We talk to contemporary Savile Row style legend, Richard Anderson, about cheese rolls, Brian Ferry, and his (not-so-secret) penchant for sequins.

Though nestled between the heritage tailors of Savile Row, Richard Anderson, at 13 Savile Row, is anything but old fashioned. White washed walls provide a clean back-drop for contemporary art pieces, and classical music plays coolly in the background. Anderson himself prefers suitably pared-down dress, and is normally kitted out in a single-breasted coat with jetted pockets, in medium navy or grey worsted wool, worn with slim cut trousers.

As seen in the photograph the Ettinger Dark Brown Bakerloo Portolio Case

But has this contemporary cutter always favoured this unusually modern aesthetic?

The young Anderson’s entry to the trade was via a traditional, and slightly anachronistic, channel. In 1981, Richard Anderson’s father spotted an advert in the Daily Telegraph: “Young enthusiastic male of smart appearance wanted for apprenticeship at Huntsman.”

Anderson began his training at the famous Savile Row shop the following year, although he suggests that it could well have been 50 years earlier, given the outfit’s traditional vibe. The structure and discipline of the place suited the young trainee and he relished his six-year apprenticeship. Trainees were restricted to cutting and trimming garments for the first few years, and, “running down to get the cheese rolls and cigarettes for the masters,” before they were permitted to attempt patterns, organise the master’s diary and eventually develop their own book of clients.

 “I’d risen to be the youngest cutter at Huntsman,” he explains. “I was loving it – we were really flying; it was the early 90s.” The house was then sold to a large group of investors, and Anderson decided to strike out on his own (with the aid of fellow Huntsman cutter, Brian Lishak). “I felt that guys of my age – mid-30s to early 40s – could be intimidated by the dark wood and the stags’ heads and the atmosphere of the traditional tailors,” he explains. “What I wanted to do was not be as intimidating as some of the traditional houses, but still provide the quality of service and cut.” ('how to make an Ettinger wallet')

The formula struck a sweet spot, and since it’s inception, 13 Savile Row have been the birthplace of pieces for cult figures, like Brian Ferry and Benicio del Toro (with the seasoned suitsmith having also cut for Hollywood idol, Gregory Peck and American Foreign Secretary, Henry Kissinger, in his time). Anderson’s outfit won the 'Best Tailor' award in the Mayfair Awards in 2017, and the menswear icon has even published two well-received books.

As seen in the photograph the Ettinger Capra Tan Tray Purse

So, what sets Anderson’s approach apart? Although the team likes to work with less conventional fabrics, like cottons, moleskines and specially commissioned materials, Anderson insists he isn’t out to re-invent the wheel: “I was cutting in exactly the same way I was at Huntsman. It’s still a direct measure. It’s such a beautiful way to cut and within that framework you can be as crazy or as contemporary as you want to be.”

He has made sure to push the boundaries, with his cutters constantly on the lookout for new, innovative fabrics and design ideas. “We can influence fashion,” explains Anderson, but we work at a different pace. I did a patchwork tweed jacket and a sequin jacket that were copied a lot.” The trendy tailor is particularly proud of his sparkly creation. “I was a bit worried it would raise eyebrows amongst my more classic customers,” he explains. “One of my more showbiz clients asked me to make it. I cut it very classically. I put a black satin facie on it and black satin flaps and we put it in the window. The reaction was extraordinary,” he muses.

Although Anderson admits that this sort of commission is very much ‘pie in the sky’, and that demand is mostly for business-appropriate grey and blue suits (Ettinger Grey & Blue Saint Crispin wallets), there is still space for creativity. An Italian-style riding coat, called the Huntsman Coat was recently released and new Barleycorn Jackets, in contemporary colours, such as raspberry and blue and fawn came out a few months back. The shop also sells Japanese jeans, in a nod to the call for more casual looks.

As seen in the photograph the Ettinger Saint Crispin Deep Sea Coat Wallet

“Although the world is becoming a little more causal – there are more cashmere sports coats and blazers being worn to the office as opposed to suits – I would say our best sellers are still a mohair and worsted in a navy, in a medium weight,” he explains, noting that for each suit he cuts custom sized pockets to fit each gentleman’s wallet. “I’ve done pockets for all sorts, one guy springs to mind, whose wallet was an abnormally large size. Wallets are always a question we ask. “What sort of thing do they take in their pockets? If you have something bespoke (Ettinger's bespoke offer), it’s great because you can have the pocket tailored to whatever size wallet, whatever size comb etc.” (Ettinger's card cases and coat wallets)

As seen in the photograph the Ettinger Dark Brown Bakerloo Portolio Case

Whether he’s cutting a classic wool suit, or pinning together a more modern piece, one thing has remained constant for Anderson ­– a love of quality that keeps him, and his forward-thinking team, a stitch above the competition.