On the track of the good style – Jermyn Street, London

A small, one way street, parallel to Piccadilly. Located in the downtown, but very quite, it is for sure an obligatory destination durin my every trip to London. Today I invite you for a short walk on Jermyn Street – the place where the modern men’s shirt was born. A street where on the distance of 500 m you can find more than 30 stores with mens’ garments, especially shirts and accessories. Every store is also an important element of the British tailoring industry, offering solid craftmenship, outstanding quality and timeless elegance and style.

History of Jermyn Street, located in St. James’s in central London goes back to 1664 where the king Charles II gave Sir Henry Jermyn, 1st Earl of St. Albans the task to develop and rebuild this part of London. The area attracted very quickly lots od craftsmen and artists and soon became famous for oustanding quality products but also for the restaurants. caffes and theatres. Until today we can find there Paxton&Whitefield – the oldest cheese store in London, opened in 1797 and located today at 93, Jermyn St. at 16b there is Jermyn Street Theatre – the smallest theatre of West End, with 70 seats only

Men’s fashion lovers and hot heads though know Jermyn Street mainly because of the stores selling elegant men’s clothes. Since the second half of XIXth century Jermyn St. is famous for being home for companies specialized in MTM and bespoke tailoring (mainly shirts) and sale of men’s accessories: bow-ties, suspenders, handkerchiefs and – of course – ties. Every time I walk on Jermyn St. I have this feeling of being connected to this glorious past of great British tailor industry. To those amazing companies which contributed a lot to create something which we call today a classic men’s elegance. Companies which were tailoring the garments for kings, princes, British and European aristocracy. And each time I come to the conclusion that, fortunately, the sprit of those times is still there. Here is my – very subjective – selection of the most interesting companies specialized in shirts, suits and accessories from Jermyn St. in London.

When you turn to Jermyn St, from Regent St., on the left hand side you will find the store from T.M. Lewin. That’s the company with great tradition, very important for the history of British tailoring industry. It has been founded by Thomas Mayes Lewin in 1898. Thomas M. Lewin was one of the trendsetters of the moder tailoring. He is one of the inventors of the ‘coat-shirt’, a shirt that you put on like a coat, fastening the buttons down the front.

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During both world wars, thanks to the outstanding quality and precise finishing T.M. Lewin became a provider of the Club Colours ties to the RAF and British Army, as well as many colleges and universities and they continue this cooperation untill today.

Moving forward, also on the left we can find a store from Charles Tyrwitt, They offer suits, jackets, shirts and ties with a vert reasonnable value for money. They specialized in typical British style and cutting, poffering also MTM services. They jackets and suits are very classic, with the English cut – quit long, one-breasted, very often with angled pockets, mainyl blue, navy blue or grey.

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Next company that the store we can find on Jermyn st. is Harvie&Hudson. It has been founded in 1949 and they are one of the youngest companies present on Jermyn St. Their store looks quite modest from the outstide but don’t let you go with this first feeling and get in. You will feel the special atmosphere of the good old times of the British tailoring. You will be warmly welcomed by distinguished gentlemen in suits and tie, who will make your shopping very pleasant.

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Opposite, at no 34 there is a store from Hawkes&Curtis, a company specialized in shirts and ties but also offering other elements of men’s outfit. Their store occupies 3 floors and on the ground floor you may find a stunning selection of shirts in all possible colors and patterns, Most of them are classic shirts for the business attire, with the cuff links and kent collar. During my last visit I was amazed by their collection of coats, especially the covert coats with the collars in contrast colorfs. It’s worth to mention that Hawkes&Curtis have 2 stores on Jermyn St. located not more than 150 m one from another!

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Nearby, on the no 90 we can find the store from Roderick Charles. They have 2 more stores in London but the one from Jermyn St. is the flagship store. This is the youngest clothing company on Jermyn St, as it was founded in 1992 only. They position themselves as a combination of the traditional British style and modern trends in men’s fashion.

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Just few steps further, at no 87 and 85, we can find 2 interesting stores: Hackett and Thomas Pink. Both companies have chosen different strategy than the others. They based their development on the international expansion and advanced marketing, supported by a substential budget. It resulted in some controverse decisions regarding the pricing and assortment. I.e Hackett is known today mainly for selling the casual garments like polo shirts, which are as popular as those from Lacoste or Ralph Lauren, however I still respect Hackett for their very well cutted jackets and suits, made of high quality wool. Those are not cheap as for RTM but this is great value for money and they are very comfortable to wear.

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Thomas Pink decided to specialize in shirts. This is their flagship product. Thanks to very advanced website, their sales online and generates substantial part of the turnover. Thomas Pink build their image on British tradition and outstanding quality. Their stores, especially the one located at Jermyn St. look amazing, full of colors and catch the eye with a beautiful exposition of the products. To my opinion there is a little bit too much marketing and over-selling but the products themselves are really great – very good quality, fine finishing, interesting colors and patterns. This is a result of being a part of the bigest group in the world specializing in luxury goods – Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH).

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Just because I was passing by, I mention the stores of 2 global brands, that I’m sure you all know – Italian Boggi from Milan and iconic British brand – Alfred Dunhill.  Their stores look stunning and are worth to visit however both companies are not a part of the tradition of Jermyn St. and they are here purely for commercial and marketing reasons.

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Nearby we can find a store from Hilditch&Key, company making shirts and ties of great quality. It has been founded by two tailors: Charles F. Hilditch and W. Graham Key, who joined the forces and opened the store together in 1899. It was firstly located at Tottenham Road, then moved to Jermyn St. The company is famous for their discretion but it is commonyl known that among their clients there are famous politicians and aristocrates.

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At the end of my own review of the traditional British companies specialized in men’s clothing I’d like to mention 2 special ones.
First one is New&Lidgewood – a quintesence of the British heritage. Tweed suits in green, brown, beidge and burgundy, bow-ties, scarfs and other accessories inspired by the British countryside style – those are the trademarks of this company, established in 1865. It started in Eton to supply the clothes for the students of this famous school. Until today the company is widely known for their shirts, trousers and accessories. Their store (in fact – 2, located on the both sides of the entrance to the Piccadilly Arcades) at no 53 are absolutely amazing despite very small size.

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The second one is a famous Turnbull&Asser. Their store is located at no 71-72, at the corner of Bury St. T&A is the only one on Jermyn Street which has a status of an official supplier of the Her Majesty Court. The quality of their clothes is legendary and proven by te fact that they received a Certificate of The Quality from the king Edward VII. Probably their most famous (and loyal!) client is prince Charles Windsor. The second is probably Sean Connery who was wearing T&A suits in the first James Bond movies (Dr No and From Russia with Love). That was especially for this occasion that T&A created a shirt with so called coctail cuff which S. Connery presented for the first time in 1962.

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The company celebrated 130 Anniversary in 2016. Their are very proud of the fact that they are still making the suits in England. Turnbull&Asser is a quintesence of the British style. Everybody who appreciates the contribution of British into the men’s style should get at least 1 item from the assortment to feel it.

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Bartek Górzny
Bartek Górzny

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