive semi-slant pockets and a more “squared” notch on the lapel, which effectively makes for a fuller lapel compared to a Kilgour lapel. It’s a terrific look in my opinion. When I visited, I saw two great examples: an 11oz tweed coat made of Islay Woolen Mill fabric with vintage stag horn buttons and a dark navy blue velvet jacket (in the very elusive silk velveteen weave that I had been looking for).
|Hayward Islay Mill tweed jacket|
|Close-up of vintage stag horn buttons|
An interesting side note. When it came to pattern making, Douglas Hayward practiced a different cutting style than is traditionally taught. Both Ritchie and Campbell rely substantially on the paper pattern to create the garment, whereas apparently Hayward started essentially from scratch, relying on memory to cut and tweak the customer’s pattern afresh every time. For him, the paper pattern was less important than the fitting process.
Thanks to Campbell, I also finally found a source for silk velveteen in the same 81%/19% cotton/silk composition as the old Richard James Weldon book. The key advantage of silk velveteen is that the pile is less visible than pure cotton velvet, which can look a bit dull compared to its more lustrous cousin. Incidentally, the shop uses a local husband and wife team for the special frogging and braiding required for smoking jackets.
If you’re serious about a smoking jacket with distinction, I’d suggest having a chat with Campbell and Ritchie. They’re also pictured in the nice Savile Row photo spread in the new Esquire Spring/Summer 2012 Big Black Book (p. 100).