Craft / June 2017

Turnbull & Asser: The Great British Shirtmaker

As they breeze through their 13th decade, The Rake explores British shirtmaker Turnbull & Asser, and discovers what makes them such an enduring heritage brand.

A display of shirts in Turnbull & Asser's flagship Jermyn Street store.

There is a particular kind of prestige one feels when entering Turnbull & Asser’s flagship store on Jermyn Street in London. The kind that can only be achieved by possessing a trading history that stretches back more than a century and a heritage that most luxury clothing brands dream of acquiring. Turnbull & Asser is the shirtmaker, the benchmark against which all others, in Britain and beyond, have been measured for most of the 20th century until today.

It’s easy to become charmed by the eccentricity of the brand upon opening the doors of the store. The plush red carpets, mahogany-wood-panelled walls, and burnished Chesterfield sofas are quintessentially British, and herein lies half the appeal. Visiting this place is like stepping into Edwardian London. Some of the beautiful fixtures can be traced to the original opening in 1903, and since that date the fact that Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Michael Caine and Prince Charles have shopped here only furthers the appeal.

All of this would mean nothing, though, if a Turnbull & Asser shirt did not have the same transformative effect on the wearer as a suit does from neighbouring Savile Row. Whether you opt for a ready-to-wear shirt, a ‘stock special’ made-to-measure version, or a full bespoke offering from Turnbull’s separate, albeit next door, Bury Street building, the result will be long lasting. Steven Quin, the brand’s retail director and proud holder of the royal warrant since 1999, explains to The Rake why this might be the case: “Turnbull & Asser is a unique business and has been trading in St James’s for over 130 years. It still holds true to the values of the past, offering great service, attention to detail and good quality British products with great styling.”

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Charlie Thomas

Charlie Thomas is a former staffer at The Rake.