Monday, 31 October 2011

Hello Du-Bye

I touched down in Dubai at around midnight for a Hackett shop opening party the following evening, and the oppressive heat and humidity hit me immediately. Fortunately, the hotel had laid on a limousine into which I scrambled with much relief. The driver deftly handed me a tray laid out with an ice cold towel and chilled energy drink that had been secreted in a fridge under the front passenger seat. It was most welcome and unexpected.

Slumped in the back seat, I was transported quietly and swiftly along vast deserted highways that cut through fantastically shaped skyscrapers. I passed the tallest building in the world, which reminded me of a silver propelling pencil, and a brace of towers that resembled segments of an orange. The people of the United Arab Emirates have carved a skyline from the desert which will become as recognisable as New York or London.

At the hotel my luggage was received with some puzzlement. Was that it? One bag? Indeed it was - I have finally learned how to travel light. I now cram as much as I can into one holdall, in order for it to fit in the overhead locker. Of course, my suits look as though I have slept in them for a week, but with a pressing service available at the hotel it is preferable to hanging around and waiting interminably for the luggage to appear off a halfhearted carousel.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Photo Opportunity: Autumn/Winter 2011

I like taking photographs, and going on a Hackett photo shoot gives me the opportunity to take some snaps whilst endeavouring to keep clear of the official snapper. Located in this blog is a slideshow selection of my pictures taken when we shot this Autumn's brochure.

It never ceases to amaze me what a production it is to muster together thirty to forty photographs to make into the brochure - I can't imagine the numbers required when making a movie. For starters there is the photographer, lighting assistant, computer technician, film maker plus assistant and some poor guy straight out of college who has to lug all the equipment around.

Then you have the models - a couple of boys and a wafer thin girl who all need to have hair and makeup - which means there are hairdressers and their assistants. Someone has to take care of wardrobe which involves needing a seamstress and assistant, and of course you need a stylist to put the clothes together, with an assistant to add the finishing touches to an ensemble.

None of this would be possible without a production team who are tasked with getting everyone to the locations, which in this case meant the countryside one day, London the next and the following day Switzerland (which I sadly missed). There's also the job of keeping them fed and watered which entails the necessity of van drivers and catering crew, and a chap who looks after all the props - naturally with his assistant.

Mysteriously, around lunchtime the numbers seem to increase even more, but I generally have no idea who they are or what they do. I have decided that next year I too shall have an assistant, as it seem to be the must-have accessory.

After all I need someone to take off the lens cover.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Shear Delight: A Celebration of Wool

All my working life I have been surrounded by wool. From my early days as a junior in a tailor's shop, and today when browsing through woollen pattern bunches, I am as excited by wool as I was then.

At Hackett we use an enormous amount of wool to make our clothing, from merino socks to worsted suits. We are famous for our tweed jackets that are made from the wool of cheviot sheep bred in the borders of Scotland and from sheep bred on Exmoor. We stock knitwear from sheep bred on the Shetland Isles for its home spun appearance, and further afield Geelong wool, (the first cut from the sheep) for making our pullovers a soft fine wool from Australia with a luxurious handle. We source from Hinchcliffe, yarn to make up into lambswool sweaters, hats, gloves, scarves and picnic rugs. Our fine knit lightweight jerseys are made from New Zealand merino.

But mostly we use wool when making up our designer menswear suits. In the Winter, nothing looks better or feels better than a woollen flannel suit, and we source the material from Fox Bros in Somerset - probably the oldest mill in the country, with which I have been doing business for more than 25 years. There is often the misconception that wool is only a fabric for Winter, but a great number of our Summer suits are made from lightweight yarns that originate from sheep bred on the grasslands of South Africa.

Unlike cotton there is an elasticity in wool that makes for far greater comfort in warmer climes. It also drapes better than cotton. Our most popular suit is The Travel Suit where we use three ply Hi Twist New Zealand merino yarns to create a suit that is both extremely lightweight and wrinkle free. When I am in the country and I happen to gaze through parkland fencing at a centuries old pastoral scene of sheep grazing contentedly I am reminded of the fact that it is part of the fabric of England.

And long may it prosper.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Thank You

Thank you to everybody who requested one of my postcards which I hope you have all received.  I was so surprised by the response and I am sorry for those who missed the opportunity to own one, perhaps I'll do another sometime.

Best wishes,


Thursday, 18 August 2011

Postcards From the Past

I recently found this sketch that I had been commissioned to draw by the French magazine Stilleto some years ago, after they had seen my efforts in my book Mr Classic. Our Japanese customers have always been complimentary about my sketches, which has prompted me to make one into a postcard which I shall present to my clients in Tokyo on my next trip in September - signed, naturally.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Festival of Speed

A while ago I was approached by the Italian editor of a very smart publication called Road Book which covers everything from watches to motor cars. He wanted to feature The Festival of Speed in his forthcoming issue, with a little help from myself. Naturally I wanted to create the right impression, so I called Aston Martin, who generously lent me a Rapide - a four door Aston that is so elegant that it looks like and drives like a two door coupe.  

Being anxious to drive the Aston, I was up at the crack of dawn and picked up the editor and photographer who were immediately smitten by the Aston’s stylish lines. Given that I was behind the wheel of the most iconic British car, I felt bound to make a bit of an effort myself, particularly in the company of Italians.  

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The Henley Royal Regatta 2011: Dressing for the Occasion

With Henley Royal Regatta just a couple of weeks away, it is time to think about the most important aspect of this great sporting occasion: what to wear. Whilst there is no strict dress code for the event, if you are planning to be in the stewards’ enclosure then you will need to adhere to the rules of entry which means jacket, collar and tie.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Gentlemen Prefer Suits

It has been said that a gentleman should dress so as not to be noticed. Whilst I understand the sentiment of that statement I don’t entirely agree. If I see a gentleman elegantly attired I can’t help but notice, as sadly today it is all-too-rare an occurrence.

While at one of the many St James’s gentleman’s clubs clustered in London’s West End waiting for my first course of soup to arrive (I believe it was Lord Curzon who once commented that gentlemen do not take soup at luncheon - oh well, never mind), sitting at a long mahogany refectory table with twenty other members, I gazed across the crisp white linen and silver-laid table and soon to be quaffed bottles of Claret, and as is my incurable habit, I noted the suits the gentlemen were wearing: almost without exception they were navy blue.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race 2011

On a not so sunny spring Saturday morning, I went to the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. As Hackett is the official supplier of clothing to the Boat Race and sponsor of the London Rowing Club, the captain of the 155 year old club Steve O’Connor very generously gave over their historic dining room for us to entertain our guests. The room was decorated in typical club style, with panelled walls and mahogany cabinets overflowing with cups and trophies from past victories.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Golden Shears Award 2011

I was thrilled to be invited to join the judging panel for the annual Golden Shears Award that took place last Monday, at the historic Merchant Taylors’ Hall in Threadneedle St in the heart of the city of London, which remarkably has been at the same site since 1347.

The Golden Shears award was set up in 1974 to recognise the talent of young tailors and to assess their skills in cutting, fit and style, with the tailoring firm with the highest overall score being presented with the award. One of my fellow judges was Deborah Meaden of Dragons’ Den fame who in reality is far removed from her television persona, and to whom I am eternally grateful for coming to the rescue of the illustrious woollen mill Fox Bros when it faced closure last year. Its future is bright and Hackett will now be assured of stocks of grey flannel for many years to come.

Merchant Taylors’ Hall - Photograph by Matt Brown

Friday, 18 March 2011


Last Thursday I flew to Tokyo for a personal tailoring event at our shop in Marunouchi accompanied by Graham Simpkins, my very capable tailoring manager. We landed at Haneda airport at about 5.30 am on Friday morning and went straight to our hotel for a shower and breakfast, before heading off to the Hackett shop.

It was to be a busy day with many appointments having been arranged. It was all going to plan, with our Japanese customers clearly enjoying the process of having a suit made and deliberating over the finer points of buttons and linings.

At about 3pm, I suddenly felt faint and giddy which I put down to not yet having had lunch when one of the shop staff exclaimed it was an earthquake and quickly pushed me under a table. Everything in the shop began to shake violently and the shop windows vibrated menacingly. The first tremors lasted a few minutes and passed.

Friday, 11 March 2011

A Question of "Man Bags"

An enquiring reader writes:

Hello there Mr. Hackett,
I read somewhere that you carry round your glasses, diary and keys in a camera bag. Would it be possible please to see a picture of the bag to give me an idea of what style you use, as I always find "man bags" a difficult look to get right? Thank you.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Well Spotted: New Season Looks for The Spring & Summer

Finally, on a spring-like morning, I am able to divest myself of my overcoat, scarf, hat and knitted gloves after a long and gruelling winter - though it may still be a little premature to forego the vest.

I decided it was time to drop by our Sloane Street shop and peruse the new range for Spring/Summer 2011. As I walked into the shop I was hit by a mass of colour - daffodil coloured cotton chinos, rose shaded linen trousers and magnolia cotton cricket sweaters, alongside Liberty flower print shirts. I think that’s enough flowery analogy.
This may surprise you but I’m not very good at shopping. I tend to get overawed by the array of products on display and I am invariably drawn to anything blue. I was particularly taken by our new blazer. I know what you’re thinking, there he goes again talking about blazers, but this one is quite different. It is made from a heavyweight cotton pique similar to our polo shirt fabric.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Royal Wedding Kit

With a Royal wedding only a couple of months away, there is great excitement on the fashion pages as to what Kate Middleton will be wearing for the great day. I am more concerned about what Prince William decides to wear. Will it be the whole morning coat kit or will he opt for uniform? It’s giving me sleepless nights.

The Royal Family have always worn morning dress well, from the Duke of Windsor to the Duke of Edinburgh. Prince Charles always looks his best attired in tails and his sons carry on the tradition looking as though they have always worn it - which in a way they have, having been required to wear it at Eton.

Purely for commercial reasons, I am hoping that Prince William will choose to wear morning dress. If he does, it’s my betting is that it will be the most fashionable must have of the season. Unlike most men who leave sorting out their wedding kit until the last moment, I’m sure the Prince’s valet has already lined up a tailor to make his outfit, and that all the cutters on Savile Row are anxiously awaiting a call from the palace.

Given that Prince Charles favours Welsh and Jeffries, the long established military tailors, that’s a possibility. The proprietor, Malcolm Plews, has a renowned reputation with the shears on the Row. It could also be Henry Poole, the oldest tailors in the street, whose clients have previously included Winston Churchill - however, discretion being one of their hallmarks, they are not saying anything and nor am I!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The Annual Klosters Snow Polo Event

Last weekend I travelled to Klosters in Switzerland with my sponsorship manager, Neil Bugler, for the annual Berenberg Bank Snow Polo event, for which Hackett are the clothing sponsor. We got off to a good start as Aston Martin had laid on a black Rapide for us to drive from Zurich to Klosters. We took a detour via the new Hackett shop in Zurich to pick up a hat and gloves that I had forgotten to pack - and thank goodness I did, as at times in Klosters it was a breathtaking -18!

As we powered up the winding mountain roads, the snow became thicker and the sky blue. In no time Klosters came into view, nestled in a valley with the Polo Club taking central stage. Klosters has long been popular with the British, enhanced over the years by visiting royalty. Judging by the number plates in the car park, they were here in force.

We arrived just in time to see the Hackett team being thrashed by the Aston Martin team, but it was early days in the tournament and at least they were well turned out.

We set up a Hackett shop next to the polo ground which was doing a roaring trade, and although I was wearing several layers, I was still cold. I bought a sweater emblazoned with the Klosters logo with a 1940s font across the front. I tucked my corduroys into my long red socks to complete the retro look.

Friday, 7 January 2011

A Shirt Tale of Bespoke Tailoring

For the first time some months ago, we introduced our personal shirt service where you could have a shirt individually made to your own fitting. In the past, I have always worn ready-made shirts so now was obviously the ideal time to try out our new service.

I went to see big Phil who works upstairs in our Sloane Street shop, who was taking care of the tailoring side of things and is a man with an in-depth knowledge on all matters sartorial. Phil proceeded to show me a whole array of beautiful two fold cotton shirtings, while pointing out that I only needed to order one shirt and as it was my first shirt. His sensible advice to me was that I should choose one to start with.

I decided that a blue end-on-end material would always useful. He showed me half a dozen collar shapes from severe cut-away to gentle pointed collars. Naturally I chose one that was called Jeremy - a classical regular collar, although he tried to encourage me to go for the James Bond cuffs! I instead opted for a traditional double cuff.