Happy Birthday, Drake’s. Forty years old and counting, this quintessential British menswear brand continues to rise through the ranks, most recently, making their first foray into suiting. It all started in 1977 in London’s East End when Michael Drake began producing luxury hand-printed scarves for high-end boutiques. Before long, he had branched out into hand-made ties and pocket squares for which Drakes is known.
Drake’s philosophy was to produce timeless pieces that have a relaxed elegance to them. He succeeded – and his vision remains to this day under the stewardship of another Michael – Michael Hill, who took over as Creative Director in 2010. And having worked alongside Drake for over a decade plus having both a father and grandfather as tie-makers, Hill was the perfect fit. Drake’s soared, transforming itself from an original accessories brand into a ready-to-go wardrobe for the modern man.
‘The Drake’s’ look is not overly prescriptive; rooted in classic menswear but with a softer, more comfortable approach. And we’re not afraid of colour, or texture, for that matter,’ Hill explains. He continues: ‘We tend not to invent, our design is generally well-rooted in classic men’s clothing, but we also like it to feel fresh, and be properly made, using great cloth.’ This craftsmanship is central to the design house’s approach.
The factory and headquarters are still based in the East End with a second Drake’s factory in Somerset. ‘We’re passionate about British cloth – we really do weave some of the best cloth in the world here, whether it be wool from Shetland, tweed from Scotland or silk from Sudbury.’ Some of these mills, Drake’s has worked with for nearly 40 years and Hill cites the company’s archive as a ‘great source of inspiration’.
Combining such history and craftsmanship has led to an impressive collection. Fabrics are rich and sumptuous; patterns span from traditional to quirky. There are now over 250 varieties of the label’s signature tie. The signature being a textured grenadine tie, knitted from raw silk then sometimes hand-embroidered individually with spots, producing a relaxed look that works perfectly with the Drake’s’ laidback suits.
Having recently completed the refurbishment of their shop, just off London’s sartorial street, Savile Row, next up is a shop-in-shop in Tokyo and a standalone flagship in New York’s Soho. ‘We make things that people can and will want to wear, for years and years to come’, says Hill. We have no doubt that Drake’s will continue to achieve just that.
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