Tuesday, 11 December 2012

HO HO HO


The piece below I wrote sometime ago for the Independent on Sunday Magazine and I thought now was the moment to resurrect the story.


"It is curious that Father Christmas has never made it on to any of the best dressed men’s lists that I know of. A man who for generations has dressed up in his best on Christmas Eve and given so generously has been totally ignored by the fashion press. I appreciate that his outfit is somewhat garish and eccentric but it is individual and for that reason alone he should be admired. He is obviously a man who knows what he likes and sticks with it. But Father Christmas has not always been wed to red, before the 1930s he wore green to symbolise the coming of spring. 

When he was approached by the marketing executives of Coca cola they convinced him that red would be much more fun and that it would raise his profile enormously: he would only have to wear it for the month of December and he would be expected to put in a number of select appearances, naturally all his travel expenses would be settled with one proviso; if he failed to appear on Christmas Eve then his contract would become null and void. At the time his astute agent readily agreed with the caveat that Father Christmas would do no television shows or motivational talks for corporate businesses on the basis that Father Christmas’s private life was his own affair and besides it would detract from the whole aura and mystery.

What appears to be the longest celebrity endorsement on record now seems ready for a make over. It is rumoured that his new agent is exploring a whole host of sponsorship deals, Guinness was mentioned but Father Christmas was adamant that he would not wear black. U.P S. tried to muscle in with a licensing deal dreamt up by the advertising whiz kids from A.B.C. Inc, whereupon Father Christmas exploded and exclaimed had he not in all his years delivered the children’s presents promptly and in any case he was adverse to brown. And when manager agent suggested that he should consider loosing some weight, after all you aren’t getting any younger and perhaps trim that beard a little, well you can imagine Father Christmas was beside himself and although he could see the benefits attached to a deal with B.A., it would after all make delivering parcels so much easier he declined graciously as he was far to attached to his reindeers. 

When the proposal to update his wardrobe was put forward he was a little hesitant but the new stream lined ski-wear he had to admit was not only practical and warm and red and as the pretty marketing lady had pointed out it made him look so modern and chic. Finally when he saw the monogrammed parcel sacks with interlocking reindeers he was totally won over. He would as the marketing blurb had suggested truly be a Father Christmas for the 21st century."

Merry Christmas from Jeremy Hackett

Monday, 10 September 2012

Diamond Giza

Sometimes a fashion trend comes along and I think yes, that is perfect for Hackett - so it is with the tab collar shirt. It is enjoying a revival which up to now, seems only to have been worn by German chief executives of large pharmaceutical conglomerates.

I can distinctly remember when I first spotted a tab collar shirt. I must have been about fourteen at the time and was watching Top of the Pops on our black and white television set. The enigmatic Charlie Watts and pouting Mick Jagger were both wearing white tab collar shirts. From that moment onwards I craved to own one and nagged my Mother incessantly to buy one for me, insisting that if it was white I could wear it to school. White shirts were part of the uniform and nowhere did it say that tab collars were not allowed.

When I later worked in Savile Row, opposite was a little shirt maker which I think was called Coles. It was where I first indulged in having a bespoke shirt made. It was the seventies and tab collar shirts were all the rage so naturally once again I had to have one.

Now decades later, I find I am once again being drawn to this neat collar shape. For the last couple of seasons, we have included tab collar shirts in our ranges but I thought I would try out our Made to Order shirts. Of course the only man to see is Big Phil, who runs our tailoring department in our Sloane Street store, which is in fact soon to be expanded as we have taken another floor to showcase all our tailoring needs.

Big Phil guided me expertly through the shirt procedure. When it came to choosing cloth I said I just wanted the perfect white shirt, having already decided that the collar would be a tab. What you want, he said - is our Giza 87 quality. It is a white shirt material like no other and of course he was absolutely right.

It is a tightly woven Cotton made from long staple cotton that is grown on the banks of the Nile close to the city of Giza. It has a wonderful silky lustre and it is also the whitest of white making washing powder companies claims of whiter than white pale into insignificance. The Egyptian fabric is woven in Italy by the famous manufacturer, Thomas Mason, who take great care to eliminate any contamination, ensuring that the fabric is pure and brilliant in hue.

I am really looking forward to picking up my Giza shirt. I only wish it wasn't called Giza which in Britain is pronounced Geezer!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Colourful Shoelaces

I don't know about you but the recent trend for coloured shoelaces had completely passed me by; keep up Jeremy! A friend of mine, who is a shoe nut, sent me a text telling me about this current fashion phenomenon that was sweeping Milan. How could I have missed this revolution in Men’s fashion?


A few days later, I was passing a new shoe shop in Motomb St called Corthay, a French bespoke shoemaker. In the window was a pair of black shoes with red shoelaces. Immediately I purchased the laces from the very charming and knowledgeable shop manager.

It struck me that here was a way to freshen up a pair of sensible black shoes or add a touch of colour to a pair of broken down battered brown brogues for the cost of a pair of shoelaces.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Put Out More Bunting

At the time of the Golden Jubilee, we created a tweed to celebrate the occasion, so it seemed natural to follow it up for the Diamond Jubilee.

Inspired by the ribbons of the medals that the Queen will be handing out, the tweed has a silver grey background with a red and royal blue over check. From this cloth, which has been woven exclusively for us in Scotland, we have made jackets, waistcoats and trousers. We have also used the tweed to make into bags, flat caps and a picnic rug.

Sometime ago, I found in the market, a silk pocket square which was made in 1937 to mark the occasion of the coronation of GeorgeVI, which we have re-created. On the big day I shall be waving my pocket square and wearing my Diamond Jubilee Tweed jacket no matter how hot it is.

This year there will be no need to put the bunting back in the attic because following on from the Diamond Jubilee is another momentous event to celebrate; The Hackett Rundle Cup!

My Sussex Spaniel, Browney, enjoying the festivities





Thursday, 3 May 2012

Mr Simple

It has just struck me that the last two blogs I posted were; Mr Sandman and Mr Ackett, so to make a trilogy of blogs, I couldn't resist adding Mr Simple.


Last December I was in Melbourne and stumbled across a shop called Mr Simple that sold casual Men's clothes. I really wasn't that interested in buying anything but I desperately wanted their carrier bag so I purchased a pair of stubbies, that's shorts to you and me and left the shop delighted with my Mr Simple bag.

I recently read somewhere a quote by Cary Grant that the key to dressing was simplicity, though perhaps not as simple as my photograph depicts.


Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Mr Ackett – Hackett comes to Milan

Welcome to Grand Hotel Milano, Mr Ackett. I love the way the Italians drop their aitches, it sounds so much more charming than when spoken by the English.


The hotel was conveniently located about 50 yards from our new flagship store on Via Manzoni. A retired and immaculately attired fashion editor related to me the story that Ackett is on the same site that around fifty years ago, a famous Milanese Tailor had plied his trade. He had visited the shop to interview Clark Gable who was being measured for a suit at the time, so we have a lot to live up to.

Our business in Italy has been growing steadily and for the last three years, we have been selling to a number of shops around the country but never the whole concept of Hackett. This has prompted us to open now and with the economy in disarray, what better time to set up shop.

Sandwiched between Via Monte Napoleone and Via Della Spiga, two of the most famous shopping streets in the world, we are well placed to look after the well heeled Italians who stroll around this fashion centre.

Whenever we open a new shop, I declare it is the best one yet but I have to say Via Manzoni has set a new standard for us. It is a beautiful shop. Refined and elegant like a London Town house nestled in the heart of Mayfair, transported to the heart of Milan.




I particularly admire the long and winding staircase that leads to the tailoring room. Here customers can relax, enjoy a drink whilst ordering suits, shirts or even monogrammed ties. It is a quiet haven from the bustle of the street; although I hope not too quiet.

To mark our presence in Milan, it was important to make a bit of noise. We embarked on a couple of marketing wheezes, where we dressed a dozen models in our Mayfair tailored suits gave them Bowler hats and Umbrellas and a spoof copy of a newspaper that we named The London Times. Emblazoned on the cover was the announcement that Hackett had come to Milan accompanied with photographs of the Hackett advertising.

The models were then placed in strategic positions around Milan, including exiting a London taxi, taking tea at local cafes and generally having a lot of fun. We even brought the rain with us. It caused quite a stir, in fact you can check out the video we made of it.

Whilst all this was going on, I was conducting interviews with numerous magazines. What strikes me about the Italians is their love of fashion which starts when they are very young. I was chatting to a chic couple with their children in our Little Britons department. The children knew exactly what they wanted and when they tried on various items, they wore them with ease and confidence.

Fashion is everywhere in Milan and whether it is cutting edge or classic, there is an overall appreciation of it. Walking down Via Monte Napoleone, I noticed a manhole cover painted in bright colours and I thought even manhole covers are fashionable.

My main reason to be in Milan was for our opening party. As is the tradition, I arrived in a convertible Aston Martin DB9 with the hood down just as it began to rain. Fortunately, I had an umbrella. The party was a huge success, attracting more than five hundred people including a number of famous Italian actors.

One of the most popular attractions was the London cab done up as a photo booth with instant pictures which could be left in the London telephone box adjacent to the cab. We had arranged to have a seamstress on hand to monogram handkerchiefs for our guests as they left. A gift not to be sneezed at. On the back page of our spoof newspaper was the headline ‘Have you seen Mr Classic; he was last seen leaving the building...’





Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Mr Sandman

I have just made a flying visit to Dubai to support The British Polo Day of which we are the main sponsor. True to form, the organisers had put on a tremendous show. Lunch was laid out under white canopies where we sat enjoying canapés and quaffing champagne - I tell you it's tough.

The day had begun with a series of interviews with local journalists - now that is tough! The Polo kicked off with Camel Polo, a game I had never watched before. It was amusing if slightly ungainly I must say. The following matches, on ponies, were played at a much faster pace with Oxford against Cambridge, Eton against Harrow and the Army played against a local team and in true British fashion, our Army team lost.

This being a very British event, the Expats were out in force. Linen and khaki cotton suits or navy blazers were the order of the day. I chose to wear a blue and white cotton seersucker suit with a white double cuff shirt - well standards must be maintained.

Neil, my sponsorship manager, had joined me for the trip and acted as my driver the following day when we drove to the desert to shoot some pictures of the Aston Martin Vantage S that had very generously been loaned to us.

We decided to go off piste to really capture the desert environment; big mistake. We got stuck in the sand, not able to go forward or backwards. Fortuitously, a passing Arab gentleman came to the rescue and equipped with a shovel proceeded to dig us out of the hole we had foolishly made. It was déjà vu having been to Klosters in January, where our Aston had to be dug out of the snow. I said to Neil, in future I am not going anywhere with you, without a shovel unless, of course, Aston Martin develop a 4X4! I was so relieved to have been helped by this kindly man, that I suggested to Neil that we give him some cash, meaning Neil pay the man. We then realised that neither of us had brought any dirhams and he was unlikely to take a cheque, even if it was supported by a cheque guarantee card. As we were in the desert to shoot some mood pictures, we fortunately had some Hackett samples so I routed through the boot of the Aston and found a white linen shirt which, with much ceremony, I handed it to him and shook hands. He was visibly touched.

We were at last able to get on with the photo shoot dressed in various Khaki outfits I posed with the Aston and then Neil posed with the Aston. Finally, pleased with the results, we set off back to Dubai. Relieved to have survived what could have been a sticky situation, I found myself humming the old Andrew Sisters song, Mr Sandman, out of tune naturally.

We had one more event to attend, which was The Dubai Gold Cup. We had been invited by the Editor of The Rake magazine, a very grown up men's lifestyle publication. It was a hot ticket as it is the biggest event in the Dubai social calendar - if you don't count The Hackett British Polo Day!

It was a spectacular evening with the best horses and jockey’s competing for an unbelievable cash prize. Sheik Mohammed, who owns the whole set up was at the prize giving and was only distinguishable by his robes which, were several shades darker than everyone else in white robes. We had to leave before the last race as our plane was at 1am. After an incredibly full weekend, I slept the whole way home.

A cab was waiting for me when I arrived and the driver turned around to me and said " Are you The Jeremy Hackett" to which I felt like replying no I'm a desert prat.




Monday, 5 March 2012

Made in Britain

Last month, London was buzzing with fashion week. For me, what was most significant was the raising of the profile - Made in Britain. It now appears that all over the world there is a real appetite for all things British.

We have a wealth of talented young designers putting together collections that are made here in Britain. Sir Philip Green, one who is never slow to react to a trend, is lending his support for British manufacturing. A move I applaud, though quite sensibly with the caveat that it must be sustainable.

I remember when I started Hackett, 99% of what we sold was made in The British Isles. Sadly, over the last 25 years, a great number of the factories I worked with have closed down. Fortunately, we still have a relatively strong cloth manufacturing business, though that too has shrunk in the last couple of decades. It’s refreshing to see mills like Fox Bros in Somerset enjoying a revival under new ownership having previously almost gone bankrupt. Harris Tweed too is making a strong comeback.

Slowly but surely small factory units are once again opening but I think it is something the government should get behind and actively encourage with grants to open manufacturing bases across the country. Creating jobs for our disenchanted youth because the fashion business is a young and vibrant business and here is an opportunity to teach them a trade.

Britain was famous for its manufacturing and I as one retailer will buy Made in Britain. After all, it's what made us great.


Thursday, 9 February 2012

Hackett and BAFTA

Below is a brief interview conducted by The Style King where we chatted about the forthcoming BAFTA awards and now that the event is almost upon us I am becoming very excited.


Q. What does it mean for you to be involved with the BAFTAs?


It is a great opportunity to be on the inside track and be able to witness first hand the tension, the triumphs and inevitably the tears as the actors put on stellar performances. The whole event is worth a BAFTA in itself. Of course I shall be checking out all the outfits, I can't help myself.

Q. What other events are Hackett working on this year?

We are involved in a number of sponsorships including the Klosters Snow Polo, Dubai British Polo Day and The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race - we will be dressing the players and crew for each of these events. The biggest event of the season will be the opening of our flagship store in Milan in March.

Q. What would be your tips for any man attending a black tie event for the first time?

My mantra is formal dress is not fancy dress so keep it simple, it's all about shape, proportion, and fit. Tailored, single breasted, peaked lapel dinner jacket and white, marcella, double cuff dress shirt with studs not buttons (studs should match cufflinks) and dress watch, black silk self-tie bow tie (not ready made). It really is not difficult to tie, just think of tying your shoelaces, even I can manage it and I'm left handed.

Q. What is your favourite film of all time and why?

It is not so much a film as a series of movies, the Ealing comedies of the 1950s and early 60s, why they bother to try to reinvent them I'll never know as they cannot be surpassed.

Q. Do you have a favourite actor?

I have always liked Paul Newman; he never looked as though he was acting.


Thursday, 2 February 2012

LOST IN KLOSTERS

Accompanied by my sponsorship manager Neil, his fragrant wife, Lynden and a charming Gentleman from the London Fashion Council, Jenico, we all clambered into the awaiting engine throbbing Aston Martin Rapide that was there to greet us outside the terminal in Zurich. Taking us from our economy flight, first class to Klosters for the annual snow polo event, where we are the clothing sponsor.



As we drove seamlessly to Klosters, Jenico regaled us with amusing inside stories about the fashion business and how he was busy with the forthcoming fashion week preparations. He also explained how the fashion council help and advise fledgling raw talent learn to cope with the rigours of developing their artisan business into a brand which was very insightful.

One of Jenico's responsibilities during fashion week is to ensure that sponsors are afforded maximum exposure and that there is no contamination of their brand. This is called "Brand Hygiene", an expression I had never heard before and found hysterical. For instance, as a sponsor of Aston Martin, if I turned up for a public event in another model of car, that shall remain nameless (you see I am already being brand hygienic!) and I was photographed, it would have to be air freshened out as it would be breaking the brand hygiene rules! I shall be rigorously spring cleaning the office when I get back.

About three miles outside of Klosters, it began to snow heavily and by morning the Aston was covered in two foot of snow - the heaviest snowfall since 1965. We dug the Aston out and put it in the garage for the remainder of our stay and walked everywhere dressed head to toe in Hackett, fulfilling my brand hygiene footprint.

Last year it was bitterly cold, –15, and I froze in my tweed jacket and plus 4s so this year I took a more practical approach and wore a bright red parka and of course it turned out to be a balmy –3 so now I was too hot!

We watched the Hackett team play and lose, so we consoled ourselves in the hospitality tent where it seemed every other person was dressed in Hackett! Our brand hygiene was working a treat.

The highlight of the weekend was the charity dinner in aid of Sentebale. The ambassador for the cause was Annie Lennox, who spoke movingly on behalf of the charity. I am pleased to hear they raised a considerable amount in the auction - one Gentleman forking out CHF 8,500 for the privilege of owning a Hackett personally tailored suit. To help bump up the price, I said I would sew the buttons on myself! On reflection I'm not sure that was a good move?

I bumped into Simon Le-Bon, who's band Duran Duran had been playing earlier in the day and who's impromptu renditions of their hits raised even more money, an extraordinary man in an ordinary world.

Despite the Hackett team having lost in Klosters, they were immaculately turned out, ensuring our brand hygiene remained intact. Job done!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Pitti as a Picture: Preparing for the Annual Pitti Pilgrimage

Every season we make a pilgrimage to Pitti for the menswear fair. Beforehand, we always do a pre-Pitti photo shoot to photograph a selection from our Autumn Winter 2012 collection. I always take a camera with me to the studio to try and grab a few shots between the official pictures.

I took the model to one side and snapped him in a corner of the studio surrounded by plinths and poly boards. In black and white the picture feels as though it was taken in the early 1960s, of an artist in his studio - a cross between Hockney and Warhol.


The image I shot on the staircase, framed by the balustrade, reminds me of the famous and flamboyant pencil thin Dandy Bunny Rogers, who would often be seen strolling around Mayfair, dressed to the nines in severely tailored Savile row suits that he wore with extremely high stiff collared shirts and a bowler hat.


The picture with the model seated wearing a three piece suit has the look of a presenter from the 1960s television show, That Was The Week That Was. The final portrait could be an undergraduate straight out of Oxford circa 1960s.  



Clothes never cease to amaze me in the way they transform people. You can be whatever you want, which sounds like a good new year’s resolution. Happy New Year.