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Richard James: Man in a suit

In an all-British collaboration, Savile Row tailor Richard James has teamed up with retail giant Marks and Spencer to make a range of suits that boast top-quality fabrics and details not normally found in off-the-peg garments. Alpha spoke to the man himself about the project

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Richard James established his own bespoke tailoring company in the early Nineties, becoming part of a new wave of fashion-orientated suit makers on London’s Savile Row that included Ozwald Boateng and Timothy Everest.

What particular challenges did designing items for the Savile Row Inspired range present?

To ensure that the collection captured the sense of exclusivity and individuality that we put into our bespoke and mainline tailoring. With the help and understanding of M&S,
I like to think that we managed it.

What sets Savile Row Inspired apart from other higher-end off-the-peg ranges of formal menswear?

Simply the attention to detail and the quality of the fabrics that comes with Savile Row tailoring. The suits all feature hand-finished stitching, working button holes and flower loops. And all the fabrics used in the collection, I’m proud to say, are British and absolutely stunning.

Who do you see being the typical customers for Savile Row Inspired items?

Men with an appreciation of quality and individuality. Men of a certain attitude more than men of a certain age.

What is your favourite combination of items from the Savile Row Inspired range?

My favourite suit is the two-piece two-button in mid-grey wool and mohair. It can be worn to the office, but it looks great when worn for a special occasion. It’s the perfect suit for the hot pink tie.

What’s been the most enjoyable aspect of working on the Savile Row Inspired range?

I was thrilled by the freedom I was given to be able to put so many of the distinguishing little touches that we put into our bespoke and mainline suits into the collection. There was no cutting corners.

How do you see formal menswear styles, and the market in general, changing over the coming years?

The suit itself is a perfect piece of design, so it’s not going to change in any major way. But the trend is for lighter, softer fabrics. Provenance – where materials come from – and quality are ever more important. I’m very proud that most of the suitings in this collection come from Alfred Brown in Leeds.

Do you have future collaborations with Marks and Spencer planned?

We will gradually expand the range and incorporate other complimentary products and accessories, each of which will embody the craftsmanship and values of Savile Row. Savile Row Inspired is about principles as much as it is a look.

What qualities and craftsmanship in a Richard James bespoke suit can be found in the Savile Row Inspired range?

The trademark clean, lean silhouettes of the suits, all of which are single-breasted with one or two buttons. And the way we use colour to lift and accentuate cut and design is immediately evident in the suit linings, shirts and ties.