Reaching the third stop of my journey through bespoke-wonderland was quite quick, as merely a few hundred meters stood between where I was and another temple of British bespoke: Huntsman & Sons, a highly honourable name known for the quality of its exclusive tweeds, but also for its prices, that have always been the highest on the Row.
Here again, I was very warmly welcomed, and after being greeted by the very amicable Poppy Charles, I got to spend a long time with the Huntsman head cutter, Patrick Murphy, whose father was also a Huntsman cutter.
In terms of style, Huntsman’s approach is fundamentally opposed to that of Anderson & Sheppard.
Here, no soft shoulder in sight, but rather a very structured shoulder work, with quite high armscyes (which I fancy quite a bit) and slightly longer vests to create a more natural look (according to the house cutter), particularly nipped at the waist.
This description really proves itself accurate when I put on a Huntsman jacket (even ready-to-wear). Indeed, trying one on is a really particular experience: you immediately feel the strict fit of the jacket and a sudden urge to stand straighter and taller.
Here we are at odds with the fluidity and comfort of the Drape cut. Even though the overall impression is rather quite enjoyable, there is no room for any nonchalance at Huntsman, whose jackets have a considerable impact on the posture of he who wears them.
Other house detail: a clear preference for single-buttoning, to highlight even further the neat lines and the highly cinched fit, especially around the waist.
It is a beautiful house that remains very attached to its roots, with simply gorgeous tweeds, and even saddles in the fitting rooms that allow you to, as was once the tradition, see the drape of the jackets and “breeches” worn for riding.
Even the famous bicycle used by Huntsman for client deliveries in the early 20th century still stands proud at the door. Here, there is no trifling with tradition !
The highpoint of my visit to this legendary address will remain the privilege to wander (or rather immerse myself) in the archive room, where thousands of paper and cardboard patterns are preciously kept. Needless to say, the name on the envelopes, with such clients as Rudolph Valentino, Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart and even Gianni Agnelli written in a looped and rounded hand, would have made the head of anyone passionate about masculine elegance spin.
Lastly, I was lucky to receive a guided tour of the workshop from passionate and captivating Patrick Murphy, and once again I was stunned by the young average age of the hands working for this venerable house (Huntsman being partnered with the Newham College, a wonderful initiative indeed).
It was an intense, spellbinding, and even moving visit to a salon that, to me, remains one of the best in the world, along with Anderson & Sheppard (to stick with British names).
All photos © Andy Barnham for PG (except numbers 4, 5, 6)
To conclude, it is worth mentioning that Huntsman & Sons, unlike Anderson & Sheppard, has opted for a complete offer comprised of ready to wear (starting at £1,550 for a two-piece suit), made-to-measure (starting at £2,400) and of course bespoke (starting at £4,474).
As we walk out of Huntsman, it is already 5pm on a Friday. Despite the intensity of my visit of the Golden Mile, I am still bursting with the energy of a teenager on the lookout for any new thrills. Let us admit it, for an amateur of bespoke, a visit to the houses of the Row is a true pilgrimage. The only issue being that at 5 PM on Fridays, English tailors tend to flow out of their workshops and flock to their local pubs, such as the ever-popular Burlington Arms.
To be continued…