London-based menswear brand Drake’s recently opened its first shop in the US, in a small space in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood. The space, which used to hold a sandwich shop, is lined with racks of clothing and has a vintage table as a centerpiece, covered in the brand’s renowned ties. “It’s a great opportunity for us to offer something beyond the furnishings we’ve traditionally wholesaled,” said Michael Hill, Creative Director of Drake’s. In addition to the wide array of ties, there are beautiful wool blazers, heavy chinos and classic shirts available at the new store. “We feel our shirts, knitwear and tailoring will resonate with our customer, just as they have in London.” After a hectic week of getting product to the US, Hill took a moment to reflect on the opening.
Q: Since 1977, how has the market for men’s clothing and accessories changed?
A: It has of course become more casual, but it’s also become far more nuanced, as well as more international, as the world has become more connected. But there’s also a part of it that hasn’t wavered. Although we’ve evolved, I’d like to think we’re a testament to that, as are so many of the great weavers, printers, knitters and manufactures we still work with nearly 40 years on! There remains a dedication to doing things in a way that is built on decades of experience, and we only see that strengthening.
Q: In that time period, how have men’s attitudes changed in regards to how they dress?
A: Perhaps somewhat ironically, men seem to care more as this formal-to-casual shift has evolved, with clothing continually rising in the priority stakes for men. But the more formal categories haven’t been abandoned; rather, they’re caring more about this category than ever. It’s just that that is not the everyday, sometimes monotonous uniform it once was.
Q: What can American men learn from Drake’s?
A: We’re about color, texture, the classic and perhaps the unexpected — someone recently referred to our look as a soft elegance, and I thought that summed it up perfectly. We really enjoy and are committed to making great furnishing and clothing, and we only want the customer to feel this.
Q: What products are you most excited about now?
A: Our shirts, because we’re very proud to be making a great shirt in our own factory in the southwest of England, and our tailoring, which continues to grow nicely and give us the opportunity to finish a look and really make a full suggestion to the customer.
Q: Can you comment on the state of contemporary men’s tailored clothing?
A: I think it’s easy to be critical, and perhaps broadly speaking, there’s two sides, but despite the shrinking market we’re seeing a lot of positives. For a few years now we’ve witnessed an upsurge in guys being interested in where their clothes come from and how they’re made; in turn the makers are taking note and demonstrating a level of transparency, in order for the customer to be able to judge whether something is genuinely well made. And of course there’s a style element to that, too — we’re seeing a really interesting take on the classics, one that’s rooted and yet at the same time fresh and forward-looking.
What to Buy
A Sampling of Drake’s Best
Lambswool Donegal Watch Cap by Drake’s $60
Pick & Pick Slim Fit Shirt by Drake’s $165
Woven Shantung Triple Stripe Tie by Drake’s $165
Olive Cotton Chinos by Drake’s $295
Single-Breasted Donegal Wool Jacket by Drake’s $1,295