G: Tell us about your business: What do you do? What did inspire you to start?
The core business of handmade ties, scarves and pocket squares has evolved to form a relevant, men’s haberdashery concept online, at our shop in Clifford Street Mayfair and Factory Shop in Shoreditch’s Haberdasher Street. All items have been carefully sourced and curated in partnership with specialist artisans, ranging from fine knitwear and relaxed tailoring to cufflinks and handmade leather goods.
Drake’s was founded in 1977 by Michael Drake. He learned his trade producing the finest scarves, shawls and plaids for the luxury menswear industry. He championed the workshops and mills of the British Isles and Italy and used only the finest, natural materials. Drake’s quickly gathered a following internationally among those who appreciated the lustre and unique sensibility of colour and exquisite patterns – ranging from the elegantly classic to the whimsical, exotic and bohemian.
I was Michael Drake’s apprentice for eight years following five years at Richard James. To acquire the business with Mark Cho in 2010 was a dream come true. I had a clear idea as to how we could evolve over the coming years and I felt ready to give everything to that. It’s about carefully adhering to the traditions of excellence we’ve inherited and marrying that with a fresh and exciting relevance.
I’m also fortunate that my family has a long history in menswear, which is how I got ‘the bug’ and we’ve recently recruited my father to assist on our printed tie designs as he had his own tie business many years ago.
As well as being a leader in luxury ties, pocket squares and scarves, Drake’s owns the most extensive archive of textiles designs for men’s accessories in England. We have relationships with mills, artisan weavers and printers that go back nearly forty years and this inner circle of masters in the British Isles and Italy facilitates unsurpassable quality as well as the ability to initiate progression and innovation.
It’s not a question of fast fashion. For Drake’s and its customers the journey is all in creating and making stylish items by hand, that stand the test of time.
G: Why did you decide to relocate your operations to Shoreditch?
Although it would have been more cost effective to move further out of London we were determined to stay close to our roots, a stone’s throw as it transpired. Drake’s has always manufactured in London’s East End – indeed the textile industry has been based here since the Huguenots in the eighteenth century – and we’re very proud to be part of that history.
Our new atelier, fittingly in Haberdasher Street, comprises 50 people and it’s the first time that Drake’s has had all operations under one roof – from our design studio to workshop and warehouse. We also have a Factory Shop on the premises.
G: Who/what are your favorite CEOs/Businesses in Shoreditch?
It’s a thriving and exciting community to be part of. I particularly like SEH Kelly and Drake’s has also begun working with the London Cloth Company – the first new mill to be seen in London for a century and run by the young entrepreneur Daniel Harris. Daniel is as passionate as we are in exploring rich, beautiful crafts and interpreting them in contemporary, classic ways that our customers love.
I also enjoy Paul Hedge’s art gallery Hales and my favourite shop is probably Labour & Wait on Redchurch Street. To eat, I regularly frequent Rochelle Canteen and Beagle.
G: What does the future have in store for your business?
Exciting times! As well as opening our new Shoreditch atelier and Factory Shop in Haberdasher Street, Drake’s acquired the last remaining independent shirt maker in England at the end of last year in Rayner & Sturges and Cleeve of London. The fruits of our collaboration can be seen in our new SS14 collection – we’ve revived the Cleeve of London label, founded around the same time as Drake’s.
Our new Cleeve for Drake’s shirts are a modern, somewhat more casual interpretation of a formal dress shirt, not dissimilar in that regard to many of our ties. The right balance, we feel. They can be bought from our Clifford Street store and online, as well as with select wholesale customers from July 2014.
Drake’s has won many awards over the years for its achievements in export. We’re stocked in emporiums such as Barneys, Lane Crawford and Isetan throughout the world but it’s in our home territory of London upon which we’re most focused right now.
We like to think that Drake’s is investment dressing in its truest sense – we offer items that refresh a look and give style confidence but, above all, our accessories are about making the process of dressing a lot more fun!
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