I arrive at 40 Savile Row, under the watchful eye of tailoring giants Gieves & Hawkes and Huntsman & Sons, which have resided on this street since the early 20th century. Newbies are considered to be the likes of Ozwald Boateng, who famously opened his store on the street in 2002. Yes, 21 years ago. A stone’s throw away from the Royal Academy of Arts, occupying a quiet corner of Mayfair that runs parallel to Regent Street, I have arrived in London’s heartland of men’s fashion.

“The Row” has been the mecca for aficionados of bespoke tailoring since Henry Poole set up shop in the late 1840s, and has remained a constant place of inspiration for tailors, fashion designers and artisans alike (McQueen famously got his start on “The Row” before he studied fashion design). And from within No. 40 on the storied street, I’m unsurprised to find out that this is the landmark where Rav Matharu acquired vital inspiration for his brand clothsurgeon, which opened its doors last summer.

“The first thing I came across when I was looking into craftsmanship at university was Savile Row. So I started exploring what Savile Row was and how they approached making products differently to what I had seen growing up,” he tells Because. “My aim was to apply that workmanship through a contemporary lens, reimaging what bespoke is.”

The former professional footballer spent his adolescence in locker rooms and on the pitch, which is where his interest in fashion obsession began. “It started off with sneakers,” he says, “I would take my sketchbook to games and sit and draw football boots.” With age, the designer's love for trainers evolved into an appreciation for menswear and tailoring, referencing design mavericks like Raf Simons and Comme des Garçons, which led to the launch of clothsurgeon back in 2010. “In my second year at university, I always used to cut my patterns with a scalpel blade as opposed to scissors, my tutor at the time called me the cloth surgeon and it kind of stuck.”

Since then, Rav has grown a cult-like following, with Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky and Drake alongside celebrities Kevin Hart, Riz Ahmed and FKA Twigs amongst his client list. His “bespoke streetwear” offers the fashion-forward an everyday alternative to the tailored two-piece. 

Customers are invited into the store to work directly with the team to create a piece or build a bespoke wardrobe, all reframing streetwear with a tailoring sensibility. The shops on the rail offering consists of tweeds, cashmeres and sweats, all made with the utmost attention to detail in the brand East London-based atelier where Rav spends most of his time.

Over 10 years later, the brand’s stature and relevance has grown as it’s moved with the tumultuous times. “Awareness of fast fashion’s damaging effect on the planet is a big topic that contributes to the way people are shopping now,” says Rav, “Our approach is a more sustainable solution – it's made just for the customer. Only a certain amount of fabric is bought per project and there is very minimal wastage.”

The brand also upcycles the offcuts to create patchwork details or whole garments, which are then sold on the rail to other customers. “The longevity of that product stands the test of time and it helps that our designs are usually timeless and classic, designs that can be passed on and that last longer than most,” he says.

Towards the end of our conversation, I spot a sparkling-yet-vintage Air Jordan sneaker over the designer's left shoulder. Standing proudly on its threadbare cardboard box that speaks to its age, I’m intrigued to find out where they came from; feeling rather out of place in the polished store. “They are actually the original pair from when I was a kid, which I never wore and then grew out of. They’re from 1992, so they kind of tell their own story,” he says.

Rav accredits aspirational Air Jordans as a big part of where his understanding of the power of products came from. “I remember not even knowing who Michael Jordan was and what he did, but still wanting a pair of Jordan so badly – they were so special to me.” Rav has aimed to bring this level of desirability to his own clothes through the cultivation community.

“Having that community and space for people to come into and create with the brand and feeling part of it has been so important. After 10 years, we have an actual space now for people to engage with,” he says.

As the first South Asian-owned shop on Savile Row, Rav and his team have not only finally created a physical plot for the brand to flourish but have also made history on the street – challenging what Savile Row and tailoring mean to people today in more ways than one.

Find out more at clothsurgeon.com...

By Augustine Hammond