Chester Barrie is a gentleman’s tailor located at No 19 Savile Row, London. Founded in 1935 by English tailor Simon Ackerman, Chester Barrie was the first Savile Row tailoring house to bring ready-to-wear clothing to “the Row”, making a Savile Row suit within the grasp of a whole new customer for the very first time.
When – At the turn of the 20th century, Simon Ackerman left England for New York City. Having built up a high-priced, quality tailoring business in and around New York, in 1935 he decided that he wanted to import quality British-made suits for the US market.
Returning to London in 1935, he started producing suits from a shop on Savile Row in London in 1937. Ackerman, as well as offering bespoke tailoring, introduced the idea of ready to wear popular in the United States but new to the UK at the time. While the rest of Savile Row was still wholly bespoke, Chester Barrie were quickly equalling the volume of suits sold by every other tailor on the Row. At that time the Liverpool was the main point of shipment for goods to the United States, and so Ackerman decided that a factory to fulfil the demands of his business should be based in North West England. Choosing Crewe in Cheshire, close to the first class mills of Huddersfield, the factory opened in Chestnut Grove under the brand Chester Barrie, based on combining the name of local town of Chester and Barrie after JM Barrie. Whose name, Ackerman thought, sounded particularly English.
Today, the shop at number 19 acts as a flagship for the brand, showing the clothes and accessories at their best and serving an international clientele. Chester Barrie was an independent business for over 40 years up to 1978 when it became part of the Austin Reed Group, which continued to develop the brand and took it into licensing. In 2000 it was sold on again and passed through a number of hands before Prominent Europe, fashion and retail specialists, took over in 2007 with the intent of returning it to its former glory.
All Chester Barrie cutting is still done by hand, although to average measurements rather than a pattern designed for the individual customer. This enables Chester Barrie to still supply semi-bespoke suits under the brand name on Savile Row and some other selected outlets. Chester Barrie currently have multiple concessions in selected House Of Fraser departmental stores, where they offer their ready-to-wear tailoring but also a Made To Measure service, taking their brand outside of London to the wider public. Namely the following – Belfast, Cheltenham, Glasgow, Guildford, London City, Manchester and Norwich. There are also departments in; Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge, London; John Lewis in Oxford Street, London; Austin Reed, Regent Street, London and Peter Jones on Sloane Square, London.
Lighter fabrics, innovative blends and a far softer structure have ushered in a more relaxed form of dressing, which Chester Barrie has embraced. The brand will be turning its tailor’s eye to a broader product range, extending the style aesthetic to include more relaxed pieces, such as knitwear, casual outwear and trousers. But all the while, it is maintaining its commitment to quality and luxury.
Influences for the season include military menswear and riding clothing, but strongest of all is a Rat Pack theme, which inspired their Jan presentation at London Collections Men. Highlight tones of teal and berry bring life to a winter palette of charcoal, camel slate and rich navy.
The most eye-catching element of the collection is a range of eveningwear in lush cotton/cashmere/silk velvet and wool/mohair with bold shawl collars and turn-back cuffs. But it is the trouser range which is the most innovative. A five-pocket jeans style has been re-created in tailoring cloths while flat fronted trousers feature a subtle jetted half-frog mouth pocket, giving them a much cleaner shape.
On a more formal level, jackets in pure cashmere have a drape and handle that provides a strong element of luxury. While suits in a lush flannel bring extra depth to the collection. Stand out coats include a Change Coat designed to be worn without a jacket.
Over the years customers have included Sir Winston Churchill, Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra, who were attracted by the brand’s classic tailoring, beautiful fabrics and fine attention to detail. Today’s customers come from the worlds of business, finance and academia as well as the arts and media. Chester Barrie have been the official tailors for the Olivier Awards for the last two years dressing presenters, nominees and winners including Rory Kinnear, Mark Gatiss, Arthur Darvill, Dan Stevens, Hugh Bonneville, Lenny Henry & Robert Lyndsey.
Chester Barrie are the official tailors to the Leicester Tigers rugby team, dressing the entire squad including England Internationals and British Lions Tom Croft and Manu Tuilagi. Not an easy task given the shapes and sizes of the players…
Chester Barrie is working hard to reposition themselves as a modern tailor meeting customers’ needs for formal and casual wear. Their goal is to getting customers to understand that Chester Barrie are more than just suits, embracing a slightly more casual market while still offering quality and attention to detail.
View the full collection at: chesterbarrie.co.uk