Those of you who are fans of the outstanding magazine Monocle (a global briefing on style/politics/culture/urban planning) are probably familiar with Drakes London. Monocle’s founding editor-in-chief, Tyler Brule, devoted a recent editor’s page to this remarkable neck wear firm. No mere affectation, the “London” portion of the name is very much a badge of honor. Their ties are, in fact, handmade in London.
Based in Clerkenwell, the Drakes workshop is a wonderful example of “slow fashion.” Outsourcing and high speed production might get ties out the door and on the sales shelf faster and more cheaply, but that will never happen because Drakes takes particular pride in its British heritage and craftsmen quality. Such dedication to their craft is a matter of principle and that alone makes it worthy of a formal OTC recommendation.
Neckties are an interesting thing; they are functionless beyond adornment yet prized for their ability to convey status ranging from revered gravitas to comical idiocy. Most holiday theme ties fall into the latter category, whether deliberately so or not. And while some men view choosing a necktie as another in a series of forced convention, many instead see it as an opportunity to telegraph values, quality, style, personality and craftsmanship. In the case of some high-end brands like Hermes, that message tends to be blunt: “this thing is expensive and the best, and so am I.”
Drakes takes a different approach. A Drakes London tie can be a bit anonymous, in the sense that on the surface it is elegant and exceptionally finished but not “known”. It looks good without announcing its maker, and that’s a nice quality because the tie is noticed over the brand. Their ties are substantial yet soft, well proportioned and timeless in design.
Drakes ties can be found in conservative clothing haunts like Knize in Vienna (which, as the Drakes website points out, is known to be more conservative than the Catholic Church) and cutting edge clothiers such as Comme des Garcons. Here in Washington, D.C., they are carries by William Fox & Co., a true haberdashery. Being somewhat busy these days, I simply hopped on the internet and had one shipped right to me.
My particular Drakes London tie is pictured below – as it arrived from overseas, the excellent packaging and presentation and as it was recently worn to the office.
Off to work
Though on the narrower side, its shape is classic and works well with a variety of suit styles. Knowing that I was wearing something lovingly crafted by an actual person in an actual workshop is a refreshing feeling. Drakes ties are not fast fashion and they are not meant to have a “season,” but rather a lifetime.
On the first day I wore my new neck wear, I received numerous unsolicited compliments from both men and women. The men tended to like the tie’s construction and balanced proportions while the women all loved the quality of the silk and its color combination.
All of these attributes speak to the effort and thought that go into Drakes ties – and that’s a good thing because they are not inexpensive. Of course handmade and hand finished quality is going to cost you, but if you are looking to add one good tie to your wardrobe this one is worth the expense.
In addition to ties, Drakes makes a variety of other products including pocket squares, scarves, shirting, belts, and hosiery. The images above are from Drakes’ Spring/Summer 2009 Look Book.
Visit their website at www.Drakes-London.com.