Over the past several years there hasn’t been a more revered menswear label than Drake’s London. Known especially for their elegant ties, they also are sought after for their pocket squares and scarves. Founded by Michael Drake in 1977, Drake’s recently was acquired by the same team that founded that Shangri-la of menswear stores Hong Kong’s The Armoury.
Once only carried as a featured accessories label in high end shops around the world, Drake’s now has its own shop just off Savile Row on Clifford Street in London. I made a visit a priority on my recent London stop, and Drake’s certainly lived up to expectations.
Drake’s has moved beyond its roots into shirts, sweaters, and elegant tailored clothing. And while the January sales were on, the prices still were not for the faint of heart.
Because of Drake’s popularity, they recently moved into a new London factory on the aptly named Haberdasher Street. The commitment to London manufacturing is refreshing and encouraging. But a new factory space might be of only passing interest but for the fact that Drake’s also opened a factory shop to go with it.
This is a factory shop in the old, true sense of the term, not an “outlet shop” in a touristy strip mall that carries off-shore junk made solely for supposed markdown. It is stocked with last season’s goods, or possibly unsold items returned from men’s shops, in other words, first quality merchandise.
While still in London, the factory and shop are a good distance from the haute of the Row. I took the tube to Old Street station with my street map in hand. Haberdasher Street is only a short walk, but I didn’t want to get turned around and make it there after the shop had closed.
When I arrived the store was empty save for the lovely lady running the shop. She rang me in as this is not really a retail area. The shop is well organized, well lit, and well stocked. It was not a let down from the retail store at all. I’ll take two of everything.
Prices certainly are marked down from Drake’s wallet emptying retail, but don’t expect any absolute steals. Drake’s knows the quality and desirability of what they make, and they know you’ll pay it if you want it.
I surveyed the goods, and while I love Drake’s ties and pocket squares I knew they would only be worn sparingly considering I have too many ties and pocket squares already. One thing that has been on my wish list, though, is a Fair Isle scarf, and Drake’s produces some of the nicest available.
I pulled three, took them to the counter, and talked through the colorway options with the lady in charge. When it comes to something multicolored like Fair Isle it helps for me to consult with someone who has more accurate eye cones than mine. I chose one with grays, blues, and reds, and look forward to wearing it for years to come.
Don’t miss the chance to visit the shops, particularly the factory store, if you find yourself with some time to spare in London. You may want to start counting your pence now.