Luxury Bespoke - Event for Diner's Club International

A Conversation About British Luxury with Yoshimi Hasegawa as part of an event for Diner's Club International at the British Ambassador's Residence in Tokyo. I was asked to speak as a representative of Drake's, encouraging interest in travel to the UK and London. My responses are thus quite UK / London skewed!

Photos by the event photographer. 

The British Ambassador's Residence in Tokyo


1. You have mentioned that you were born and brought up in London, now you have your own Men’s Fashion brand such as Drakes (tie maker in London) and The Armoury. From your point of view, what do you think of the Men’s Fashion in London in particular a culture of bespoke? Have you had any influence for your career?


Men’s fashion in London is really exceptional right now. With Drake’s, I think we are pushing a kind-of modern British Ivy style. There are also some really great modern designers that are up and coming or have stood the test of time, like SEH Kelly, Private White, Nigel Cabourne, Margaret Howell, etc.


London and the UK in general, is home to a lot of really iconic items in the world of men’s fashion. British cloth may not be as well marketed as Italian cloth but it is superb, especially for suitings. Personally, I tend to use British cloth for my suits and Italian cloth for my sport jackets, but that’s a personal thing. Burberry or Aquascutum trenchcoats. Lavenham’s quilted jacket. Barbour’s country jackets. The list goes on!


As for bespoke, the great houses of Savile Row are doing good work, but I think there’s also a lot of interesting things happening with the independents. Much like in the watch world, where we have the greats like Patek, Jaeger LeCoultre, and then the independents like FP Journe, Phillippe Dufour, we also have Henry Poole, Anderson and Shepeard, alongside the independents like Kathryn Sargent and Thomas Mahon.


It’s the presence of these independents that have had a great influence on me. From an attitude point of view, these are all tailors who left their houses wanting to do something in their way and on their own, but still respecting the traditions they were taught and wish to continue. In terms of the final product, they all made something that has their personality in it, and that is of great importance to me. Product, especially bespoke product, is not about completing a transaction, it is more a human interaction between a tailor and a customer, where they discuss, find solutions and produce something unique and great.


2. Almost every 2 weeks , you are travelling around London, N.Y., Hong Kong and Tokyo. I believe in that you have quite global view. Could you please tell me about Bespoke suits and shoes in London? Why and what is so special?


For me, it can roughly be divided into two camps, the military-cut and the soft-cut. Military would be something like Gieves and Hawkes and soft would be something like Anderson & Sheppard. I don’t think you can say one is better than the other, it just depends on the wearer. I do like the way they do what’s called a “drape” in the chest, so using layers of canvas interlining, building up a chest that slightly stands off the body near the armhole. The effect, I think is very masculine and it’s not something you see in ready-to-wear.


As for shoes, personally, I’m a big fan of Gaziano & Girling and Foster & Son. Tony Gaziano is arguably one of the best designers in the industry and Foster I think is probably the most careful and detail oriented makers in the UK. I think Tony’s last shapes and styles tend to have quite a strong, rakish feeling to them whereas Foster & Son represent a subtle, traditional English look very, very well. I feel that English shoes are the ones that can go everywhere with you, I never feel uncomfortable wearing my English shoes with my Italian suits, whereas I wouldn’t do Italian shoes with English suits.


3. Could you please give us your advice how to choose a tailor and a shoemaker for beginners? What is start?


Visit a few of them, I don’t think anyone will be upset if you are asking some questions as part of your initial research. You can ask things like, what is the house style? What would you recommend for me? Pick a maker makes you feel comfortable. If you can, try and work with someone who is involved in the process of making the shoe instead of a salesperson. Pick a basic style to start with, something that you can wear a lot. For suits, navy jackets or navy or grey suits, for shoes, black or brown oxfords or derbies. Bespoke is a learning experience and it’s important to get a lot of practice. Picking something basic to start with means you can wear it a lot and come back for future orders with some good comments and recommendations. Good clothing and shoes get better with wear and with age. It is important to wear items frequently so they get broken in and you feelcomfortable in them.

Myself, Yoshimi Hasegawa and Ambassador Tom Hitchens


4. Is there any recommendation / favourite place for people are interested in Men’s fashion in London ?

Yes, I love Mayfair. Mayfair is amazing because it is an intersection between art, finance and bespoke makers. You can see some very sophisticated taste on display in that area. You have Savile Row but you also have Sackville Street and St. George St. for tailors. If you go south of Picadilly, you have Jermyn St and St James St., another very beautiful part of Mayfair.


5. How about any restaurant and café , activities in London?


Berry Brothers & Rudd has a wonderful selection and beautiful premises, I think it’s well worth visiting.


Although Trafalgar Square is very busy, I love the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. Though my favourite is the Royal Academy of Art on Picadilly. The café in there is quite relaxing, too.


For restaurants, I think Pollen St Social or Wild Honey are two of my favourites in London, representing modern British cuisine.


The Tate Modern is another outstanding gallery and it has a beautiful restaurant on the roof.


Finally, the Duke’s Bar at The Duke Hotel, is the ultimate place in the world for a gin martini, especially with London No.3 Gin.


6. When you have holiday, where would you like to go to a place in U.K.? and what would you like to do?


To be honest, if I had a holiday, I would just stay in London. There is so much to see and do that I never have time to get around to. I live in the East End and I have a shop in Mayfair but I would love to spend more time in West London or south of the river as well.


I love spending some time in Green Park and Hyde Park. If possible, walk from Knightsbridge to Mayfair via the park, maybe stop in between and sit on a bench and read for a while.  


7. If you say, a luxury experience in U.K., what do you think what is luxury for you?


Two things:


Somewhere in the city with space and quiet is a luxury to me. Some of the private gardens or clubs in London can provide this but it’s hard to get to. My alternative is the park.


The other is career waiters. They are more and more rare but the sort of waiter who can understand their customer and then take care of them properly, has charm and can make great recommendations about the food and wine, I think that is a great luxury.



Thank you very much Mark.  

I appreciate all of you for being here today and hope you all had a good time.