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Richard James: Casting the bespoke net wider

The famed British designer is collaborating with a high street retailer for a new collection, now available in the UAE


This winter, Savile Row comes to the high street in the UAE. British retailer Marks & Spencer has just launched a collection designed by Menswear Designer of the Year winner Richard James. With shirts priced at Dh295 and full suits starting at Dh3150, the Savile Row-inspired designed by Richard James collection is a modern collection with a classic twist. James, a Savile Row tailor who owns his own eponymous menswear company, tells The Directory why he agreed to work with the retailer, who he wants to target with the collection and the enduring appeal of bespoke tailoring.

Q: Why did you decide to collaborate with M&S?

A: I immediately saw the collaboration as an opportunity to introduce Savile Row and the care and attention to detail that Richard James puts into its tailoring to a wider audience. M&S and Savile Row are both British institutions with great reputations for quality. We share some very important core values. It’s a natural fit.

Q: How would you describe the collection?

A: Modern classic. Slim and elegant. And with a defining Richard James dash of colour, it’s a very British look.

Q: What inspired the collection?

A: Savile Row. No other street in the world has a greater reputation for quality and style.

Q: What are your plans for your own Richard James label and the bespoke service?

A: To maintain the quality that we’ve achieved and that being on Savile Row demands. To grow organically, through word of mouth.

Q: Are there any particular aspects of the range that you are especially proud of? Why?

A: That it captured the quality and sense of exclusivity that we put into our bespoke tailoring and mainline collections. We work to extremely high standards on Savile Row and it was important to us that Savile Row Inspired didn’t fall below them.

Q: Has Richard James any plans for expansion into the Middle East?

A: There is a great appreciation of quality in the Middle East and we’re always interested in expanding.

Q: What can people expect from the collection?

A: Style, quality and comfort. A collection that will make you look and, importantly, feel your best. A good suit flatters, but it also engenders self confidence and self expression.

Q: Do you ever look to the catwalk for inspiration and whose work do you admire?

A: I was enormously impressed and influenced by Armani’s tailoring in the early ’80s. And I adore ‘British Collections: Men’ [the new menswear week in London] – that’s a week of inspiration.

Q: Given the recession, do you still see a future for bespoke tailoring/Savile Row?

A: Savile Row simply produces the best tailoring in the world and there will always be a demand for the best.

Q: What do you see as the enduring appeal of bespoke tailoring?

A: The quality and the personal aspect of it. Approximately 80 hours goes into making a bespoke suit and, cut from a pattern that is made exclusively for the customer, each and every bespoke suit is a totally unique garment.

Q: What do you make of men’s fashion/trends in general today?

A: The essence of fashion is that it moves and changes, so it’s all positive. From a tailoring point of view, suit coats are currently less structured and shorter and fabric is a lot lighter than it used to be.

*Savile Row Inspired designed by Richard James collection is now available in the UAE (Text provided by Marks & Spencer)