Bright Sparks: Richard James

Richard James -BESPOKE_23
The Naked Suit at Richard James Bespoke. Sean Knox
Port’s fashion editor Alex Petsetakis on how James blasted the cobwebs from the corners of Savile Row with his rebellious approach to bespoke tailoring

When referring to the renowned tradition of austere and meticulous bespoke menswear only one place can come to mind, the ‘golden mile of tailoring’: Savile Row in Mayfair. Clusters of tailors buried in basements armed with a set of steal shears – a wedge of chalk and a measuring tape draped around their neck – busily stitching pocket linings and buttonholes. You wouldn’t, conversely, envision suits here made from camouflage; fitting jackets astride a motorcycle or Swarovski encrusted slippers, but this is what designer Richard James had in mind for the dusty tradition when his label was founded 21 years ago.

Seen as too young and modern for the Row when they first set up shop in 1992, Richard James and his business partner Sean Dixon had a colourful agenda: to bring vibrant fabrics and bolder cuts, to clear out the moths and revitalise bespoke tailoring. There would be no target age group and the ethos was for the customer to have final say on their best cut. The brands clientele and collaborators range from the likes of Sir Elton John and Tinie Tempah to SpongeBob SquarePants and Umbro. Now, more than two decades down the line, the established eponymous label is available worldwide with all the trimmings: shirts, footwear, denim, leather goods, swimwear and socks.