Bespoke tailors Anderson & Sheppard in Hong Kong for trunk show of their traditional British men’s tailoring
Anda Rowland, daughter of buccaneering British businessman ‘Tiny’ Rowland, talks about preserving the bespoke menswear tradition while staying relevant in luxury fashion today
Anderson & Sheppard senior jacket cutter Leon Powell parades proudly in his perfectly fitted dark blue wool suit. “It comes down to the softness around the shoulders,” says Anda Rowland, owner of the bespoke London-based tailor.
Powell cut his teeth at Anderson & Sheppard and is in Hong Kong with Rowland and senior trouser cutter Oliver Spencer for the brand’s first trunk show in the city at Attire House, while also taking appointment-only fittings.
Founded in 1906 by Per Gustav Anderson of Sweden – then bought by the late Roland “Tiny” Rowland in the late 1970s – Anderson & Sheppard began life on London’s Savile Row as a bit of a renegade. Anderson trained under Dutch master cutter and tailor Frederick Scholte, who pioneered the English drape style in menswear, a style that was considered then a reaction against the more common and restrictive Victorian military tailoring. “Our cut is very soft,” says Rowland.
Rowland was given the task of reviving Anderson & Sheppard in 2004 when her father died. Armed with her experience working at Estée Lauder and Parfums Christian Dior, Rowland aired out the fusty brand and refurbished the store with Jérôme Faillant-Dumas, who runs the boutique design agency L.O.V.E in Paris.
“I was fortunate because I came in at a pivotal time when the boutique was about to relocate,” she says. Rowland exceeded expectations by putting Anderson & Sheppard back on the map of bespoke menswear not only in England, but the wider world. “Our team is extremely modest. It is a very British thing. If someone less discreet comes in and starts talking about it, that puts the name out there. And that was my job,” she says with a laugh.
Anderson & Sheppard served royalty in its heyday; Edward VIII was a long-standing patron. Actors Laurence Olivier, Charlie Chaplin and Gary Cooper were among the celebrities who frequented the wood-panelled workshops and cutting room of the discreetly elegant boutique. The late enfant terrible of British fashion, Alexander McQueen, cut his teeth there at the age of 16.
Anderson & Sheppard has since expanded to a ready-to-wear outlet just around the corner. Rowland says the separation is intentional, “so that the bespoke DNA does not run the risk of getting lost in the ready-to-wear”. This line is also available at Attire House in Hong Kong.
Anderson & Sheppard’s senior cutters, who fly twice a year to New York to serve clients, are also in Hong Kong for the first time.
So why Hong Kong? “We have a lot of good customers in Hong Kong who have been going to London very often. Brandon [Chau] and Roger [Chan, founders of Attire House] are among them, so it’s fantastic because they already understand the brand. It makes sense for us to come out here. We have friends here in Hong Kong,” says Rowland.
Asked if Anderson & Sheppard plans to make womenswear, Rowland is quick to reject the idea. “It is best to do what we are known for very well, and not be everything to everyone. We don’t want to be second best.”