Hunting History

By Rebecca McNelly-Tilford

Savile Row is an institution when it comes not just to suiting but also to the real roots of all men’s clothing.  Many of the specific brands that settled on the street have come from a very particular place. For example, Henry Poole is credited as the creator of the dinner jacket and tuxedo. Whilst Gieves & Hawkes’ tailoring history is steeped military uniforms (Gieves originally the Navy and Hawkes the Army), whereas the DNA of H. Huntsman & Sons (founded in 1849, ) starting out creating pieces for hunting and shooting. Central to this is their use of tweed as a core fabrication.

Tweed is such a staple to the brand because tweed came about as an original form of camouflage, and was what initially allowed the brand to move into suiting. It became an organic process for clients, with the brand’s design signature being a slim single-button jacket with high arm-holes which came directly form riding (the cut helped the posture to keep bolt upright).

The company had many house tweeds but now have taken the idea of exclusive tweeds a big stage further. Whereas before clients could work with the team to create a one-off tweed designed to their specifications and view it from a digital image. Now, in the offices on Savile Row, the brand has a small-sized Handloom, to be utilised for a new bespoke tweed service.

Clients can come in and select their own tweed, choosing each individual yarn, colourways etc, in order, not just to create the complete tweed but a physical piece can be given with variations of the idea. The customers can go away with a real piece of cloth to decide finally what they like from the variations created. They can look feel emotionally engage with the sample.

Once the process is finalised a 60 metre bolt of fabric will be created in the mill in Scotland they partner with on this unique project: Which is the only one of its kind on Savile Row. The project to get this fully working has taken the brand 2 to 3 years of development and took many trails to iron out any errors.

Other parts of the business that have also grown as part of the modernisation of the brand include the growth of its womenswear tailoring which always existed but is growing as well as them adding a small RTW collection.

Known over the years also for the relationships with film and TV, with many actors working with the company for clothing, Marc Jacobs, Katherine Hepburn and Nicole Kidman to name but a few, but the brand has a few key names that stand out. For example the giant of American acting Gregory Peck had many suits made by the brand but they worked directly together on tweed designers, so much so the house has a collection of tweed directly called the Gregory Peck tweeds. As well as that Huntsman served as the inspiration for Matthew Vaughn’s blockbuster Kingsman movies and served as a fictional headquarters of the fictional spy agency.

Huntsman will also announce a partnership with luxury online retailer Moda Operandi having created a bespoke tartan in Moda’s house colours. This distinctive tartan will be available for limited-edition, made-to-order pieces, including a single-breasted suit, a double-breasted suit, and a Chesterfield overcoat. As one of the most progressive Savile Row tailors, Huntsman has developed the capability to make small runs of tartan crafted for clients and brand collaborations alike

The traditions of men’s tailoring may well be steeped in history and be as old as the hills but it is still modernising and moving forward expanding its offering and walking with its head held high into a modern world.

Main Image model Richard Biedul; find out more

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