Bespoke and Military Tailoring Since 1771
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An Introduction to the Gieves & Hawkes Brand
The Gieves & Hawkes brand was formed from the merging of two long-standing Savile Row tailors, both with an impressive heritage (see the timeline snapshot). Hawkes, founded in 1771 and Gieves, founded in 1785, joined forces in 1974 when Gieves acquired the Hawkes brand along with the freehold of No. 1 Savile Row, probably the most famous menswear address in the world.
The Gieves & Hawkes’ business originally focused on military tailoring for the officer classes of the Royal Navy and British Army, which both tailors had extensive experience in. It was this expertise in creating military uniforms which formed the basis for their long relationship with the Royal family, which still exists today in the brand’s holding of three Royal Warrants. The brand’s focus eventually shifted to bespoke menswear tailoring for the most discerning of London gentleman. However, the brand still continues to produce uniforms for the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force via Gieves & Hawkes Military.
Gieves & Hawkes Military – Specialising in Officer Uniforms
Since entering the world of bespoke men’s tailoring, the brand has continued to expand. As of 2011, its product range had grown to include the finest quality of bespoke tailoring, a full range of military clothing and accessories, and a ready to wear boutique brand Gieves consisting of formal, business and casual wear. The brand’s flagship store still remains on No. 1 Savile Row, which also house bespoke workrooms, designs and management teams. No 1. Savile Row is the pinnacle of a UK retail network, which also includes 14 stores and concessions along with a successful e-commerce site. The brand also has an impressive international presence with nearly 100 stores and concessions in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan.
The Company has close to 100 shops and concessions in the UK and in Asia and is a founding member of Savile Row Bespoke. Its product range stretches from the finest Bespoke Tailoring, through to Personal Tailoring (or ‘made-to-measure’), to a full range of formal, military, business and casual ready-to-wear.
The Gieves & Hawkes Flagship Store at No. 1 Savile Row
Gieves & Hawkes: A Timeline Snapshot
- 1760: Thomas Hawkes arrives in London and begins working as a runner for a Savile Row velvet hat maker. The cap-maker, Mr Moy, was a notorious drunk, leaving Hawkes free to poach away his aristocratic clientele.
- 1771: Mr Moy passes away and Thomas Hawkes opens his own bespoke tailoring store on Brewer Street.
- 1805: James Gieve begins working for Old Mel’ Meredith; the Portsmouth-based tailor by appointment to the Royal Navy. Interestingly, Meredith tailored the uniform Nelson is killed in at the Battle of Trafalgar.
- 1809: Thomas Hawkes receives his first Royal Warrant of Appointment for HRH King George III.
- 1850: Thomas Hawkes hands over his business to his nephews and Hawkes & Co. is being run by H. T. White.
- 1852: James Gieve enters a partnership with Joseph Galt (established in 1823 and incorporating Meredith) creating Galt & Gieves.
- 1866: Famous explorer, Dr Livingstone wears Gieves tailoring on his quest to discover the origin of the Nile.
- 1887: James Gieve becomes the sole owner of Galt & Gieves and renames the brand Gieves & Co.
- 1912: Hawkes & Co. purchase No. 1 Savile Row from the Royal Geographical Society and convert the premises to suit the needs of a bespoke tailor. In the same year, Hawkes is appointed to dress the Monarch’s nearest bodyguard, the Honorable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms.
- 1923: King George V, the Prince of Wales and the Dukes of York, Gloucester and Kent all wear uniforms tailored by Gieves at the wedding of The Duke of York (future King George VI) to Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (future Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother).
- 1926: Gieves & Co. added a ready-to-wear collection to their product line for the first time.
- 1940: In an unusual move, Gieves is approached by an interesting character, Charles Frazer-Smith to develop compass buttons, cavity buttons that concealed explosives, poison pellets, maps printed on silk, and cap badges concealing serrated wires on a ring pull (known as Gigli saws) for British espionage agents on active duty in Germany and occupied France.
- 1947: H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh wears Gieves when he marries Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen of England).
- 1974: Gieves Ltd acquires Hawkes along with the freehold of No. 1 Savile Row and become Gieves & Hawkes.
- 1981: Gieves & Hawkes creates the uniform Prince Charles wears when he marries Lady Diana Spencer.
Prince Charles Wearing Gieves & Hawkes on His Wedding Day to Princess Diana.
- 1980’s: Gieves & Hawkes signs a licensing agreement with the New York based manufacturer Hickey Freeman, to produce a version of their menswear throughout North America.
- 1997: Former Dunhill executive, Mark Henderson is appointed as Managing Director of Gieves & Hawkes.
- 2002: A poor year’s trading results in a £1 million loss for Gieves & Hawkes. The brand agrees to a takeover bid from Hong Kong based group, USI Holdings in a deal which values Gieves & Hawkes at $11.5 million. At the time, a group of investors clustered around USI Holdings already controlled 71% of the brand. Additionally, this takeover bid sees the end of the licensing agreement with Hickey Freeman.
- 2004: Gieves & Hawkes are one of the founding members of Savile Row Bespoke, an organisation to represent the interests of the bespoke tailors of Savile Row. Other founding members include Anderson & Sheppard, Dege & Skinner, Henry Pool, Richard James and Norton & Sons.
- 2005: Once again, Geives & Hawkes is called upon to create suits for a royal wedding – this time they create the morning coats for Prince William and Prince Harry to wear at the wedding of their father Prince Charles to Camilla Parker-Bowles.
- 2006: Gieves, the Gieves & Hawkes boutique brand designed by Joe Casely-Hayford, is shown on the catwalk during Paris Fashion Week for the first time.
- 2007: Sadly, Robert Gieve, the fifth and last generation of the family to work for the Gieves & Hawkes dies. The following year a new archive room at No. 1 Savile Row, curated by James Sherwood, is dedicated to his memory.
- 2008: Gieves & Hawkes signs a new licensing agreement with Hickey Freeman to produce and sell the brand’s goods in North America.
- 2009: The brand teams up with British Formula 1 team, Brawn GP creating the teams’ official formal suits – a grey single breasted, two button mohair suit with a white shirt and distinctive team coloured tie.
- 2010: Gieves & Hawkes works with a womenswear label for the first time in collaboration with London-based label Preen, to create the tailoring for Preen’s Autumn/Winter 2010 collection. The Gieves & Hawkes contribution to the collection was evident in the mannish, tailored trouser suits and jackets. Also this year Gieves & Hawkes joined forces with footwear brand Harry’s of London to create a capsule collection of men’s rubber soled loafers and desert boots.
- 2011: Barry Tulip, formerly of Dunhill and Zegna, joins Gieves & Hawkes as the new Design Director. His first full collection for Gieves & Hawkes will be for the Autumn/Winter 2012 season. Also this year Gieves & Hawkes is chosen to create Prince William’s RAF uniform for his wedding to Kate Middleton in April.
Following in His Father’s Footsteps: Prince William Wearing Gieves & Hawkes on His Wedding Day to Kate Middleton.
The Famous Faces of Gieves & Hawkes
The previous and current client list of Gieves & Hawkes reads very much like a who’s who list of political figures, celebrities and royalty. Customers from the past and the present have included, Admiral Nelson (who was wearing Gieves & Hawkes when he received his fatal wounding at the Battle of Trafalgar), Winston Churchill, the Duke of Wellington, Charlie Chaplin, Robbie Williams, Michael Jackson, Mikhail Gorbachev, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
Gieves & Hawkes uniforms have been worn by royalty at many a royal occasion or royal wedding, including the most recent wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton. In fact Gieves & Hawkes have a long-standing relationship with the Royal family that has persisted for over 200 years, since 1809 when Hawkes received their first Royal Warrant from King George III. As of 2011, Gieves & Hawkes are proud to be one of the handfuls of companies to hold three Royal Warrants – from HM The Queen, HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.
The Future of Gieves & Hawkes
In September of 2011, Gieves & Hawkes had sold its London flagship store at the most famous menswear address in the world, No. 1 Savile Row, which the brand had owned for 99 years. According to the Sunday Times, the British tailor had sold its freehols on No. 1 Savile Row for £8.5 million, to a group controlled by Hong Kong-based parent compan, Wing Tai Propertied. Additionally, Gieves & Hawkes closed eight of their concessions, seven of which were in House of Fraser’s throughout the country. It now has four concessions remainin in Selfridges and Harvey Nichols as well as ten stores. According to accounts filed at Companies House the business made a £2.4m loss in the year to December 2010 with £15.6m turnover down from £16.6m the previous year.
These recent events could suggest that the future of Gieves & Hawkes is uncertain or perhaps that they are the latest victim of the economic downturn – only time will tell.
Visit the official Gieves & Hawkes website here.