Just as cloudy skies on Groundhog Day predict an early spring, Drake’s autumn lookbooks are a reminder that cooler days lie ahead. This year, the team shot their collection in the Shetland Islands. Which is fitting given how prominently their brushed Shetland cable knits feature in this lookbook. Thick sweaters in sapphire blue, canary yellow, and scarlet red serve as cheerful accents to otherwise drab ensembles made of prickly tweed, napped flannel, and waxed cotton. “We really went in on the knitwear this season,” says Michael Hill, the company’s creative director. “They’re made in the Shetland Isles by people who love what they do.”
Ever since Drake’s expanded beyond their core line of ties and pocket squares, such collaborations have been an important part of their business. Belvest, where founder Michael Drake once work, makes the company’s sport coats in Italy. Blackhorse Lane Ateliers sews Drake’s jeans in London (those are the best jeans I’ve found to wear with sport coats). Last season, Drake’s also collaborated with the Japanese dyeing house Buaisou to produce a limited range of hand-dyed, indigo, cashmere-and-wool scarves.
This season, they’re continuing with new collabs. One of my favorites is the viscose-silk blend scarf you see above, which was made in Northern Italy. “It’s our take on the college scarf,” says Michael. “The fabric has a lot of texture, so you don’t have to be too precious with it. The more crumpled and disheveled it looks, the better.” Drake’s also went to India to get these cashmere scarves woven in classic madras patterns. The irregular fibers give the twill weave an unique texture. Michael tells me they’ll continue with that collaboration next spring, but with brighter colors and lighter weight yarns.
Far and away, the highlight for me is the outerwear, which has been made in England by a top-shelf producer. The dry-waxed field jacket comes with an inverted box pleat for more comfortable movement, as well as spacious bellow pockets for anything you might want to carry. The interior is cleverly finished with a split-lining – wool tartan at the top, then a stormproof synthetic at the bottom. Michael says this was done so your jacket stays dry when you sit down on the heather (or, perhaps more realistically, at the local bus stop bench). “The synthetic dries faster and ensures the wool lining won’t get dirty when you sit on something wet,” he says.
There’s also this stunning raglan-sleeved Balmacaan coat. It’s made from a hefty tweed woven at Lovat Mills (a first for Drake’s in terms of collaborations). “The fabric is so beautiful that we decided to just buggy line the interior with navy flannel,” Michael tells me. “It gives the coat a casual and relaxed feel, and was a way for us to celebrate the cloth. You can see the fabric on the outside and inside.”
For a company that has traditionally specialized in accessories to be worn with tailored clothing, readers will be surprised to see Drake’s debut a line of sneakers. They’re meant to be worn, however, with the other casual pieces Drake’s has introduced in the last year (jeans, most notably). These are made at a Japanese factory known for their kiln-baked soles – made much in the same way as how one might make pottery. The rubber soles come up a bit higher on the uppers, giving them a unique look and some added protection on rainy days. I like how well they fit with Drake’s classic, but fun aesthetic.
Of course, you can also find the things Drake’s does best – classic four-in-hand neckwear, beautifully designed pocket squares, as well as shirts and shirt jackets made in Drake’s newly-acquired Somerset factory. Michael is particularly proud of their shappe silk ties this season. “Shappe is a raw spun silk,” he explains. “These aren’t fibers that you’d normally use for silk ties; they’re the ends of the yarn. But they’ve been heavily re-spun, so they’ve become very soft to the touch. It’s a comfortable quality to wear.” Other notables include the exploded paisleys – a pattern traditionally reserved for scarves, but made wearable here thanks to the dark colors and subtle highlights – as well as neppy boucles and flecked Shantungs.
Readers in the United States will be excited to hear that Drake’s now has a USA site. “It only took us seven years,” Michael laughs. “The goal was to unify prices across our stores and retail partners, as well as offer a more convenient shopping experience.” Shipping to the US is now free on any order, although you have to click on the US specific URL to get access (Drake’s main page doesn’t automatically redirect you). With free shipping, I’m already tempted to order one of these lion motif pocket squares.
If you’re in or around New York City, you can see Drake’s fall collection at their new SoHo shop, located at No. 39 ½ Crosby Street. Jon Caramonica recently wrote some nice things about it in The New York Times’ Critical Shopper column.