Nashville Leather Goes Hollywood

The Music City’s maven of menswear takes Melrose Avenue


Nashville’s Savannah Yarborough, wearing a calf suede bomber jacket and cheetah-print belt of her own design, at her new Los Angeles boutique.

At the new Los Angeles outpost of the Nashville-born leather atelier Savas, one need only tug the leather tassel doorbell and push through the glass-and-brass door to enter the alluring imagination of Savannah Yarborough. The company’s founder and creative director, Yarborough made her name crafting rugged yet precisely executed, personality-driven leather jackets. With tobacco calf suede coats dangling from disco-ball spinners and paper drape patterns illustrating the evolution of her designs in the window, the recently opened shop offers an unruffled oasis among the heat and clamor of Melrose Avenue. “I want you to feel like you’re entering into a new sphere,” Yarborough says. 

Like its glossy front windows that reflect the palm trees outside, Savas echoes West Hollywood. Velvet, brass, and marble accent the limewashed walls, which shift from blue to green to gray as the light changes. You just might glimpse a celebrity lounging on the calf-hair sofa, custom-made by local designer Cooper Reynolds Gross. But Yarborough’s equally chimerical and chic ethos pulls from her own roots, too: Birmingham, where she grew up; Nashville, where she launched Savas in 2015 after cutting her teeth as the senior men’s designer for Billy Reid; and London, where she first learned the tricks of her trade while studying at Central Saint Martins.

There, a stone’s throw from Savile Row, Yarborough fell in love with the form and function of menswear and began playing with their boundaries. “I learned all about the fine intricacies of tailoring and realized there’s no one in the world doing Savile Row–style clothing for leather and suede,” she says. “So I started making the weekend looks for the guys who wear those suits during the week. A sort of rock-and-roll country club.”

A trio of Yarborough designs in (from top) calf leather, lamb leather, and calf suede.

Taking that aesthetic to heart, Yarborough opened her bespoke shop in Nashville. Last year, after frequent trips to the West Coast to meet with clients, she set her sights on L.A. “We have clients from all over the world, but L.A. felt magnetic,” she says. “It’s leather-jacket weather every evening here. It’s also a town where men love to look great.”

On Melrose, the right half of the new shop features a handful of ready-to-wear pieces. Jackets of various styles sway from six-foot-tall brass stands shaped like a check-mark icon that Yarborough discreetly stitches onto the pockets and in linings of her designs. (“That mark also kind of looks like the ‘Batman building’ in Nashville,” she admits. “Not my intention, but I love that coincidence.”) Yarborough produces only three to seven articles of any one jacket. “A part of my belief system is that I never want to make things that aren’t going to have a life outside of here, so I’m really thoughtful about not overmaking stuff.” Nearby, a display of boots, belts, bags, guitar straps, and a handful of women’s looks highlight the expansions up Yarborough’s sleeve. (She also intends to duplicate the entire L.A. location in Nashville later this year.)

Yarborough’s bread and butter, though, remains her custom jackets, designed and patterned in the shop’s back room but dreamed up in the bespoke lounge, where a giant tailor’s mirror dominates one side of the room. In the corner, a brass-and-onyx sculpture conceived by Yarborough and fabricated by Gross emulates Cracker Barrel’s beloved tabletop peg game, exchanging kitsch for grandeur. Yarborough drapes calf, lamb, alligator, and kangaroo hides on its gigantic “golf tees” so customers can see how the materials hang.

A photograph by Wilco’s Pat Sansone and a Gibson guitar underscore the boutique’s rock-and-roll vibe.

With locations in two highbrow zip codes, Yarborough has become a clothier to the stars. When John Prine accepted his Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in early 2020—just months before he died—he wore a Savas creation: a black calfskin sport jacket accented with a suede collar and lapel, a Western yoke embellishment‚ and an embroidered Popeye on the purple lining. The likes of Jack White, Norman Reedus, and 1883’s LaMonica Garrett have also sported Yarborough’s works. Jason Isbell is a fan, too, collecting a Savas guitar strap, a pair of gasoline-colored boots, and a green kangaroo jacket, which he donned for the first time at Carnegie Hall for a benefit in which he improvised his entire set. “I was intentionally challenging myself that night, and the jacket made me feel psychologically as well as physically comfortable,” Isbell says. “Only the best articles of clothing can do that.”

But Yarborough’s designs may shine even brighter at the office or the bar around the corner. She estimates only 10 percent of her clients are celebrities. “I’ve made jackets for lots of studio musicians and finance guys and lawyers and car enthusiasts and chefs and watch collectors—and I don’t even know what they do,” she says with a laugh. “I always say the grocery store is the best runway.”