Renowned as one of the finest bespoke tailors of London’s famous Savile Row, Dege & Skinner was established in 1865 and is still family-owned today. With a rich heritage, it also has the royal seal of approval, as it’s obtained three royal warrants of appointment, Queen Elizabeth II (1984), the Sultan of Oman (1981), and the King of Bahrain (2003), and provides bespoke and military tailoring. No matter the occasion, the experts design, cut, and make all the bespoke clothing at number 10 Savile Row—from business suits, overcoats, and smoking jackets to equestrian clothing and more relaxed leisure garments. Dege & Skinner offers understated, timeless elegance with hours of craftsmanship dedicated to the process. Their expert cutters and tailors spend a minimum of 60-80 man-hours to produce a 3-piece bespoke suit, 55 hours for a 2-piece suit, and approximately 40 hours for a custom coat. It’s no surprise that their customers are always impeccably dressed. Managing Director William Skinner tells us more about Savile Row’s leading tailoring house.

William Skinner, MD, Dege & Skinner,
William Skinner, MD, Dege & Skinner,

Tell us about the heritage of Dege & Skinner.
Established over 150 years ago in 1865, Dege & Skinner is one of Savile Row’s foremost and most respected bespoke tailoring houses. We’re one of only two that remain in family ownership—I’m the fifth generation of the Skinner family to manage the business—and we were also the first to incorporate an in-house bespoke shirt-making service, which continues to this day.

Number 10 Savile Row in central London is home to our sole retail shop and our bespoke tailoring workshop, which operates from the basement and is visible from the street pavement. This workshop houses our dedicated team of world-class makers, each with individual expertise in coat making, trouser making, waistcoat (vest) making, and shirt making. All of Dege & Skinner’s bespoke tailoring and bespoke shirts are cut and made here at Number 10.

To complement the bespoke offering, we launched a ready-to-wear collection in 2016 that sells very well online via our website.

Dege & Skinner, RTW SB blazer
Dege & Skinner, blazer

What’s the USP of the brand?
Being family-owned, customer care and word-of-mouth reputation are crucial for our continued success. Customers tell us they genuinely appreciate the close, trusted, and personal relationship that develops between themselves and their dedicated Cutter. With an in-house bespoke shirt department, based inside the shop itself, customers seem to enjoy ordering shirts along with their bespoke outerwear and seeing shirt patterns being cut to order at Number 10 in the heart of London’s prestigious Savile Row.

Visible from the street pavement, the workshop provides a constant source of interest amongst Londoners and tourists, who are primarily unused to seeing artisan makers creating beautiful items of clothing by hand in the center of a capital city. Savile Row continues to thrill in its uniqueness!

Dege & Skinner, 2 piece suit
Dege & Skinner, 2-piece suit

What are the core pillars of the company?
We truly are a family business, and that ethos runs through the entire team. Our firmly held core values of qualitytrust, investment, and training are at the center of everything we do.

Tell us about the royal connection and the V&A collection.
We’re also world renowned for making military uniforms so often seen during royal and globally televised events, such as Royal Weddings and the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 and, more recently, His Majesty King Charles III.

It might surprise you that our military uniform expert has been here at Dege & Skinner for her entire career, just over 40 years! During her distinguished career, Sarah has worked on some of the most striking and recognizable pieces of military tailoring for which Great Britain is world-renowned. The V&A Museum even included a piece in the 2014 exhibition titled ‘What Is Luxury’? That same piece is now part of the official archive at the Museum.

Bespoke check overcoat
Bespoke check overcoat

You might have seen Prince Harry’s wedding day frock coat when he married Meghan Markle in 2018 and the miniature versions made for the attending Page Boys. Or perhaps, HRH Prince Louis’ much admired doeskin tunic that he wore to the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III. Or the miniature military replica uniforms made at the specific request from The Queen and worn by the four Page Boys who attended her at the Coronation.

Sarah and her colleagues also work on the Tudor-inspired uniforms of The King’s Bodyguard of The Yeoman of the Guard and The Royal Company of Archers, widely seen at numerous high-profile events attended by His Majesty The King in England and Scotland. It’s for the work on these specific historic uniforms that Dege & Skinner holds the treasured Royal Warrant.

Dinner Suit, Dege & Skinner
Dinner Suit, Dege & Skinner

Which markets do you best in, and where are you looking to expand?
We somewhat pioneered the concept of Savile Row taking its trade over to the USA back in the 1960s, when my father, the current Chairman, was tasked with building up trade across the pond by his father. So, overseas Trunk Shows still contribute a significant level of trade for us, and we’re now scheduling regular trunk shows across America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and the Far East. Most recently we’ve seen increased demand for our services in Hong Kong and Singapore, with Japan continuing to deliver a strong order book for our bespoke departments. If the demand is there, we can travel to meet it!

QEST-London Craft Week_Dan Weill Photography
QEST-London Craft Week_Dan Weill Photography

What is QEST?
It’s 40 years since military tailoring specialist Sarah Wilkinson joined Dege & Skinner, and her sewing and embroidery skills remain a rarity, even here on Savile Row. Joining the company in August 1983, at just sixteen years old, Sarah successfully applied for a scholarship from the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) in 1993, enabling her to learn metal thread embroidery at the Royal School of Needlework, based at Hampton Court. These rare skills bring a unique level of expertise to the team here at Dege & Skinner.

As Sarah’s career illustrates so clearly, investment in training to the level required of one of Savile Row‘s foremost bespoke tailors is business critical to a century-and-a-half-old business such as ours and the bespoke tailoring trade in general. We’re currently training three apprentices, all of whom coincidentally happen to be women, working across three different areas of expertise.

bespoke sports coat, Dege & Skinner
bespoke sports coat, Dege & Skinner

What have been your career highlights to date?
For me, there are a lot!

  • Instigating trunk shows in the Far East, traveling to see clients in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan while maintaining and expanding the bespoke Trunk Shows to the USA, Europe, the Middle East, and the UK.
  • Taking on the uniform and evening wear requirements of the Royal Company of Archers, the King’s Bodyguard for Scotland
  • Making clothes for the singer Michael Jackson, David Bowie, U.S. President George HW Bush, and author Tom Clancy
  • Over the course of my tenure at Dege & Skinner, the company has trained 19 apprentices, the majority of whom are still working for us or are still in the Savile Row Community. This effort helps to maintain the skills required for bespoke tailoring and shirt making.
  • The company celebrated its 150th Anniversary in 2015 and the introduction of the Dege & Skinner Ready to Wear collection in 2016.