Anna pays a visit to the quintessentially English bespoke shirtmaker, founded in 1910, and now the only original member of the Piccadilly Arcade still operating.

Wandering through the beautiful Piccadilly Arcade last week, I accidentally found myself ‘man sock shopping’ with my boyfriend. In usual male fashion, there was luckily for me no idle browsing required. He knew the exact socks he wanted, from the exact shop, to replace exactly the same ones he has been wearing for years. It is exactly this loyalty and customer repetition that will I hope ensure the survival of so many traditional men’s establishments dotted around Jermyn Street, within the heart of London where big brands dominate.

Leaving successfully with a full bag in hand, we then stepped into the pop up from Morrow’s, a sock brand seeped in Liverpool history since 1912 - and had a chat to owner Philip Morrow who has been re-building his grandfather’s outfitters after he re-founded the firm in 2011. The impressive collection of colours, are all British made in the Midlands, with a contemporary twist to fulfil the needs of the present day customer. Morrow’s socks have ‘hand-linked’ toes and are made by one of the few remaining independent hosiery manufacturers in this country. Look out for their stands at events this summer!

It was then into next door Budd, the quintessentially English bespoke shirtmaker, founded in 1910, and now the only original member of the Piccadilly Arcade still operating.

Full of charming character, Budd is the last remaining shirtmaker in England to boast its own fully bespoke, on-site cutting room. Anyone who cares about fit, cut, craftsmanship and quality makes a pilgrimage to this shop, and men should consider themselves extremely lucky to still have this tiny Pandora’s box of shirts, ties, dress wear, nightwear and gentlemen’s haberdashery.

In the workroom above the shop are three of the best cutters in London. Many of their loyal and dedicated staff have been with the company for decades. Head cutter John Butcher has worked here for more than 40 years. You can be sure that the cutter who makes your bespoke shirt this time will be the same next time. Using a traditional process, a bespoke shirt is hand-cut in the shop, drawing on over a dozen measures for an impeccable fit. Every shirt is stitched together in the company’s workshop in Andover. Budd also offers made-to-measure and ready-to-wear shirts, all sewn by hand in Budd’s workshop in Hampshire by seamstresses with unparalleled knowledge and experience.

While my boyfriend runs through cloth options and has a fitting with one of Budd’s cutters, Darren Tiernan, I have a wander around and find it miraculous that so much characterful merchandise is crammed into such a small elegant haven: beautiful silk scarves of heavy 50 oz silk twill, dresswear accessories – such as black and white-tie waistcoats, bows, bibbed shirts, gloves and studs, braces, pocket squares and sock suspenders, stiff collars, hosiery, gowns, pyjamas.

Not everything is for men. Fanny Ward has been Creative Director at Budd for the past six years and despite her biggest challenge being working within such a confined shop size, she has not only brought creativity, colour, pattern and texture to the shop but introduced the popular safari shirts to the company. Her labour of love was creating the perfect women’s pyjama collection - unique, beautiful and comfortable.

It is time for us to leave. The shirts will be ready for collection in a few weeks. I have high hopes. Being the best at what it does has ensured Budd’s success for more than a century, and this looks set to continue, with an impressive and ever growing list of patrons. 2019 will also see the introduction of knitwear and hats to the Budd collection.

I will definitely be back for the pink linen pyjamas with navy piping!

January 2019