Michael Hill, Creative Director of Drake's of London
We recently caught up with Michael Hill of Drake’s of London. Crane Brothers have been exclusive stockists of Drake’s of London for several years now, and the tie and accessory specialists never disappoint. Their distinctive prints, use of texture and impeccable construction have brought them a dedicated following with tie aficionados in New Zealand and the world over.
BSG: First of all, why wear a tie?
MH: It’s a question more of our clients are asking as the business environment changes.
Even more of a reason to wear a tie! This doesn't mean the tie necessarily has to be very formal, it could be softer and more casual, in keeping with today's more relaxed business attire. It's about feeling comfortable but also the impression you're giving off and a tie will only help in that regard.
BSG: At a pure construction level, what should a gentleman look for in a good tie?
MH: It all starts with the cloth itself and in this regard we're always looking at how we can make it better not how we can make it cheaper. And a good construction will celebrate a beautiful cloth. A hand made tie that is sewn (or slipped as we say) together by hand by a skilled craftsperson gauging the appropriate tension required in the make results in a tie that feels well balanced and made-in-the-round, as opposed to something flat and listless.
BSG: Drake’s use a dye-and-discharge method for printing your ties. Can you explain how the process works?
MH: Rather than printing all the required colours directly onto white cloth at the same time we first dye the base cloth and then one by one apply the motif and pip colours, by hand, by two printers working in tandem to apply each colour individually with equal pressure.
BSG: What is the benefit of using this method?
MH: The process is slower and far more labour intensive but the resulting cloth has far greater depth and lustre with greater colour penetration of the cloth.
Interview: Ben St George
“We're living and working in the present and as such are always keen to be create something fresh.”
BSG: Drake’s is famous for it’s strong aesthetic, anchored around its use of heritage prints. What do you consider when creating new designs?
MH: We often start from the archives and much of what we do is founded on old fashioned standards of production and manufacturing. However we're living and working in the present and as such are always keen to be create something fresh. Whilst the design work itself is very detailed, and we're dedicated to creating beautiful ties, we are always mindful of the overall look and sensibility.
BSG: For the gentleman who is just beginning to assemble his wardrobe, can you provide some advice on colour or pattern matching?
MH: Colour is of course very important but also consider texture, particularly when balancing jacket, shirt and tie. And whilst navy is always a great starting point I feel it's important not to be overly rigid in ones initial approach. You have to find what works for you and that often starts with some trial and error. It is about looking the part but dressing should also be enjoyable. Ultimately you're likely to pair it back to what works for you and that is going to ensure you look well dressed without you're look being overly thought out.
BSG: Drake’s is employing more and more soft construction in their neckwear. What’s the benefit and what kind of client is purchasing these ties?
MH: It feels right for today. Likewise we use a very soft brushed hand lined collar lining in our shirts and a very soft construction with our jackets. It's a look rooted in classic formal dressing but softened for a more comfortable sensibility.
BSG: What is your favorite Drake’s Tie?
MH: Currently a 36oz print recoloured from an original Ancient Madder design we first did nearly forty years ago. It's a beautiful design in itself as well as being incredibly versatile to wear. It's one that travels the world and never looks out of place.