When Bespoke Came to ‘Barbie’: The Savile Row Tailor Taking Hollywood by Storm

Savile Row shares a long history with the film industry, having dressed countless stars on and off the screen. And one of its newer occupants, Cad & The Dandy, has turned itself into an essential call for wardrobe departments today, having outfitted the casts of everything from Marvel series to Barbie.

“Frustratingly, we didn’t get to make anything in pink, which would have been great fun, but we made everything in blue,” Cad & The Dandy co-founder James Sleater says in reference to his firm’s work on the latter film, for which it dressed Will Ferrell and other actors playing Mattel executives in sober, single-breasted navy suits with peaked lapels.

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Will Ferrell wears a Cad & the Dandy suit in Barbie.
Will Ferrell wears a Cad & the Dandy suit in Barbie.

The story of how Cad & The Dandy, which was founded in 2008 and today sits at No. 13 Savile Row, found itself entwined with filmmaking is a familiar one on the Row. Actors who were existing clients would be cast in a production, and then suggest that their tailor be used to make the character’s clothing (in particular, Sleater references the actor Eddie Marsan, who’d been a Cad & The Dandy customer and has now worn its clothing in multiple productions, most recently the Amazon Original series The Power).

What had been a minor side job for the bespoke maker escalated dramatically when it was tasked with outfitting a later entry in the Men in Black franchise, which required hundreds of suits. Cad & The Dandy soon earned a reputation within the industry for being able to fulfill high order volumes in a relatively short time, which Sleater credits to such factors as having multiple work premises and holding hundreds of fabrics in stock.

“If someone on a film says, ‘Can you make us a suit in 72 hours?” we can do it,” Sleater tells Robb Report. “It’s not what we want, it’s stressful and we won’t get much sleep, but because we’ve got the stuff in our physical possession, we can invariably do that without too much bother.”

Cad & The Dandy made the deceptively lightweight coat Samuel L. Jackson wears in Secret Invasion.
Cad & The Dandy made the deceptively lightweight coat Samuel L. Jackson wears in Secret Invasion.

It’s for that reason that Cad & The Dandy was able to produce nearly 70 pairs of trousers for Harrison Ford to wear as the danger-prone protagonist of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. But that’s not to suggest its strength lies solely in delivering quantity; working with actors and costume designers has seen Cad & The Dandy deploy its tailoring chops in unusual ways.

For instance, work on the latest Indiana Jones film required Cad & The Dandy to outfit the 7’2” Dutch bodybuilder Olivier Richters—and then reproduce his wardrobe exactly for a body double that was well over a foot shorter. And an upcoming, big-budget period piece set before the advent of electricity demanded complete handmaking across its entire wardrobe.

“We had to sew shirts with every seam done by hand because the camera might pick out that detail,” Sleater says.

Jack Farthing wears Cad & The Dandy suits to play then-Prince Charles in 2021's Spencer.
Jack Farthing wears Cad & The Dandy suits to play then-Prince Charles in 2021’s Spencer.

Cad & The Dandy has also benefitted from an increasing number of productions—particularly those from streaming services—being filmed in the U.K. One recent example was Marvel’s Secret Invasion, for which it had to make an overcoat for Samuel L. Jackson to wear as Nick Fury. The overcoat was made from a “very, very lightweight” cloth but lined with pure cashmere to keep Jackson insulated when shooting outdoors in England’s frigid north.

Perhaps no job benefitted from Cad & The Dandy’s position on Savile Row as did the 2021 historical drama Spencer, which starred Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana and Jack Farthing as the then-Prince Charles. Cad & The Dandy’s head cutter, Stephen Allen, had cut for the king while working at Anderson & Sheppard, and had retained cuts of the cloths used to make Charles’s garments in his archives.

“We could almost match the cloths and be really true to life by in essence making exact replicas of what was made for him in the ‘80s,” Sleater says.

While Cad & The Dandy’s costume trade has boomed recently, the multiple strikes currently roiling the entertainment industry may lead to a temporary dearth. So instead, the business plans to get ahead of schedule on making its ready-to-wear collection, so that it may be the first in line to again answer Hollywood’s call.

“That means that we’ve got more flexibility, should someone come along and say we need one, two, three, four, or 100 suits for a film,” Sleater says.

And who knows—maybe it’ll get to tailor a pink two-piece for Barbie 2.

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