Will we see more Drake’s stores?
We would like to open more stores but we aren’t looking to set up a lot of them and it’s more likely that our next move would probably be another city in the world. Drake’s, although English has always had an international flavour combining the best elements of clothing and design that you may see in cities like Paris, Rome, Tokyo or New York so it seems natural that we would look to have our next store located outside of London and the U.K.
(Laughs) Would love to but we will see.
Drake’s has been involved in a lot of collaborations over the years why do you do this and what are the benefits of these collaborations?
Collaborations are rather trendy now but we always have to do it for the right reasons. We are lucky enough to work with those people that you mention but those are brands that we like. We don’t just look at it from a financial perspective or as a means of benefitting mutually from our brand equity. They are brands that we admire and hope that we can learn something from - that could be marketing or artistic or from another product point of view. Those collaborations are put together for the right reasons where we think we can bring something to the table and so can they, a good example was working with Commes Des Garcons where they took away some of our designs but we got some great inspiration from their amazing colour ways. I often think that our business has always been about collaborations in the way that we work with our retail customers. We work with some very talented buyers and we have never sold our ties to them by dictating what they should be selling. Those buyers will often come up with ideas and suggestions about colour ways and designs that will be good for their customers and we have always taken this on board and accommodated them so in a sense collaborations are nothing new to us.
You have started offering custom ties, which is rather unusual and something that a lot of people I am sure would be interested in, how does it work?
We have been offering this through the site and the store. If you’re a little bit taller or shorter depending on how you want to wear the tie you can have a tie that can be worn perfectly. It’s really the natural and perfect accompaniment to the customer that would have a bespoke suit made. We will cut one tie completely by hand here in Clerkenwell. 142-160 in length is normally what we would do but this could be more or it could be less, we also offer different inter linings as some people prefer a tie with more body or perhaps less for a summer tie.
How do you feel about the subject of dressing one’s age? Normally we think of this to be about older men dressing young but there are also a lot of younger men dressing "older" as well now with shows like Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men firmly influencing trends.
Dressing your age is a helpful guide line but I think there should always be room for individuality. Classic menswear shouldn’t always be about conformity. I think the parameters are always moving albeit slowly in ‘classic’ menswear but there should be room for individuality, intuition and spontaneity as long as this is true to the person themselves. If it’s someone like David Hockney for example and he looks wonderful wearing mismatched socks and he’s happy looking like that and that’s him, we should be pleased that there are people that don’t look like the rest of us.
Do you believe dressing well can make you successful?
I do believe if you consider what you wear you can really help yourself to give off the right signals. We often think of this as dressing in a formal way but it needn’t be. As people are working from home now or in different ways socially, wearing a good pair of casual shoes or knitwear or wearing a great scarf are really just as important signifiers as fine tailoring might be. People are still dressing up though. Our ties, generally speaking can look quite serious and speak to people in a business setting but they can still be beautiful ties without being boring. I think that lots of men who wear a tie in a serious job that don’t want to wear a ‘comedy tie’. Serious in the right way that is, not super fashionable.
What are some of the key pieces you are selling online and in your store now?
Do you have a favorite tie or type of tie?
Real Ancient Madder, authentic grenadine and classic reppes.
I would like to thank Michael for taking the time to do this interview.
Here is a link to Drakes' excellent website: http://www.drakes-london.com/