Photo by Mark Cho / Text by Michael Hill
What are you wearing?
A special make up of one of our soft jackets in a vintage bolt of boiled and felted lambswool. Trousers are Fox Bros. Flannel, and Alden for Drake's Chukka. The shirt is one of our new essential Oxford button-down's that we're now making in our own factory down in Somerset. The tie a warp-faced vintage stripe from Autumn/Winter '15 and the hank our vintage skier print in wool/silk.
How did you get started in the industry?
I took every bit of free time I had before going to college to apprentice with weaving and printing mills in Como. Then whilst I was studying I worked Saturdays and holidays for a tailor on Savile Row. I was also fortunate in that my father was a tie maker so growing up I spent a lot of time on the factory floor. I just loved being surrounded by all the wonderful cloth he was working on. It struck me as being a hard life but a good life and it was one I was desperate to get into.
What do you do at Drake's?
I'm the managing/creative director. I help to run the company and develop the collections with my great design team. I then help to market them and work with the retail team, at Clifford St and online, and the wholesale team at Haberdasher Street to sell them. It's genuinely a huge privilege to be helping to steer a company with great people and great heritage into this exciting new chapter.
Do you have any style rules you follow?
I tend to wear a jacket and trousers rather than a suit, ideally tweed in Autumn and Winter, with flannel, cord, or it could be jeans if I'm not wearing a tie. Spread collared shirts in blue and white stripes or Chambray, otherwise a button down in a robust Oxford cloth. I tend to wear Ancient Madder, Repp or Grenadine ties, always a four-in-hand. My shoes and boots are snuff suede or Cordovan, my socks over-the-calf navy or purple. If I am wearing a suit, most likely a chalk strip, then I find blue and white striped shirts incredibly useful for joining the tie through to the jacket and vice-versa. For example if I'm wearing a polka dot tie, and thinking about it I'd only wear polka dots with a suit, then I'd always wear a striped shirt. Finally, I don't own a suit that I can wear in the Spring/Summer months and I don't wear black, unless I'm wearing a Dinner Jacket. In short: smart comfortable!
Your family has been in tie-making for a few generations now, do you think that has had any effect on you?
Although I've never worked for my father (not in a salaried capacity at least!) it must have had an influence. It's true that I've followed him in terms of the industry he went into but irrespective of that I perhaps feel it was his dedication and ethic that has the biggest effect on me. While I don't claim to have followed him in that regard there's no doubt his example taught me a lot. Growing up I would travel the country with him in one of his countless navy blue Volvo Estates full of bales of cloth (the Volvo was the best estate for carting cloth around given it had the largest boot capacity!) visiting suppliers and out-workers, listening to him talking about the trade and its many characters. I was fascinated. But it was the cloth that I really wanted to understand and work with. I'm extremely conscious that we are nothing without great cloth. Even as artisans ourselves at Haberdasher St. our job is simply to make something that best celebrates the beautiful cloth we're making from. And in terms of how I look at things at Drake's I would only hope that one day I can hand over to someone with a great commitment towards what we do and a vision for how that could evolve in order to give the best opportunity for everyone working in the company.
Do you think your style has changed over the years?
I suppose it evolves. Perhaps you get better or more particular in terms of knowing what you enjoy wearing and feel comfortable in. I'm always excited by unusual cloth that I can't wait to wear, but in general perhaps ones parameters become a touch narrower, because you know what works, and therefore what doesn't! That said I always say that although we make clothes, and hopefully beautiful things, they are after all only clothes; they're there to be enjoyed. Why not experiment a little to find what works rather than always rigidly sticking to the rules. Better to have your own sensibility than be a prospector and if that takes some imagination then all the better.
Name 3 ties that are must-have for you?
An Ancient Madder print, repp stripe and four-knot grenadine.