“I wanted to create this really welcoming, beautiful space for women – an unintimidating, cosy environment that was light and bright,” says Daisy Knatchbull of The Deck, the made-to-measure tailoring house she launched in 2019. Based on Savile Row, the atelier has cream and dark-blue walls, inviting plush furnishings and tables strewn with huge white hydrangeas, Diptyque candles and glossy magazines. It’s a far cry from the oak-panelled rooms adorned with gilded antiques and stags’ heads that have colonised this muscular mile of tailoring for gentlemen that has existed for more than two centuries. Sales of men’s suits in Britain have plummeted by 2.3m units over the past five years, according to market research firm Kantar. The shifts in workwear trends alongside the pandemic, combined with high overheads and a decline in tourist numbers, have left Savile Row in a state of perilous decline. Kilgour, Hardy Amies and Chester Barrie have closed their Savile Row stores in recent years (although some retain an online presence). Gieves & Hawkes, one of the world’s most prestigious tailors that once boasted Charlie Chaplin and Winston Churchill as clients, seems at risk of closing permanently after its parent company was put into liquidation. Could expanding its services to women help save the endangered Savile Row?
It was while working as communications director at Huntsman that Knatchbull first saw a gap in the market for women’s tailoring on Savile Row. “I just knew that there were women who really wanted to have this experience,” she says. A two-piece, made-to-measure suit at The Deck starts at £2,200 (a bespoke suit on Savile Row typically costs in the region of £5,000); the house also makes safari jackets, dresses and skirts, and has recently collaborated with Turnbull & Asser on a collection of shirts. It’s a move that has paid off, with business expected to double this year and plans underway to accommodate more customers as well as expand The Deck’s offering to include a broader range of made-to-measure styles. “We have women in their 60s and 70s come to us who say they’ve never found a pair of trousers that have fit them before. I mean, that is a crime.”