Suitably retro, grandfather style

I’ve had this suit for a while now, after inheriting it from my dear, departed grandfather. I’ve never really fitted it before, but on a whim tried it today and find I must be quite close to the height and weight he was when it was made for him back in 1945. It gives me an odd feeling of connection with my grandfather, and also what significance it had that the suit is dated 03/05/1945. In celebration of the ending of WW2? At the time my grandfather worked at the Jaguar car factory in Coventry and had spent the was on fireman duty there. He worked at Jaguar in the experimental dept. until into the 1970s.


While I can’t lay claim to knowing much of the history of the suit, it would appear to be a properly bespoke item, and Hector Powe certainly throws up hits on Google. Hector Powe of Regent Street, London, tailor to RAF pilots during WW2 and it appears to dapper gentlemen for at least 30 years onwards.

hector powe raf



These last two images have been borrowed from another blog (The Serendipity Project), many thanks to them!

While I’m not totally sure I wear the jacket well, I think the trousers and waistcoat fit me properly. I have a feeling I’ll be wearing this again sometime soon!


P1040591  P1040593



  • Mantiques: A tool with a past | Well Dressed Dad 30/05/2013 at 16:16

    […] a couple of items I own that belonged to my grandfather, Joe. One of the other pieces I have is the bespoke suit he had made in […]

  • Will 29/11/2013 at 15:11

    The vest looks like a great fit it stops exactly where it should in comparison to the high rise in the trousers! you can really see it in this pic but I have a slimmer fitting suit similar to this…

  • Des Risdon 04/04/2014 at 17:56

    I worked for Hector Powe 1952 -57 first in their Bournemouth store and from 1954 as head of their credit Department in London. I wish I could buy a suit from them now!

    • Carol Doris 26/10/2019 at 17:52

      Wonderful to see this.
      My Grandfather b. 1899, and his brother were trained by their father, to be master tailors. They had two shops in Surrey and dreams to expand. When WW1 broke out, my G. father joined the Royal Flying Corp before it became the RAF, and afterwards, returned to manage one of the tailor shops; married and in 1928 had twins. This was around the time that off the peg suits and shirts were beginning to undercut tailor made outfits. Tailors, (also shoemakers and cabinet makers), began to suffer loss of custom. The family closed one of their shops and attempted to specialise in school and nurses uniforms and this saw them through WWII but after that, they were out done by big manufacturing companies and went out of business. My Grandfather took what he assumed would be a temporary job as a customer services manager for a small local outfitters, while hoping to find a position at one of the specialist tailors but these opportunities were almost non existent for an older man that had not been trained ‘in house’ but he never stopped looking and regularly submitted his CV to Hector Powe with whom his father had done business and of course, supplied uniforms for the RAF that he had been so proud to wear. And then one day, I’m not sure what year but around 1954, Hector Powe in Regent’s Street contacted him with the offer of a position as their customer services manager and he accepted, undaunted by a long journey to London and back every day. He was so proud to work for them. It restored his dignity and he was very happy to be part of their team until he retired. I remember that he was always extremely well turned out. His son, my father is 91 in December. I’d love to get him a poster of the Hector Powe RAF advert. Would you know where I might find one?

  • Rita Shoulder 02/05/2014 at 15:08

    My father wore one of your suits for his wedding in 1922. I remember him saying
    that he felt very smart and he certainly does in their wedding photographs.

  • Janet Knox 29/06/2014 at 21:57

    My father was first a rep. and then a manager for Hector Powe in the 50s, 60s and 70s, managing shops in Hull, Dundee & Sheffield. The suits were expensive but the work that went into making sure they fit exactly right was incredible. They had a complicated set-up of joined up tape measures – referred to as “the device” which was worn by the customer and carefully adjusted to get every measurement just so. The order charts produced as a result seemed incredibly complicated to me as a child and I know my father spent many hours writing them all up, prior to dispatch to the workshops. One thing for sure, my dad was the smartest, most dapper looking dad for miles!

    • Jerry Hogg 22/02/2015 at 15:59

      Was your dad’s name Hughie Knox? My dad, Chris Hogg, was an Area Manager for Hector Powe and that name rings a bell from when I was a kid…

      • Janet Knox 22/02/2015 at 17:16

        My God – yes! And I remember your dad, he used to come and visit us and he sent Christmas cards to my mum and dad for years. My mum just died this Christmas – wish I could have told her I’d been in contact with you, she would have been thrilled!

        • Jerry Hogg 22/02/2015 at 17:28

          Wow! Sorry to hear about your mum. My dad died about 15 years ago now. I think they seemed to have a good time at work in those days and we’re certainly dapper or “natty” as I think they called it in the 60s/70s. My biggest memory as a kid was seeing our garage full of cases of White Horse Scotch Whisky which dad would deliver to all the shops for Xmas for the staff…

          • Janet Knox 22/02/2015 at 17:32

            I think they all took great pride in their work and in their own appearance. I also know that both my parents were very fond of your dad – my mum thought he was a lovely man. Sad that they’re all gone now. Vince Powell (who went on to write scripts for Harry Worth, Coronation St. etc) was a sales rep. and used to visit us too. His name was Smith in those days – changed it to Powe(ll) when he got his big break.

          • Jerry Hogg 22/02/2015 at 17:49

            Interesting! The other one I remember dad mentioning was Graham Nash (of Crosby, Stills etc) who worked in Manchester as well.

          • Janet Knox 22/02/2015 at 17:50

            Blimey, didn’t know that!

      • Chris Rowe 19/02/2023 at 17:29

        Hi jerry
        Your Dad Chris was my area manager at Hector Powe he was a lovely man, happy days, I was started by Hughie Knox in Sheffield, then went on to be Manager in Southport and Liverpool also a visiting tailor, covering Lancashire Merseyside and Cheshire great times great company yours truly
        Chris Rowe

    • Graham Holmwood 10/08/2016 at 19:29

      Dear Janet,
      The name Knox certainly rings a bell with me too, but not the Christian name Hughie, I’m afraid. Perhaps your Dad had a nickname too? Was your Mum Joyce? My Dad was manager of the Hull, Manchester and Glasgow branches in the 40s, 50s and 60s before being posted to Dagenham and Regent Street in 1963. We left Hull in 1955 – perhaps your Dad was his successor?
      Vincent Smith was the window dresser for the Manchester area, I think, before he went full-time writing scripts for Coronation Street, Harry Worth (the starting sequence where Harry stands half-behind a shop window and raises his arm and leg was filmed at Powe’s Manchester branch) and “Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width”. He visited us at home too.
      Dad got fed up with Graham Nash coming in late to work and being tired out and advised him to give up music if he wanted to make a career at Powe’s. Nash resigned and the rest is history.
      Small world!
      I certainly remember the “device” (aka “iron maiden”), a skeleton jacket of tape measures. Hector Powe registered a patent on it in the 30s. Dad always said that a good fitter didn’t need it but the psychology behind it was brilliant. The customer simply knew the jacket was going to fit before it had even been made – he had never been measured up so thoroughly.
      A shame Hector Powe has disappeared, absorbed into Burberrys. You can’t buy kit like it nowadays.
      Graham Holmwood

      • Janet Knox 10/08/2016 at 20:52

        Hi Graham,

        I remember your dad well. Yes, my father (Jock!) took over from yours at Jameson St. The Harry Worth opener was well known to us too but I never knew about Graham Nash until Chris Hogg’s son told me! I have Vince Powell (Smith)´s autobiography, ‘From Rags to Gags’ as I wanted to see if he mentioned Hector Powe (which he did) but not how he canvassed everyone to vote for him (and Harry Driver) in the radio talent contest. They also wrote some of the scripts for the early Coronation St. episodes and, of course, the notorious Love Thy Neighbour.

        Really good to hear from you. Just sorry that Mum passed away 18 months ago and didn’t know you had been in touch – she often spoke about your dad, and Tommy Matthews (who also moved to Glasgow and then sadly died), with great fondness. I think that was the last time I saw your dad, as we went to Glasgow during one of our summer trips to my father’s home town of Kilmarnock, so that my dad could go with yours to see Tommy in the hospital. Was your mum’s name Rosa? Tommy’s wife was Rose – they were our neighbours in Hull and Pat Matthews and I were in the same class in school.

        Thanks so much for getting in touch.

        All the best


    • Arthur Duff 17/09/2016 at 18:34

      I was measured for a suit in the early 60s by Hector Powe tailors when they were a franchise in Leonards of Rochester, the man used the complicated tape measuring device, that I thought was quite amazing. Unfortunately Leonards were declared bankrupt, just a short time after, and I never did completed the purchase. Their suites were quite unique.

  • Richard 05/01/2015 at 13:30

    I’ve seen better looking tramps – try to make an effort with yourself !!

  • Sarah 17/06/2015 at 13:17

    I googled Hector Powe because I am wearing a ladies jacket by him. Beautiful dark grey with pink satin lining, bought over twenty years ago in a charity shop and still in service as my posh meeting jacket. Great to find some of the history. Mine has a label saying it was made for a Mrs Bach in March 1959

    • George Lyon 10/10/2021 at 07:28

      Dear Sarah. Regarding your post, I will love to see that Jacket. My name is George Lyon, Héctor Powe was my father’s grandfather, father of Cecil Powe my Grandmother. We live in Costa Rica and would love to see it. Please email me at bless you!

  • Stuart Elliott 25/07/2015 at 19:26

    I worked for them at the Middlessbrough branch in he 70’s.
    Chris Hogg was my area manager. Dapper chap.

  • Richard Barnett 27/03/2016 at 20:44

    Iv’e just had a Hector Powe suit , back from my local seemstress, after a bit of TLC. I am the same size as my Grandfather and the suit fits as if it was tailored for me! He had it made, tailored for himself in 1959, Charcoal grey, but the cut and quality of cloth is out standing and after dry cleaning is as good as new!! Thanks Hector! richsb@

  • Mel Singleton 04/07/2016 at 07:15

    I recently bought a Hector Powe three button sports jacket at a thrift store here in Melbourne, Australia. According to the label it was made at the Regent Street, London store on 9.4.62 for one R E Smith Esq. It is a dark-ish green with red/brown and tan threads in the fabric. It has single buttons on the sleeve and real button holes. I usually only buy 100% wool jackets or suits and generally try to avoid synthetic fabrics. This jacket has no label indicating the fabric but I expect(hope) that given it is a bespoke Hector Powe it would be 100% wool. As it smelled slightly musty and was crumpled I did wash it in cold water and carefully pressed it and it came up well. The fabric is quite thick but does not feel scratchy to touch and is nice and warm in winter. It looks to be in excellent condition with no shine.

    I’m wondering if the number codes indicate the fabric that was used. The label codes in this case are:

  • stuart elliott 24/07/2016 at 21:02

    The number after the 1/ (Regent St) is the branch stylists I.D. number.
    The other ones probably indicate the work room where it was made (either Dagenham or Blantyre, nr. Glasgow) an the cutters initials

  • Jason 31/05/2017 at 01:50

    I just bought a vintage jacket made by the aforementioned tailor and my research brought me here.
    Wow, I am late to this, but it is wonderful to read the comments of people who were involved in the company brought in contact through this blog post.

    I don’t know if you still have the suit, but I think the jacket looks fine, Maybe the sleeves could be taken up a touch. If it is a bit big in the waist, it could easily be taken in.

  • S. Herrington (new Forward) 20/04/2018 at 20:12

    Vector Pow e was my grandfather. I am the daughter of his eldest daughter, Margaret Alice Forward was her married name. I just ‘Google’s my grandfather’s name to see any interest. So glad that his excellent quality suits are still surviving.

    • nick 20/04/2018 at 22:24

      Thank you, Sue, that’s wonderful to hear!

  • Dave Cooper 14/05/2018 at 12:59

    I was manager ot the Exeter branch of Hector Powe from 1965 to 1979 when I went out on the road as a visiting tailor for them until 2000 when made redundant (Bueberrys took us over in 1984) I remember Ron Knox well, we used to meet at the annual conference in London once a year!! I think he lived at Captain Crooks Crescent M/Brough

  • Miss S L Black 30/04/2021 at 00:07

    I’ve got my grandfather hector powe regent Street London long male herring bone coat with tartan inlay with belt and buckle really want to know more about it it’s beautiful

  • Forbes Roberts 02/02/2023 at 09:44

    I worked at Hector Power in Manchester 1969 through 71. Chris Hogg hired me. He was the manager there at the time but had already received his promotion to area manager and was waiting for his successor to arrive. That was Simon Hill who previously ran the Epsom store. George Holmwood was a Director of the company then and he visited the Manchester store regularly. Simon hill was succeeded by Roy Orchard from Nottingham. Charles Howarth was my mentor and he told me about Graham Nash working there only about six months before I started. Everyone there was great to work with. Harry Houghton, who I never met, ran the “Device” course. He had a reputation as a hard task-master. Gordon Tipton ran the course after him and I did the course with him. My very best mate ever was James Kent. We had great times together in Manchester before I decided to become a TEN-POUND-POM and emigrate to Australia.

    • Chris Rowe 19/02/2023 at 17:45

      Hi my name is Chris Rowe I stated with Hector Powe in the 60 by Hughie Knox, on Pinstone St having done 3 months at Bishops gate with Harry Houghton came back has Stylist 161, working Tony Campbell who went to HPs at Dundee then Aberdeen, Nick Simpson from Harrow came up to run new shop in Sheffield I then was manager at Southport and Liverpool and visiting tailor covering Lancashire and Cheshire great days great company loved my Hector Powe suits happy times.

  • Jim mcdonald 14/02/2023 at 22:41

    I worked for hector powe At the shop on donegal place belfast from 1961til 1967 and then immigrated to canada. The manager was an English man and was a great salesman and taught me how to dress and sell.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.