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Hawes & Curtis was founded by two accomplished outfitters, Ralph Hawes and George Frederick Curtis, who opened the first store at 24 Piccadilly Arcade in February 1913. From the beginning the heritage brand has been acclaimed by aristocracy and Hollywood's elite. Notable customers have included the Duke of Windsor, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, Lord Mountbatten, Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire.
Hawes & Curtis dressed Lord Mountbatten for most of his life and he went to endless trouble to make sure they obeyed his demands to perfection. On the 20th of December 1920 he wrote a thank you letter to Mr. Curtis:
“I want to thank both you and Mr. Hawes for all the trouble you have taken over fitting me out. I am delighted with the results and enclose a cheque to the value of ￡113.18.6d for the amount I owe you.”
The Duke of Windsor (formerly known as the Prince of Wales until he abdicated) was perhaps Hawes & Curtis’ most famous client. In 1922 he placed his first order for lounge suits, blazers, flannels, linen shirts and handkerchiefs. Hawes & Curtis became the Duke’s shirt maker of choice and on the 5th of December 1922, he granted ‘Hawes & Curtis Hosiers’ with its first Royal Warrant.
Hawes & Curtis in turn created the famous spread collar, designed specifically to accommodate the Duke of Windsor’s ties and the knot he inspired – the Windsor. The Duke’s famous Windsor knot was achieved by having Hawes & Curtis put a thick interlining in his ties to make them denser.
Among the Jermyn Street outfitters, Hawes & Curtis is known for having introduced the backless evening waistcoat. It was an innovation of the ‘dress soft’ era popularised by the Duke of Windsor. The waistcoat was designed without a back and held in place by means of bands, fastened with a buckle or button across the back at the waistline. When worn the waistcoat always remained in position under the tailcoat and was renowned for its comfort. Fred Astaire allegedly approached Hawes & Curtis to have one made of his very own, only to be regretfully refused due to the high demand for such garments from the British aristocracy.
According to the Review of Savile Row Tailors, by the 1930s, “Mr. Curtis was an authority in evening dress and had done more to keep shirts from bulging out of up-creeping waistcoats than any other young man in London. Evening shirts and waistcoats were made on scientific mathematical lines – yet were chic withal.” During this time Hawes & Curtis also produced suits and overcoats.
Within 21 years, Hawes & Curtis acquired seven shops situated on Jermyn Street and the Piccadilly Arcade with 12,000 regular account customers.
On the 12th of July 1938, King George VI awarded ‘Hawes & Curtis Limited Shirtmakers and Hosiers’ a second Royal Warrant. This warrant lasted throughout the King’s reign.
On the 1st of May 1948, Hawes & Curtis received a third Royal Warrant appointed by King George VI.
Hawes & Curtis designed the uniform shirt and tie Queen Elizabeth II wore as a young princess during the Second World War. From 1949 to 1953 Princess Elizabeth Carried out her duties as an Honorary Brigadier in the Women’s Royal Corps (WRAC) before resigning these appointments on becoming Queen in 1953.
In 1957, the Duke of Edinburgh awarded Hawes & Curtis with a fourth Royal Warrant which remained until 1985.
Award-winning businessman and entrepreneur, Touker Suleyman, bought Hawes & Curtis for ￡1 and has subsequently transformed it into a globally renowned and multichannel business.
In 2006 Hawes & Curtis launched its website, offering entire collections to a global audience and bringing Jermyn Street to the world.
Hawes & Curtis is famous for its quintessentially British menswear and womenswear ranges. With over 100 years of heritage, Hawes & Curtis has a distinguished British past and a promising international future. The brand currently has more than 20 stores in the UK and the flagship store remains in the heart of London on Jermyn Street, famous for its resident shirtmakers. It has also launched German, Australian and American websites. Thanks to its rapid international expansion and prominent online presence, Hawes & Curtis is an internationally recognised brand attracting customers from around the world.