There is a crisis on Savile Row. How do we know? Well, a big neon sign emblazoned with that very word is currently stopping traffic as it’s gingerly manoeuvred across that august thoroughfare. And it is a welcome crisis, for it heralds the return of the world’s most stylishly stocked pre-Christmas pop-up store, in aid of the eponymous homeless charity.
Those doing the manoeuvring are the brains behind the enterprise: stylist and writer (and Rake contributor) Tom Stubbs, rocking his loose, louche, Antony Price-meets-Lofty-from-It-Ain’t-Half-Hot-Mum look, and the always impeccably tailored Anda Rowland, of Anderson & Sheppard. This is the second year they’ve overseen the venture, which they’re calling ‘A Call to Garms’. Last year, the garms in question included samples, excess stock, display pieces and bespoke one-offs from Savile Row stalwarts including Anderson & Sheppard, Gieves & Hawkes, Chittleborough & Morgan and Richard James, alongside T-shirts and knitwear from Sunspel, Smedley and Trunk, and bags, shoes and accessories from Vivienne Westwood, Globe Trotter and Jimmy Choo. What turned out to be the classiest rummage sale ever raised more than £70,000 for Crisis over its nine-day lifespan.
“There was no planning and no prep,” says Stubbs, settling himself on a sofa in the Anderson & Sheppard Haberdashery, while trying to divert his attention from Loose Women, which is playing on the T.V. monitor behind us. “We had just a couple of weeks from conception to opening day.”
“No spreadsheets, no budget, no targets, no clue what would happen,” says Rowland, pulling up a chair. “But we had Tom’s enthusiasm… ”
“… and Anda’s retail nous,” puts in Stubbs. “The Pollen Estate very kindly let us have the premises, and I did a massive open email to all my contacts and friends with every bastard showing — a real stand-up-and-be-counted kind of thing. And then we opened the doors, and all this goodwill rushed in.”
Rowland: “Every day there were new arrivals, like at a fishmonger’s. One-off Vivienne Westwood bags, beautiful Sunspel T-shirts, showroom clear-outs. Grind Coffee set up a stall, we had makeshift fitting rooms hung with shower curtains… ”
Stubbs: “It was very, ‘Let’s do the show right here’.”
Rowland: “We got a lot of people in who work in the area, but aren’t your usual Savile Row constituency: people who manage the parking, who deal with the traffic, those for whom these establishments are normally off-limits. They were buying Christmas presents, and they were like, ‘Finally I can afford some of this stuff’.”
Stubbs: “Because, bottom line, we had top markdowns.”