Intangible cultural heritage in fashion marketing: from Number 1 Savile Row to the world

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


UNESCO recognizes local craft knowledge and skills in its global system of ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ which has been adopted by Shanghai and Hong Kong to recognize their tailoring traditions (Legco, 2014). In London’s Mayfair, Savile Row has long been the physical and spiritual home of men’s tailoring; the street having such a strong resonance with the trade practiced there that the Japanese word for tailoring is ‘Savile Row’ ( 背広 ) (Cress, 2011). Savile Row has faced an uncertain future against the threats of fast fashion and off-shoring, but is currently enjoying a renaissance with new businesses opening and the forming of trade associations such as the Savile Row Bespoke Association (Savile Row Bespoke Association, 2015) to protect and promote the tailoring craft as practiced on this most famous of addresses. The fashion industry has seen the prevalence of rebrands, relaunches and revivals and London Collections Men has drawn the fashion media’s attention to London’s cultural heritage as embodied in the bespoke suits of the Savile Row tailor. Heritage brands such as Burberry and Dunhill found success internationally, highlighting heritage and craftsmanship and placing this at the centre of marketing strategies facilitated by digital media. Fashion is often defined as ephemeral (Craik, 1993) yet heritage and authenticity are key drivers for fashion consumers (Kapferer and Bastien 2012); brand positioning around artisanship, ingredient branding and country of origin are central to fashion marketing strategies (Anholt, 2004). Brand storytelling highlighting history, associations and archives adds value for heritage brands (Hancock 2009; Lindstrom 2010). Gieves & Hawkes is located at Number One Savile Row – arguably the most prestigious address in tailoring – and is using its 240-year history to inform a product and promotional makeover, which includes developing new lines, creating fashion films to showcase its history and displaying iconic items from the brand’s archive in-store. The brand’s three royal warrants act as a heritage calling card in Asia where Gieves & Hawkes has focused its international expansion responding to luxury consumers’ interest in heritage brands (Lu, 2008). This paper is based on field research in Hong Kong, Shanghai and London, interviews with key marketing and creative staff at Gieves & Hawkes as well as a review of brand marketing materials to analyze how intangible cultural heritage informs the contemporary fashion marketing practices of the Savile Row tailor as they expand from West (End) to East.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication18th Annual IFFTI Conference: The International Foundation of Fashion Technology Institutes
EditorsYuanfeng Liu, Frances Corner
PublisherChina Textile & Apparel Press
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • intangible cultural heritage
  • Gieves & Hawkes
  • Savile Row
  • fashion
  • tailoring


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