After 250 years of cutting cloth for kings, admirals, celebrities and prime ministers, Savile Row’s most famous tailor could be closing down permanently.
Gieves & Hawkes and sister company Kent & Curwen could soon be wound up if a rescuer does not step forward, as their Chinese parent company faces stark financial problems.
Trinity Limited, which owns the brands, is controlled by the Shandong Ruyi Technology Group, which now owes $4 billion following a rapid acquisition spree in 2015, The Times reports.
Thomas Hawkes, who sold military clothes to Army and Navy officers at Brewer Street in 1771, opened his first shop. Gieves was formed 14 years later.
Gieves acquired Hawkes and the 1 Savile Row Freehold in 1974.
Famous faces and historical figures to have worn the tailor’s work include King George III, Sir Winston Churchill, Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, Princess Diana, Cressida Dick and Noel Coward.
But the historic An industry source claims that the British brand has been called ‘collateral harm’ by its Chinese owner as he fights against financial ruin.
1990: Princess Diana, paying tribute to the tailor’s military heritage, arrives at dinner with Royal Hampshire Regiment, Winchester
2019: Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick attends a banquet at Buckingham Palace in a tailored royal blue mess jacket and cummerbund made by Savile Row firm Gieves & Hawkes. The bespoke jacket was made for Ms Dick at a cost of £3,700 soon after she was appointed Commissioner in April 2017, and was worn with a £692 cummerbund, and epaulettes and braiding costing about £500
2019: Phoebe Waller Bridge with Fleabag costar Andrew Scott, on the red carpet at the British Academy Television Awards in London’s Royal Festival Hall. Irish actor Mr Scott sported a black dinner jacket and trousers by Savile Row tailors, Gieves & Hawkes, tied in with a bow tie and a crisp white shirt
2012: Gary Barlow, wearing a grey Gieves & Hawkes suit, is awarded an OBE for services to the entertainment industry and to charity by Queen Elizabeth II during an Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace in central London.
May 2019: A bright pink Gieves & Hawkes two-piece suit, which costs £995, featured in Royal Ascot’s eighth annual Style Guide. This guide helps predict key trends for the summer, and gives inspiration to racegoers looking to look their best while still complying with the Dress Code.
2009: Inside Gieves & Hawkes at Savile Row. According to an industry source, the historic British brand has been deemed ‘collateral damage’ by its Chinese owner in his fight against financial ruin.
2019: Savile Row gin brand ambassador and investor David Gandy. Gieves & Hawkes along with tailors Henry Poole and Turnbull & Asser had last year warned that the industry would be further destabilised by government moves to get rid of VAT-free shopping for international customers
1978: Advertisement for Gieves & Hawkes, published in ‘In Britain’ Magazine. The best chance of finding a buyer for Gieves & Hawkes would be to enter it into liquidation, but the business, which operates from 1 Savile Row and across 58 shops in 25 cities, could meet its end if no one is found
2020: Gieves & Hawkes in Savile Row closed during the second lockdown. Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Tailors had already seen a drop in formal clothing demand.
1997: A view of Gieves & Hawkes in Savile Row. Gieves & Hawkes was formed from two famous companies: Gieves, founded in 1785, and Hawkes, founded in 1771
They added: ‘There’s a good opportunity for an investor to buy a terrific British brand with a lot of heritage.’
Before the coronavirus pandemic, Tailors were already seeing a decline in formal clothing demand.
Gieves & Hawkes along with tailors Henry Poole and Turnbull & Asser had last year warned that the industry would be further destabilised by government moves to get rid of VAT-free shopping for international customers.
Revenue had plummeted by up to 85 per cent at some Savile Row shops as footfall slumped and the travel ban battered international sales, as businesses were still forced to pay landlords ‘between £100,000 and £200,000 a year’ to lease their properties, MailOnline revealed in 2020.
Martin Nicholls, managing director and head cutter at Norton & Sons, 13 Savile Row, and owner of his own store, warned the street as we know it could disappear.
He said it was ‘not feasible’ to pay the mammoth annual rent bills in the current climate and claimed a store needed to make £1million a year to break even.
MailOnline was informed by him that these types of historic places are beginning to disappear. Savile Row could become one of them if they don’t take care, which would be a great shame.
“You have to save Savile Row. It’s one iconic shopping street in the entire world. It’s rare to find a place that is tied to a trade or occupation.
The best chance of finding a buyer for Gieves & Hawkes would be to enter it into liquidation, but the business, which operates from 1 Savile Row and across 58 shops in 25 cities, could meet its end if no one is found.
Trinity had unsuccessfully attempted to appeal against creditors. The winding up order is now in effect.
The future of the brand will be settled in a Hong Kong election on November 4.
Sources said that the company is a strong heritage brand and has been trading well ever since it reopened. The problem has been getting a formal sales process in place. This winding up process should provide certainty.
Liquidators are currently looking for a buyer, and a restructuring company has been called in.