Nutters on Savile Row, a Tailoring Style Revolution
Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Nutters with Joseph Morgan
Interview by Sam Clark
Neil Armstrong took the first steps on the moon and The Beatles strode out across Abbey Road in 1969. It was a heady time filled with a psychedelic kaleidoscope of exploration, innovation, music and style. Three of The Beatles were captured in the iconic crossing image wearing suits created by the exceptional Tommy Nutter, whose wild styles were creating a revolution on Savile Row. Joseph Morgan worked with Tommy and remembers, ‘that was the whole thing about Tom’s clothes. They were new and exciting, it was like a formula of what we did and what we wore.’
Tommy Nutter met Edward Sexton in 1967 while working together at Donaldson, Williams & Ward, a traditional tailors with premises in the Burlington Arcade. Tommy a salesman with grand ideas and Edward a talented cutter soon joined forces, Edward’s tailoring skills bringing Tommy’s flamboyant sartorial visions to life. Tommy and Edward opened Nutters on Valentine’s Day, February the 14th 1969, with financial backing from James Vallance White a Clark at the House of Lords, Peter Brown assistant to The Beatles and Bobby Willis and Cilla Black. It was the first new tailors to open on Savile Row in a century.
Joseph Morgan worked at Nutters with Tommy and Edward and now carries on this bespoke sartorial lineage at his bespoke Savile Row tailors, Chittleborough & Morgan. We talked to Joseph about Nutters, how it changed tailoring and Savile Row.
Tommy’s vision really exploded sartorial convention. What was special about Nutters unique style?
JM – We created bespoke garments the same as everybody else on Savile Row but stylised the clothes with Tommy’s designs. This was a high straight shoulder line, very wide double breasted lapels, very long side vents, very close fitting all the way through.
How did you join Nutters?
JM – I arranged an interview and went to see Tommy and Edward. I was wearing a stiff collar with a stud front and back and a grey suit that I had made; it had 2inch lapels, very formal. They asked a few technical questions and offered me the position. That was in 1970. Edward asked why would you straighten a jacket? I see him now and he still says I was the only one who could answer it.
When I joined Nutters there was Tom and Edward, it was just the three of us cutting with a young trimmer called Tony and an alteration fellow called Jim Ding, a fantastic bloke, I learnt a lot from him. Roy Chittleborough joined in 72/73.
What was Savile Row like at the time?
JM – Well, Savile Row didn’t really have any display windows, they wouldn’t attract clients in from the outside. Everybody would be recommended. You couldn’t just walk into a shop and say ‘Will you make me a suit?’
There were no clothes or models in the windows it was all just cloth. From those very early days, Tom had a very dear friend called Michael Long. He used to work for Jaeger and would come in and work on the windows to create something special, a visual impact to draw people in. He would wear patchouli; a fragrance that lots of young people at used at the time and the shop had this complete atmosphere of this unusual fragrance.
Nutters were the tailoring choice for many famous clients, Elton John, Mick Jagger and Bianca Jagger and many more. Would they just drop in?
JM – Tom knew all these people and they would just come in to see him and order clothes. Tom was in the middle of everything that was happening.
How were you constructing these suits that made them so special?
JM – Jackets had a square shoulder line, wide double breasted lapels, a very close narrow chest, two cross flap pockets – out ticket flap. They were very nipped in in the waist with lots of skirt in those early days, long centre or side vents, out breast welt. We would hollow the underarm cuts to get them very close, above very narrow sleeves. Waistcoats again would be top welt bottom flaps. Because we put the trouser high the waistcoats would be nice and short, not long like they are in ready to wear now. Trousers had plain fronts. Side pockets were initially the norm until we moved into the next phase, which was shorter jackets and jetted pockets.
Since the beginning of your career how has the tailoring craft and style developed?
JM – I think you have to look at the 50’s that were drab and had no real direction. In theearly 60s you had the Rolling Stones and The Beatles explode onto the world and there is a whole sort of energy and culture from the youth and they just wanted new and exciting things. Clothes just changed. The whole concept of male image in London at that particular time was very exciting. Where, lets say everyday gentlemen that wore grey and blue, could now express themselves in colour and style.
What happened to Nutters and how did you move on to open Chittleborough & Morgan?
JM – It got bigger and bigger until Tom left in 75 I think it was. The rest of us continued to work on together until 80/81 when Edward said he wanted to branch off on his own and took Jim with him and a fellow called Eric Norris. So I asked Roy if he would like to do something together and we started Chittleborough & Morgan. We were originally on the same site as Nutters, but Westminster City Council decided to redevelop the building and it was knocked down. We relocated to several more premises on Savile Row before settling in our current location, former Huntsman’s workshop in the basement at number 12.
Roy retired about 10 years ago and you have continued to run Chittleborough & Morgan producing bespoke tailoring to the highest standards, for which you were honoured in 2016 with Master Tailor. How has the tailoring changed from your time at Nutters to what you are doing now at Chittleborough & Morgan?
JM – Tom and Edward had a workshop where all the tailors worked solely for them and that is very much what we are trying to do now and have always done.The original concept of the canvas, the head cloth and the body shapes are exactly the same as those early days. We continually analyse what we are doing. Our model is about definition, giving presence and a lovely shape to the contours of the body. When you look at how this has developed, and it has developed massively, we are still true to those early qualities and bespoke tailoring details. Things like buttonholes and sleeves were good then but they were not as good as they are today. There is more intensity in style and fit now. And we are more conscious of attaining the highest quality all the time.