A focus on a Savile Row institution and its essential new Ready to Wear collection
Huntsman is one of the most storied names on Savile Row. Established in 1849 when Henry Huntsman took over an established ‘breeches and gaiters’ makers, it moved to The Row in 1919, and has dressed some of the most stylish and significant men (and occasionally women) of the last century or more: Edward VIII, Winston Churchill, Rudolph Valentino, Ronald Reagan, Dirk Bogarde, Bing Crosby, Kathrine Hepburn, Paul Newman, David Bowie, Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, to reel off a few of the names on Huntsman’s client list. Gregory Peck was a customer for 50 years, commissioning around 160 coats, suits and sports jackets.
There’s some debate as to who is most associated with the one-button jacket – both Huntsman and Kilgour claim that honour – but certainly Huntsman’s single-button house cut, closely fitted (or ‘compressed’) at the waist and flared out in the skirt, gives a strong, masculine silhouette and is the style most often chosen by bespoke customers – which make up nearly 90% of Huntsman’s clientele. But since the arrival of creative director and co head cutter Campbell Carey, Huntsman’s ready to wear (RTW) line has been given a little more attention, and the SS17 collection is very much worth investigating. Often bespoke tailor’s RTW lines are looked simply as inferior versions of what the top clients wear, but Carey doesn’t view it like that. In fact, a number of his regulars, he told me last year, look to RTW if they need something more quickly than the bespoke process will allow, or if commissioning a jacket in linen or cotton makes little sense if what they’re after is already available on the rail for half the price.
All made up to a one-button style, the jackets come in a range of cloths, from a linen-silk mix to a lightweight hopsack wool, but one that catches the eye is what looks like a classic blue blazer, but in a sustainably grown bamboo fabric woven in Huddersfield. Bamboo looks a little like linen, but has the handle of something much softer, and its natural moisture-wicking properties and light weight make it an excellent choice for summer. Another stand out is a brown and cream Prince of Wales-check linen jacket, which has a little more interest to it than the usual seasonal suspects of cream or blues, and looks particularly stylish in the one-button format.
To go with the jackets, Huntsman is offering four RTW trouser options, three in a cotton-cashmere blend in air-force blue, ecru and camel, but the pick of the bunch is a pleated pair in a rich tobacco linen, which would team nicely with a navy blazer, or that Prince of Wales number above.
The rest of the RTW available includes gloves, scarves, coats and knitwear, but amongst those, also noteworthy is Huntsman’s recent collaboration with Turnbull & Asser. The Huntsman shirts, made with the assistance of one of the world’s most prestigious names in shirting, are 100% Egyptian cotton, woven in Italy, and designed to be worn with or without a tie. A number of collar types are available: our choice would be the Hammick, named after Huntsman’s long-time head cutter, Colin Hammick, who worked for the house for 50 years. huntsmansavilerow.com