There’s Lucian Freud, who paid for services in paintings. Only a lucky few hung on to the works – not, unfortunately, Messrs Kent or Lachter. And the Duke of Edinburgh, for whom John Kent holds the royal warrant. On meeting John at a royal occasion the Duke apparently proclaimed with a wink: “What the hell are you doing here?” Plus Burt Lancaster, Douglas Fairbanks, Elizabeth Taylor… the list goes on. These were the stars that walked through the doors back when Kent, Lachter and Terry Haste were at Hawes & Curtis in the 1970s.
This year they have finally been reunited, in new premises on New Burlington Street.
John actually joined Hawes & Curtis in 1963; Stephen and Terry both joined in 1976. Back then Hawes was both a tailor and shirt maker, but the two operations were in different locations, in Dover Street and Burlington Gardens. The owner, Ken Williams, later sold Dover Street and united the two.
Stephen left in 1983, tempted away by a directorship at Tie Rack. That didn’t last long and in 1986 he joined John again, who had subsequently decided to leave Hawes & Curtis after 23 years – Terry, originally his apprentice, took over.
Fortunately John retained the Duke’s royal warrant, despite it being attributed to ‘John Kent of Hawes & Curtis’. He was to give it up again when he fell ill a few years ago, only to regain it double-quick time when he returned to trade this year.
John and Stephen, after a brief stint above the Miranda Club, settled in Stafford Street (where Kashket’s is today). They were there 12 years and apart from some rather frightening issues with damp, got on famously. Terry, meanwhile, joined Tommy Nutter before going to Hackett to launch its bespoke offering.
When their lease was up, John and Stephen took up space in Norton & Sons (Stephen still makes Nortons’ shirts) and Terry joined Huntsman – all around 10 years ago. Finally, after a few toings, froings and near-retirements, the three reunited in Denman & Goddard’s old premises in New Burlington Street in 2010.
The place is just starting to come together. John and Stephen admitted – after taking me through their professional history over lunch, and filling any gaps with gags and anecdotes – that it still needs a few home touches. But they’re settling in, and John’s warrant hangs proudly in the window.
Suits start at £2400 and shirts at £155. Being such self-effacing English gentlemen, they wouldn’t admit what great value that is.
UPDATE: News piece on GQ also published here.