1908 - Hector Powe and the “HP CuT”
Having learnt his trade from his father, the 19th Century tailor Wilton Powe, Hector launched his own firm in 1908 in Bishopsgate in the City of London. Development of the business was halted by the First World War, as Hector served in the Army.
Early Hector Powe catalogue sketch by the fashion artist F. Whitby Cox
Hector felt that men’s fashion was ripe for change after the War. Men, and more importantly, their wives and girlfriends, had become accustomed to the athletic, more masculine lines of service uniform. They did not want to return to the narrow, cramping style of the pre-1914 era.
F. Whitby Cox sketch of a Hector Powe double-breasted dinner jacket
So Hector endeavoured to provide gentlemen with a more stylish silhouette. This was known as the HP Cut, a pioneering form of ‘New Tailoring'.
F. Whitby Cox sketch of a Hector Powe evening tailcoat
1930s - The West End Touch
Hector was then joined by his two younger brothers, Lungley and Leslie, which helped give the business a distinctly family feel at their new Regent Street headquarters.
Single Breasted Lounge Suit advertisement – 1936
Obsessed with the notion of elegance, the three Powe brothers successfully captured that most enigmatic characteristic of London luxury, “the West End touch”.
Hector Powe A/W 1934 advertising campaign in Tatler
Hector Powe and the Second World War
As Hector Powe grew and diversified, it became synonymous with British quality. During the Second World War, the house famously specialised in producing Officer’s uniforms.
Hector Powe Officers’ Uniform advertisement in the Illustrated London News – 1939
With the same attention to detail and quality that distinguished their luxury menswear, their impeccable Officers’ s uniforms secured Hector Powe’s status as a national treasure.
Naval Officer Uniform advertisement in Tatler, 1942
The RAF Officer’s uniform in particular, fostered a patriotic affection for Hector Powe that reverberated beyond fashion.
Hector Powe’s famous RAF Officer’s Uniform
This jacket was worn by Pilot Officer Frederick Harrold, a Hurricane pilot who was killed in action during the Battle of Britain.
Hector Powe RAF Pilot’s Uniform in the Imperial War Museum, London
1950s - LUXURY OUTFITTERS FOR Men and Women
As Britain gradually raised itself from the devastation of the Second World War, there was a global renaissance in London style. A creative pioneer in the 1950s, Hector Powe diversified into luxury outfitters for both men and women.
Watercolour from Hector Powe catalogue, 1952
In this new era, Hector Powe led the way in creating elegant and exquisite outfits for the ever-changing social landscape of the 50s.
Hector Powe Town and Country Suits, 1952
Hector Powe and the RAF
In 1961, after four years of experiments at the Institute of Aviation in Farnborough, Hector Powe and the RAF unveiled their new high-altitude flying suit.
The RAF and Hector Powe – “Per ardua ad astra”
The suit had to withstand the new near-Astronaut role of high-altitude flying, 10 miles up in an atmosphere that could boil blood.
Crucially, the new uniform had to adhere to the Geneva Convention so that any pilot found in enemy territory would not be treated as a spy.
Seen below being worn by new pilots at RAF College Cranwell in 1961.
A new cadet receives his tailored RAF uniform
1960s - Lungley Powe & “The Quiet Revolution”
Following the death of Hector Powe, the house was led by his younger brother, Lungley Powe, through the 1960s.
Sharing his brother’s vision, Lungley was determined that Hector Powe would once again change the silhouette of English tailoring to meet the needs of the Modern Gentleman.
Lungley invited these gentlemen to “Quietly join the Hector Powe revolution”.
“Business Lunch”, Hector Powe advertisement, 1962
“No guns. No barricades. Just a revolutionary collection of entirely new styles designed by Hector Powe for the man who thinks young. Closer cut, narrower waists, higher jacket buttons and incomparable craftmanship” - Lungley Powe
The Glen Urquhart suit (L) and the Gun Club suit (R), made from Scottish worsted. 1964
1973 - 2008 Burberry x Hector Powe
Under the stewardship of Lord Wolfson, the Scottish businessman and philanthropist, Hector Powe was merged with Burberry in 1973, with Hector Powe operating as a luxury label within the wider company.
The Equestrian Knight logo of “Burberrys” (as it was known in 1973)
Through this partnership, the iconic names of Hector Powe and Burberry were synonymous with British luxury across the globe.
The iconic Burberry x Hector Powe trench coat
“Hector Powe by Burberrys” entered the lexicon of British street subculture, with tribes such as Mod revivalists, second-wave Skinheads, Suedeheads, and even Football Casuals choosing these collaborative pieces as part of their carefully curated uniforms.
Hector Powe by Burberrys – Street style uniform