Richard Anderson is known as ‘the King of Savile Row’ – one of the most sought-after tailors in the world.
He has been making bespoke clothing for 36 years in this famous Mayfair district of London. During this time the master cutter has served everyone from Hollywood screen legends Gregory Peck and Rex Harrison to stars such as George Michael and Ian McKellen.
He began as a 17-year-old apprentice in 1982 at the prestigious tailor Huntsman before setting up his own company at 13 Savile Row in 2001. His second book Making The Cut: Stories Of Sartorial Icons by Savile Row’s Master Tailor was published last week. It explores some of the most iconic fashion designs for men.
Material gains: Richard Anderson, left, has worked in Savile Row for 36 years
Why should anyone invest in a bespoke suit?
It might cost £5,000 but a good suit can last a lifetime – and may even improve shape with age. It can be a sound investment.
A hundred man-hours often goes into making a bespoke suit, involving perhaps five fittings. The job of a cutter is to improve the body. This includes making you look a bit taller and slimmer.
Measurements do not tell you everything. For example, one shoulder is usually lower than the other and people carry arms differently. It is a craft and my job is to create a suit to accommodate a person’s unique configuration.
Has Savile Row changed over the years?
Tailoring now serves a wider demographic and is less intimidating – particularly for younger people. I used to find older companies had a ‘do not come in’ atmosphere.
I wanted to do away with this which is why I opened the first bespoke tailor on Savile Row for 50 years. We now also offer ready-to-wear on ‘The Row’ as a stepping-stone to bespoke.
What did your parents teach you about money?
Clients: Hollywood legends like Rex Harrison
Both had a hard-working attitude. My father was an engineer with attention to detail while mother has always had a get-up-and-go approach to life. Dad was in charge of the finances and encouraged me to save.
I started paying housekeeping money at 16 so when I moved out at age 25 I knew all about property and the challenges of paying a mortgage.
What was the first paid job you ever did?
Selling pairs of Levi’s and Lee jeans at a store on Watford High Street at age 16. I grew up a few miles north of the town in St Albans which is also in Hertfordshire.
Have you ever struggled to make ends meet?
Yes. I bought my first home in 1989 when my outgoings were more than the money coming in – and mortgage interest rates were climbing. I had to make cutbacks to make ends meet. This included a ban on going out for drinks or restaurant meals.
Have you ever been paid silly money for a job?
Twenty years ago I was hired by a well-known designer to oversee a project and cut some patterns that paid particularly well. But overall it has been a steady climb as my career has progressed – from a starting salary of £2,000 a year when I was at Huntsman.
What is the most expensive item you have bought for fun?
It was a Range Rover Evoque which I purchased last year. I am a big fan of Land Rover and have owned models before but the family also has a convertible Mini for fun.
Collector: Richard has a Rolex GMT-Master
What is the biggest money mistake you have made?
I have been lucky never to have experienced a financial disaster and so far have not regretted any decisions.
What is your best money decision?
Buying property at an early age. The first home I bought sold for less than it cost me six years later – but it did not put me off. Two homes subsequently more than made up for this. Property has been a great investment over the past 25 years.
Do you save into a pension or invest in the stock market?
I have never been one for the stock market but I do have a pension. There is also something reassuring for me about putting money into bricks and mortar.
Do you own any property?
Yes. I have a five-bedroom family home in Marshalswick, St Albans. I have lived there with my wife Fran and our four children – Tom, Molly, George and Mai – for the past 16 years.
In the know: Anderson’s second book was published last week
What is the one little luxury you like to treat yourself to?
I am an avid watch collector and have a real admiration for the beauty and craftsmanship that goes into timepieces. Similar to a bespoke suit, it is not just the materials they use but also the understanding and respectful attention to detail that they have. I like Rolex. Among my favourites is a GMT-Master ‘Pepsi’ with a red and blue surround that is worth perhaps £7,000.
If you were Chancellor what is the first thing you would do?
Help small businesses. I would cut the red tape surrounding employment and property and support firms wanting to export goods. In the past year there has been an 80 per cent hike in business rate charges and this seems a mad way to help our economy.
Do you think it is important to give to charity?
Yes. My business has supported several good causes over the years close to my heart. These include Lupus UK and Great Ormond Street Hospital.
What is your number one financial priority?
I have four children in their teens or 20s at school or university. Education is vital but it costs money. I need my business to continue to thrive and expand. These two aims go hand-in-hand.