Having recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, Drake’s reveals the secret to producing the perfect tie
Ties are in. At least, it seems that way, judging by the success of Drake’s. Founded four decades ago by Michael Drake, the haberdasher started out making scarves and shawls for boutiques and tailors. It was when Drake decided to widen his remit to ties and pocket squares that the brand really took off.
In 2010, after more than a decade working closely with Drake, Michael Hill, designer at Drake’s, and Mark Cho, founder of Hong Kong menswear retailer The Armoury, took over the company, with Hill becoming creative director. Since then, Drake’s has become much more than an accessories producer, with its own seasonal collections and recognisable aesthetic.
In April 2013, Drake’s moved its tie factory to No. 3 Haberdasher Street, a road surely impossible to beat in terms of suitability. Before moving there, from previous premises in Garrett Street, the company’s warehouse and offices were in separate buildings to the factory itself. Today, orders come in downstairs and are relayed immediately up the exposed-brick staircase to the factory floor. The design studio opens out onto the rows of expert manufacturers, meaning any last-minute changes are only a shout away. On the left-hand side of the factory is the archive wall; thousands of samples of varying fabrics, in every colour and texture under the sun.
Each tie is made by hand. During our visit, there were only two sewing machines in sight. The tie-making process is the same as it’s always been, some of Drake’s staff having worked there for 30 years. Times change, but attention to detail is something that will stick around at Drake’s for as long as people wear ties.
How to make a Drake's tie:
Manually check each roll of cloth for any inconsistencies. It takes time, but better to iron out flaws now than have to deal with them further down the line. Lay out the cloth for cutting, with the pattern at 45 degrees – known as cutting on the bias.
Once cut, join the blade, neck and tail of the tie together and insert the tipping – the fabric covering the exposed back of the tie. Make sure the point is perfect, as it’s liable to open up.
Next is the slipping stage, where the fabric is folded around the interlining. Interlining creates and maintains the structural integrity of a tie. Once folded, a single piece of thread is hand-stitched underneath the folds, giving the tie the ability to recover its shape.
Steam and press the tip to give it shape, hand-stitch loops and labels, and complete one last quality control check. The whole process takes hours and includes the work of 20 people. Good things come to those who wait.