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A new future for Edinburgh landmark

One of Edinburgh’s oldest classic menswear stores and bespoke tailors, Stewart Christie & Co, is under new ownership.

Daniel Fearn and Vixy Rae, ex-designers at independent retailer Walker Slater in the Scottish capital, and former colleague and customer David Bassett have acquired the business from Duncan Lowe, who has run it for 37 years.

Lowe was the fourth generation of his family to manage the company, which traces its roots back to 1700. It was amalgamated as Stewart Christie & Co in 1933.

The business is recognised as Edinburgh’s leading bespoke tailor, country outfitter and supplier of sporting clothes and Highland wear. Head cutter Terence McClelland, who has been with the company for nearly 20 years, will continue as a director.

“Continuity within the company through retaining skilled and experienced staff is important for all of us. So too is the fact we can continue to call on Duncan Lowe during the inevitable period of transition,” the new owners said in a statement. Financial details were not revealed.

The new team intends to enhance the store, establish a transactional website this autumn and develop own-label products. “We all have a very similar work ethic and a common vision,” Rae told Drapers. “Developing Stewart Christie as a luxury brand, using local fabrics and British manufacture, we will celebrate and support Scottish and British craftsmanship in as many lines as we can.”

Existing brands, such as Gurteen, Bladen, Dubarry and Cheaney will be balanced by more own-label product. New niche brands for men and women will be sought.

Stewart Christie, located in a Georgian building at 63 Queen Street in the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), operates across two floors of retail space in addition to the bespoke workroom, cutting bench and offices. It employs two shop staff, four in the workroom and a book keeper.

The lower ground floor sales area will undergo a complete renovation and refit to accommodate a new women’s collection. Currently womenswear accounts for only 5% of sales, but the intention is to increase this to 30%.

The ground floor is to be reconfigured in due course. “We will retain as much of the character as possible, and reference the origins of the company, making full use of the archives we possess,” said Bassett. “These historically important archive resources will be used in the development of the Stewart Christie brand and will be a source of inspiration for us all.

“It is important to update the company, while remaining faithful to traditional techniques and craftsmanship and embracing the unique heritage Stewart Christie boasts.”

It is intended that a wholesale collection of country-inspired clothing with a contemporary twist will be shown to buyers in spring 2016.

Fearn worked for Walker Slater for 15 years. Rae worked there for five years. Before that she owned the Odd One Out boutique in Edinburgh and streetwear store Dr Jives in Glasgow.

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