It’s time to crack open a bottle of the best bubbly and make a toast – this September, Alexandra Wood is celebrating her tenth anniversary as a Savile Row tailor.
With a continually fresh take on men’s style and quickly expanding influence on connoisseurs of British bespoke suits, Alexandra remains true to her mission of making Savile Row sexy. Her suits and business success have featured in local and national media including Nu Bride, Exquisite, Mod Wedding, Wedding Ideas, Muddy Stilettos, GQ, Manporium, Huffington Post, Axis, The Guardian, Hello, Esquire and ITV
Here she takes time out to reflect on ten incredible years of helping men look their absolute best.
Where did your tailoring career begin?
I studied fashion styling, photography, and pattern cutting at the London College of Fashion. I then worked for Shanghai Tang in Knightsbridge as manager of their bespoke tailoring department where I’d create handmade oriental pieces for ladies. After the birth of my daughter, I decided to create my own business.
What motivated you to become a tailor?
I really enjoy working with men and love men’s clothing. I feel a real affinity for the clean lines and simplicity of a man’s wardrobe.
Do you feel you are closer to your aim of making Savile Row sexy?
Yes, I do. We have a great following who love our limited-edition collections (which can be found instore and online). I get very excited when I come up with each new range because it keeps with the ethos of bespoke but I can be a little braver with the designs and stay true to my own style. Initially, people said to me: “Do men want to be called sexy? Isn’t that a bit strong?” But it’s working for us and really sets us apart. A lot of men love it and have said that sexy is exactly what they are all about. And from a female angle, it works perfectly: women want to see their men look and feel sexy, too.
What changes have you seen in men’s style and tailoring over the last ten years?
Men are definitely experimenting more often – people want their own unique pieces, which is why we’ve had such success with the limited edition collections. Men are much braver with mixing and matching their colours, fabrics and patterns now – wearing a green suit with a blue shirt would have been absurd a few years ago. But in general, men are a lot more style conscious and savvy which is influencing Savile Row and fashion industry as a whole.
What have been your proudest moments in the last ten years?
There are so many! The loyalty and support I’ve received from my amazing customers are definitely at the top of my list. Some have been coming to me since I started and won’t go anywhere else. I think they are proud of the success of Alexandra Wood too.
I’m really proud that the business has all been self-funded so far. I started the business with an initial £1000 investment and have since opened two stores – Bishop’s Stortford in 2016 and Shoreditch store in 2017 – in addition to my Savile Row showroom. Running three locations is a huge challenge, but one that I’m definitely thrilled to be tackling.
Other moments that stick in my mind include:
- Being featured in an article by Tony Parsons for GQ
- Being the designer behind Chukka Umunna’s place in GQ’s list of 50 Best Dressed Men in Britain 2016
- Launching my limited-edition collections
I’ve also been lucky enough to have my suits worn by some high-profile gents including Wimbledon tennis player Marcus Willis who opened our Bishop’s Stortford store. We created the suit he wore for the Personality of the Year Awards and also for his wedding (as shown in Hello Magazine). One of our suit designs was worn to Prince George’s christening; I provided the jacket, trousers and pocket square for Strictly Come Dancing’s Aljaž for his Hello Magazine shoot with his wife Jannette; and dressed the groom and best man for This Morning’s Wedding of the Year on ITV in 2016.
*You can view photos and read more about these stores on our press and media page.
Do you believe there is still a glass ceiling for women who are in men’s tailoring in Britain?
Yes, but I don’t care. I don’t see things as gender-specific – everything is a potential challenge in business regardless of your gender. I like doing what I do and that’s all that matters. The idea that I’m in a male-dominated industry doesn’t put me off, but it doesn’t spur me on either – I just get on with it. I can’t change people’s opinions so I’ll do it anyway!
Is there a career message you want to send to women?
If you are starting a business really think about your market – planning and knowing who you are marketing to is so important. Then test! Look at what money you’ve got and start one step at a time. Testing is so important.
From a mental point of view, you have to be 100% committed. If it’s what you want, make the time for it. Yes, it’s tough: right from the beginning of the business I’ve also been bringing up three kids but you just crack on and get into it. Finally, you need balls on a daily basis because sometimes it’s bloody hard. You will question yourself a lot – battle those mind monkeys and keep going.
Now that your Shoreditch has opened, what’s next for Alexandra Wood?
A break! I want to concentrate on building on my current offering and expanding the limited edition collections which come out every three to four months. I’d also like to partner with other boutiques and stores and have a membership programme in the pipeline for my customers. As they say, stay tuned…