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History

The Kilgour Manifesto

Design is the watchword at Kilgour. As a Savile Row house, with all the heritage this implies, skill and craftsmanship and quality are a given. What, then, can it add to that solid foundation with its roots in the English tradition of tailoring excellence? What happens when you take the classic menswear code, created in Savile Row, and then interpret it in a genuinely contemporary way?

At Kilgour, under the guidance of Creative Director Carlo Brandelli, the emphasis is on a modern, discreet, purist aesthetic, which prizes texture over colour, and line and proportion over embellishment. In the geometry and architecture of these clothes, there is British reserve as well as evidence of an essential global design lexicon. Distilling ideas of abstraction, symmetry and balance, and working in particular with the device of the dot, or circle, Kilgour is not retrospective at all. It treats its glorious past with respect while looking resolutely to the future.

Craft is used to achieve modernity, never to pastiche the past. The approach is scientific and systematic. These are clothes engineered to be functional and comfortable.
And to look effortlessly chic. Chic is not a quality often associated with British menswear, but Brandelli – an Anglo-Italian – cites primary influences that include contemporary art, architecture, design, typography and music, which lend the end result a sensual rigour that speaks of a quiet self-confidence, and an intelligent approach to fashion. The man in the Kilgour suit will always be the best-dressed in the room, but he will blend with the shadows, and nobody will know what he is wearing.

Since opening its doors in 1880, Kilgour has been an exponent of the finest sartorial craftsmanship. Over the years, it has established itself as a tailor that embraces change. Its better-known clientele includes elegant dressers such as Cary Grant and Fred Astaire, and in more recent times, the likes of actors Jude Law and Daniel Craig, designer Karl Lagerfeld, architect David Adjaye and graphic designer Peter Saville.

The company was founded in 1880 as T & F French. Well established in Piccadilly, and with an exclusive London based clientele, the business merged with A.H. Kilgour in 1923 to form Kilgour & French. In 1925, Fred and Louis Stanbury joined and introduced an elegance of cut that has remained the foundation of the house style to this day. Such was their influence that, in 1937, the business changed its name to Kilgour, French and Stanbury.

The brand became Kilgour in 2003 under the stewardship of Brandelli, who injected a modern spirit into the traditional Savile Row artisanal practices of the house. Harnessing the tailoring knowledge and expertise forged on the Row over the previous century, Brandelli used his own background as a contemporary fashion designer to fuse two different design codes to create the street’s first genuinely modern aesthetic.

Now, in the second decade of the 21st century, Kilgour is the choice of men who want style informed by the past but not shackled to it, and look to the future without wanting to appear as if they are looking too hard.

Peter Howarth
Editor of The Times LUXX Report: Men’s Style

 

Images: Cary Grant (Alamy),
Campaign Image (Nick Knight)