Lock & Co Hatters
6 St. James's Street, SW1A 1EF
Kerry Ford is the Managing Director of Russell & Hodge. He has been making bespoke Jermyn Street shirts for 20 years. Kerry takes pride in the traditions of English shirt making and you can see this for yourself if you visit the Russell & Hodge shop. At the back of the shop are two banks of sewing machines skilfully staffed by Kerry’s team.
“Did you know that, apart from Russell & Hodge, there is only one other bespoke shirt maker manufacturing in the UK — the rest are produced mainly in India and the Far East. It’s actually getting quite difficult to find the real thing. You don’t have to know anything about shirts to sell them”.
Rather like a wine buff sniffing a cork, Kerry reckons he could almost trace the cotton he buys back to the field it came from. “Ask the average shirt maker where their cotton comes from and where their fabric is woven and 90% of them won’t have a clue — but the good ones will”.
Now there is no denying that the pursuit of this quality does not come cheap, but, on the same basis a low cost shirt will not last like a Russell & Hodge product.
“You can buy a cheap shirt that might OK to the untrained eye the first time you have it on, but after the first wash it will be a mess. Our shirts will only get better with time. The material will get softer and we allow for shrinkage so it keeps its fit. All our shirts go through the machine twice for extra strength. You can buy machines that are specially designed to produce something that looks like a proper Jermyn Street shirt, with plenty of detailing, but most of it is just for show. It’s not the real thing”.
Or take the humble button. Or perhaps not so humble. Kerry’s are made from Mother of Pearl. “It is easy to save £2 a shirt by using plastic buttons, but it isn’t the same thing”.
It is this eye for details that has lead to Russell and Hodge making shirts for a list of stars that sounds like an Oscar nominations role call. There is Bill Murray, Kevin Cline, Mickey Rouke, Anthony Hopkins, Keith Richards, Michael Douglas, Tom Cruise, and Tom Hanks, who can soon be seen sporting a Russell and Hodge in the Da Vinci Code film.
There is a similar story to tell in the sporting world with names such as English cricket hero Freddie Flintoff, boxers Lennox Lewis and Christ Eubank and style icon (and footballer) David Beckham who actually got married in a shirt made by Kerry and his crew.
Make no mistake, these guys know how to look good and it is the expertise of the measurers and cutters in Kerry Ford’s unique establishment that produce the understated English style that is the quintessential Jermyn Street Shirt.