A few weeks ago I spoke with Savile Row tailor Steven Hitchcock while he was on one of his tri-annual New York trips. Though Steven is the son of Anderson & Sheppard’s famous Head Cutter and MD Mr. John Hitchcock, he’s made a name for himself that is really all his own. Here is the first part of our interview.You might think that Steven grew up thinking that, son of John Hitchcock, he was the crown prince of Savile Row. Not so. He left school at 16, unsure of what he wanted to do for a living, and decided to give being a mechanic a go. Luck for us, after only a few weeks his mother suggested he try out a day at the office with dad.
“I didn’t know much about what he did. I didn’t even know Dad was a director then. No idea really.” But after a day at Anderson & Sheppard, Steven was sold. “Someone well-known came in that day. Tom Selleck maybe? I don’t know, Anderson & Sheppard dressed everyone with any style in those days…I thought it would be great to do something with all these important people.”
Dad, if I can call Mr. Hitchcock that, put him to work apprenticing with a coat maker, and after a four or five year stint there, took Steven on as his own apprentice at the cutting table. Steven reflects fondly of working with another Anderson & Sheppard legend, cutter Colin Harvey: “Colin always looked fantastic. Colin offered to cut me a pattern when I started, made me two A&S specials [cloth specially woven for Anderson & Sheppard] and they came out just fantastic. I was 16 and just so pleased with them…After that I was making myself two suits a year.”
All in all, Steven spent almost 10 years training at Anderson & Sheppard before deciding to strike out on his own. ”It was a big change. There I was doing 20-30 [suits] a week, and now I’m doing 3-4. Very different work, but I wanted to step out myself and build a good little business.”
Steven didn’t poach his old Anderson & Sheppard clients when he left, so he really had to start from scratch. Things built up slowly over time, and Steven tells me his second client ever in New York still comes whenever he is in town. ”He still has his suits from ten years ago…it’s ten years ago this trip actually.” When Steven was first starting out, it was clients like this spreading the word that gave him his current client base.
Steven has moved around a number of times in London, always in the vicinity of the Row, and now finds his home in the below-ground floor of No. 13 Savile Row.
His wish of making clothes for very important people has since come true time and time again. In fact, Steven told me that when had the opportunity to make some clothes for HRH The Prince of Wales, the Prince remarked “Steven, I don’t know how you’ve done it, but this almost exactly like what Colin [Harvey] used to make me.” It pays to learn from the best.
Next: Part 2. – Cut, Make, Style
Thank you to Rose Callahan for the photography. Check out The Dandy Portraits.