Regular retail portion of the Brook Street location.
With the most expensive retail environments, trendiest cover models and oftentimes garish designs, luxury brands are increasingly in the spotlight. However, it's possible to attain extravagance without ostentation, and many smaller brands are achieving just that - without limiting the growth of their businesses.
One such example is the revered Savile Row tailoring group Spencer Hart, led by its founder, Nick Hart. Specialising in bespoke men's suiting and apparel, Savile Row is a cornerstone of British fashion, and home to some of the most adept tailors in the world.
Yet, Spencer Hart's Brook Street flagship store houses something that sets it apart from its Savile Row contemporaries: The Vault. It's a fitting name for the store's lower level, a former bank vault that has been repurposed as a VIP showroom for key card toting shoppers from around the world.
The building itself is a period neo-Georgian centerpiece that captures Hart's elegant vision for the brand. Inside, the store's upper and lower levels are as divergent as night and day. Moving downstairs from a bright main floor, the basement submerges into a dark palette of browns and slates. Moody spotlights are reminiscent of The Rat Pack or an early Bond film set, and aesthetics emphasise '50s and '60s interior design and ambiance. It's not a stretch to imagine Humphrey Bogart, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin or Sammy Davis, Jr. having their measurements taken.
The creation of a sartorial private club such as The Vault allows an elite few - who deeply appreciate the subtleties of men's fashion - to congregate. For the 2011 Golden Globes, the brand set up shop in Chateau Marmont's Bungalow No 1 - an apt location for a brand that regularly draws upon the Palm Springs aesthetic. Spencer Hart dressed 10 British actors for the event, including Orlando Bloom, Benedict Cumberbatch, Taylor Hackford and Jack Huston.
By offering up The Vault, the brand has brought together its successes and connections to a permanent location. Named VIPs include Jay-Z, P Diddy and Robbie Williams - the latter also being a lead investor in Spencer Hart. The exclusive showroom boasts made-to-measure, bespoke and personal preference on almost everything available at Spencer Hart. After all, Hart doesn't "believe [that] one style fits all."
With the growth of the Asian luxury market, Hart noticed that Savile Row tailoring and style was becoming more colourful, more playful and a bit sharper. For a long time, menswear played it safe with formulaic design and construction, taking fewer risks than womenswear. While existing cuts are updated and refined, disciplined tailors and designers are often forced to work within the narrow parameters built before them.
With that in mind, Spencer Hart is seeking to go beyond suiting - to embodying a lifestyle. The brand has added denim, luggage and scents to its collections and carries literature, film, art and music at the Brook Street shop, adding to the character of the well-rounded gentleman.
Benedict Cumberbatch makes his
What Nick Hart has managed to create with Spencer Hart is nothing short of spectacular. Without giving up his panache for Savile Row tailoring and attention to minute detail, he has taken high-profile celebrities and entertainment industry mainstays by storm. Hart seems to have attained this is by emphasising historical styles, expressing Spencer Hart's unique take on vintage Palm Springs, all the while, bypassing the seemingly gaudy approach of some luxury brand contemporaries.
The blend of influences was immediately apparent in Spencer Hart's S/S 2013 showing at this year's inaugural London Collections: Men. Hart describes the Palm Springs line as "a sub-brand, a whole story and world about Palm Springs' relationship to Savile Row." The fusion of Savile Row and Palm Springs can be described as business-lounge: tailored jackets, club collars and loose pants resulting in looks that would excite Hugh Hefner and Steve McQueen. Topping off the show with a satin smoking jacket-clad Benedict Cumberbatch solidified Hart's synthesis of classic Californian Americana with British sensibility and emerging talent in entertainment.
While this move away from traditional tailoring may be frowned upon by purists, it's breathing life into the company, and it's growing up to be a complete lifestyle experience. Many nearby tailors may disagree, but there is more to life than a double-breasted jacket.
Hart's sensibilities have allowed him to maintain his position on Savile Row and remain within the liberating landscape of independent design whilst still being approachable to Hollywood. Hart now has the means to transform his craft into one of international acclaim and big-box attitude, but that wouldn't fit with his - or the Row's - ideology. Rest assured that Hart is helping to further solidify Savile Row as the top destination for men's tailoring. Besides, with low quality conglomerates threatening to move in and the risk of rising property costs pushing out some longstanding tailors, Savile Row needs international sales now more than ever.
Sign up to receive a weekly dispatch from
The Genteel is committed to delivering quality journalism, unearthing the forces shaping international fashion and design, through the lens of business, culture, society, best kept secrets and street style. As multi-dimensional and stimulating as its readers, The Genteel is the inspired destination where informed readers converge with in-depth fashion and design coverage.
A worldwide collective of contributors currently form The Genteel. On a daily basis our team dispatches thought-provoking and insightful articles from the streets of Oslo, Toronto, Beirut, Moscow, United Arab Emirates, Seoul and beyond.