The London Look: James Sleater

by Guest of A Guest · June 12, 2024

    It's probably best to avoid being in the same room as James Sleater - that is unless you enjoy feeling comparatively underdressed and sartorially sloppy. 'Tis this gentleman's job after all, as the owner of three Savile Row menswear shops (Cad & The Dandy, Norton & Sons, Götrich & Co), to be expertly tailored and smartly dressed.

    Curious to know where you'll catch one of London's most stylish dining, shopping and reading at the moment?

    Where are you from originally?
    A country boy at heart but I have always had the pleasure, even when growing up with plenty of time in the bright lights

    What brought you to London? 
    London is a sort of right of passage to move to when you are young in the UK but it’s also where I spent all my weekends as a teenager. I was at boarding school in the country and London always gives you that hit of energy and excitement! 

    What neighborhood do you call home?
    South-East London, in an area called Dulwich, its very village like in feel, with bigger houses and gardens. I spend my days in Mayfair so it’s a great place to escape to.

    What's your job?
    I own a few different but intrinsically linked companies. I am silly enough to have four shops on one 150-metre street called Savile Row, three of them are Tailoring Shops but I also own the street's coffee shop - such is my need for a regular hit of caffeine. I also have shops in Stockholm and New York. 

    What do you actually do all day?
    I have a great step count running between the shops on Savile Row but most of the day I am meeting people, designing new ranges of clothes or simply seeing customers. I love the shop time as much as anything - almost as much as a long lunch.

    Social smoker?
    Nope I got busted having my first cigarette at school and never got round to having another.

    Go-to pint?
    A pint of good English beer - not lager but a mild, stout, or bitter. Perhaps the occasional IPA on a summers day - but red wine is my real weakness.

    Crisp of choice?
    Only one type exists in my world - the rest is just a waste.. Salt and Vinegar.  I read the other day that Cheese and onion claims the top spot in the UK… how can so many people be wrong.

    Preferred pub?
    One where the fire is lit. The Devonshire is a few minutes walk, and the buzz here is great and they cook on fire so that still counts..

    What's worth the wait?
    Guinness at the above mentioned pub…..but in reality all the good things in life deserve a little time. The wait ultimately means you savour it more.

    Tube or Boris bike?
    Never jumped on a Boris bike. I did bid but lost out at buying one of the Boris Bike prototypes at a charity auction, I got distracted trying to get more wine in the glass. In hindsight losing was probably a good thing

    Tesco or Sainsbury’s?
    Not a fan of either in truth, but Sainsbury would win. I still like to get my meat from a butcher and vegetables from a Greengrocer. The rest can get delivered. 

    Weekend getaway trip?
    London is so convenient for travel with everywhere in Europe becoming a weekend possibility. I travel to Florence and Milan an awful lot. But also I drive to France for the day just for that hit of another culture. 

    Favorite restaurant?
    So many to mention - Sabor in London as its my local and its just great. Milan - Langosteria, New York - Carbone… I could go on.. food dominates my waking thoughts.

    Marmite or marmalade?
    Marmite - I left the Marmalade to Paddington.

    British stereotype that rings true?
    Our heavy use of the apology - we say sorry almost every fifth word it seems. 

    How do you take your tea?
    First thing in the morning before uttering a word, heavy stewed, dash of milk and no sugar.

    Most British thing about you?
    I own multiple Landrovers, wellies, shotguns, tweed, gundogs and wear a signet ring - all very stereotypical.

    Least British thing about you?
    I know absolutely nothing about football - can’t bare the sport. I once met the Man Utd Squad and had absolutely no idea who they were - nor them me.

    Remedy for a rainy day?
    A roaring fire. I have installed one in every property I have owned if it didn’t have one already. We get a lot of rain - we need a lot of fires.

    First thing you miss when you leave London?
    Tea, Marmite, Pubs,  - no in actual fact like us all there is no sleep like that in your own bed.

    Private Members Clubs - yay or nay?
    Bloody great ideas for the owners, subscription based business models and all that.. I find though it encourages us to be lazy and too often to go to the same places with the same people. Can't stop going though.

    Where in town are you almost always?
    Mayfair - it’s a great place to work and play. I think my colleagues and friends would simply say at lunch. 

    Where in town would you never be caught dead?
    Gosh there are a lot of good places but a lot of bad as well in a big city - eating inside a McDonald’s or a Burger King. Fast food is often needed but not to that level.

    Best place for a fun night out?
    The best nights are always those we least expect and in the most unlikely of places. As long as there is good food and good drinks I think we can make most places work. 

    How would you describe your style?
    Classic and understated. I am lucky I don’t really shop as I have almost all of my clothes made, the upside to owning tailoring companies. But I like clothes that don’t shout, I don’t own any item with a brand name on display. I am pretty poor at dressing casually, I don’t like jogging bottoms and trainers and things like that, it just looks like you are about to jump on a plane and I still like the process of giving my outfit sufficient consideration each day.

    Top shopping spots?
    Obviously Savile Row for men's clothing - I own Cad and The Dandy and Norton and Sons. But anywhere in Mayfair.

    For food - it’s Fortnum and Mason and Lina Stores for an Italian hit.

    What's your greatest extravagance?
    Parking tickets feature quite heavily in my expenditure but I am such a sucker for aftershave. In fact I think the most beautiful shop in the world is Santa Maria Novella in Florence. 

    Cheap thrill?
    Anything competitive over a beer bowling, darts, beer pong, crazy golf.

    Who's your favorite person in town?
    The ones who always make sure you can get a table. It always pays to make great friends with people in power and those controlling the tables can make sure the night starts in the right way!

    What's your most overused Briticism?
    I love the word ‘bother’ - it always sounds very understated…. "He had a spot of bother” - normally means something like he was arrested, beaten up or something else rather dramatic but using bother makes it sounds very trivial and doesn’t give the game away. 

    Reading anything good at the moment?
    I am reading an autobiography of a chap I was at school with and it's a weird reminder of one's youth. 

    What are you most excited for next?
    Finding the work life balance  - I have heard it exists.

    [Photos by Kirk Truman]