Why are so many classic British brands going downmarket?

Huntsman, at No. 11 Savile Row, was once an understated beacon of good taste. But if you visit today, you are likely to be met by a gaggle of tourists posing for selfies in front of the window across which is splashed in very large letters: ‘The King’s Man, only in cinemas now.’ The tailor, which dressed the Duke of Windsor in his bachelor days, provides both the inspiration and location for this fun, if silly, spy movie franchise, the latest of which stars Ralph Fiennes. Unfortunately, cinematic fame has led to the brand losing its bearings. Pop inside and you are confronted by a selection of what can only

The art of the high street

I can no longer remember when it was that high streets did not all look the same. The architectural writer James Maude Richards bemoaned the disappearance of local character from our shops as early as 1938, but even so he could include a plumassier, submarine engineer and shop of model transport in his winsome introduction to the high street. With the exception of some of the specialists, subs included, these were shops that could still be found in many towns beyond London. Eric Ravilious did the illustrations for the book (which, alongside three of the original prints, is on show at the Arc gallery in Winchester from 18 February to

Why the High Street won’t be another Covid casualty

Can the High Street recover from the Covid crisis? Even before lockdown, around 14 shops were shutting every day, and 2019 was the worst year for sales in a quarter of a century. After months of enforced closure, shops have finally reopened. But with mandatory face masks, social distancing and roped-off fitting rooms – and no indoor cafes, or restaurants to punctuate a day of retail therapy – shopping will be vastly inferior to the pre-Covid experience.  Nonetheless, there are good reasons to be bullish on the future of the high street – and too many commentators are being needlessly gloomy on its prospects. For a start, households have accumulated significant savings during lockdown. By December 2020, Britain’s

Why will so few shops sell me at three-button suit

Last week I walked along Jermyn Street, spiritual home of the gentleman’s suit, and noticed something shocking. The jackets in the shop windows had lots of materials — tweed, cotton, wool — in all colours, shades and checks. But every single jacket had two buttons. When did tailors get so boringly uniform? Why has the three-button suit — the classic style that dominated the 20th century — been wiped off the map? As a diehard three-button man, am I a fogeyish dinosaur, a walking Bateman cartoon: ‘The Man Who Wore a Three-Button Suit in the 21st Century’? I seek solace (and a new three-button suit, in storm- grey, 13-ounce birdseye