Celebrating Gieves & Hawkes

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Although the amalgamation of separate houses Gieves and Hawkes has only stood for the past 40 years, their history of supplying the uniforms for the British Royal Navy and British Army dates back to the 18th century. They have supplied ten generations of British royalty and they include Admiral Lord Nelson and Field Marshal The Duke of Wellington among their most famous customers, so it is clear to see why the brand’s Savile Row success is still apparent today.

1771 – Hawkes becomes an apprentice to a hatter in London before establishing his own business selling hats, military headgear and accoutrements. He later receives royal endorsement from King George III and Queen Charlotte for velvet caps, an investment which gained him clientele including Royal Dukes and Senior Ranking officers.

1785 – Gieve is established in Portsmouth High Street at a tailoring shop owned by Melchisedek Meredith, attracting high-ranking naval officers to be measured and fitted for their uniforms.

1841 to 1850 – Joseph Galt takes over Meredith’s flourishing business and goes into partnership with the first James Gieve. During this time Gieve kits out a yacht as a tailoring workshop.

1850 to 1887 – Continuing in his father’s success, James Watson Gieve follows on to serve uniform to navel cadets including Queen Victoria’s son, King Edward VII, who requests Gieves to equip his two sons, one of whom is to become King George V.

1903 to 1927 – In this period Gieves kits out around 98% of naval officer cadets, leading to almost four thousand potential customers. It is also in this period that Gieves receives personal warrant from King George V, which leads to the company’s creation of RAF uniforms for the Royal family. After WWI, both companies also begin to add civilian clothing and ready-to-wear to their collections.

1912 – Meanwhile, in the early 19th century, Thomas Hawkes also discovers an important leather treatment, leading to the development of helmets which could be appropriately used by the British army in hot countries. Hawkes’s creation of safari uniforms then leads to the unity of Hawkes and Gieves, as – wearing Hawkes attire – explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley famously discovers pioneer Dr David Livingstone, who is wearing a Gieves consular cap. Furthermore, in 1912, Hawkes acquires the premises of the Royal Geographical Society at No. 1 Savile row.

1974 – Having both served separately for the British Royal Navy and British Army, Gieves eventually acquires Hawkes in 1974, and the houses become one in their new Savile Row store. The unification of their craftsmanship enjoys continued success into the modern day, supplying royal houses around the world as well as public figures such as Michael Jackson.

They also continue to supply and maintain the uniforms of Queen Elizabeth II’s personal bodyguard.

by Abi Buller

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