Some weeks ago, upon hearing of my upcoming trip to London, Mike from Ask Andy approached me, and suggested that I might take photos of what I saw, sartorially, in London during the holidays, and write about my experiences.
This will be the most eccentric and capricious of travelogues.
If you seek a well-planned guide to all that is available in menswear in London, seek that elsewhere. However, I’ve been traveling to London, and sampling the available menswear since 1984. Over the last 35 years, I have developed quite a set of preferences and prejudices that might be of interest to a select audience.
The Epicenter: Jermyn Street
For my tastes, the epicenter of menswear is that strip of land in St. James known as Jermyn St.
Before we dive into my shopping escapades, here are some frequently asked questions about Jermyn Street.
Where is Jermyn Street?
Per Wikipedia, Jermyn Street is a one-way street in the St James’s area of the City of Westminster in London, England.
It is to the south of, parallel, and adjacent to Piccadilly road. Jermyn Street is known as a street for gentlemen’s-clothing retailers.
How long has Jermyn Street existed?
Jermyn Street dates back to 1664 when Charles II authorized Henry Jermyn, the Earl of St Albans, to develop an area close to St James’s Palace. It has flourished ever since and holds a worldwide reputation for high quality British artistry and craftsmanship.
What is Jermyn Street most known for?
The street is home to London’s finest men’s tailors, shirt makers, suppliers of leather goods, shoes, food & wine merchants, restaurants, hotels and art galleries.
How do you pronounce Jermyn Street
Jermyn is pronounced similar to the word “German”.
You can hear two different pronunciations of Jermyn Street here.
Where I Shop
My budget has never really caused me to cross Piccadilly, and, through the Burlington Arcade, over to Savile Row to disgorge my earthly wealth on attire. Though, I have gone as far as Burlington Gardens to spend money at Ede & Ravenscroft on more than one occasion.
There are two outliers among the shops which I visited.
The first is Thomas Farthing, a shop in Museum Street, near the British Museum. Not an area for menswear in general, but Thomas Farthing is a shop with a very retro sensibility which I’ve found appealing.
The second is Laird Hatters, which I happened upon by accident a few years in New Row, near Covent Garden, then found another branch in the Savoy Building in the Strand.
As it happens, the only menswear that I purchased this trip were from the outlier shops. I purchased a bow tie from Thomas Farthing, and two trilby hats from Laird in the Strand.
A Magpie’s View of Jermyn Street Shop Windows
The photographs which I’ve taken are not an evenhanded survey of the goods available for sale. But rather, more a magpie’s view of shop windows – bright, colorful things that caught my interest, or displays that were particularly visually stimulating.
Absent are photos of many of the most famous shops in Jermyn St. The street is well known for shirtmakers, and now, much for than 35 years ago, for shoemakers. Many of the more notable brands of shoemakers in the UK have opened shoe stores in Jermyn St.
Do not take this as a snub, or a commentary on my opinion of their goods. As I’ve stated previously, photos were taken of those things which particularly caught my eye, without rhyme nor reason.
In two cases, I did actually try on extraordinary things that I saw in the shop windows:
- A dinner jacket seen in the window of Benson & Clegg, in the Piccadilly Arcade
- A formal waistcoat seen in the window of Neal & Palmer, just down the arcade from Benson & Clegg
Photos are included of these try-ons. Both items were quite tempting.
It was only through a massive fit of fiscal probity that I demurred on their purchase.
Jermyn Street Shops: Photos
The shop windows shown are:
Budd (two fine silk scarves, draped over dressed mannequins)
Benson & Clegg (the dinner jacket which I tried on)
Neal & Palmer (the formal waistcoat which I tried on)
Favourbrook: (A shawl-collared dinner jacket from their small shop in the Piccadilly Arcade. Also, their window display from their large shop in Pall Mall)
New & Lingwood (a very bold plaid suit, and three very luxurious and colorful silk dressing gowns)
Deakin & Francis (two windows full of cufflinks)
Manolo Blahnik (quite unusual embroidered velvet evening shoes)
Ede & Ravenscroft (a display of formal attire in their curved bay window)
Laird Hatters in the Strand
Three of the stalwarts of Savile Row – Huntsman, Dege & Skinner, and Henry Poole.