Hubert Burda Media

The Decisive Moment

The time for British menswear to take centre stage is now, if you ask Jeremy Hackett.

The Decisive Moment

“The navy blue blazer is for men what the little black dress is for ladies.”
Five minutes into my conversation with Jeremy Hackett, and fashion bon mots come at me in rapid succession.
“A gentleman is rarely adventurous,” he goes on. “He prefers to buy the same stuff but with little tweaks here and there — a new jacket in the same cut but in a different colour. Whereas with ladies, it's always: ‘What's new?'”
Famed for his tailored suits, sartorial observations and perfectly nuanced Queen's English, Hackett is the very model of the English gent: Cultured, with an unassuming air. In town for the launch of the first Hackett London boutique in Singapore, the chairman, designer and co-founder of his 30-year-old label has built a brand that prides itself as a one-stop shop for the modern, well-groomed man — selling and designing everything from shirts to cufflinks, boxer shorts and even chukka boots.
“Men are becoming more fashion-conscious and at the forefront of it all is the classic look. Suits and shirts with proper collars and well-cut pants; it's all about looking polished,” he says, adjusting his own pocket square (perhaps) for effect.
“In my opinion, the moment is right for British fashion. The Italians and French have had their share of the spotlight. The British are coming.”
His pronouncement is arguably justified — just look at Hackett London's phenomenal growth. Set up in partnership with fellow clothier Ashley Lloyd-Jennings, the brand has added 63 boutiques to its worldwide stable in the last three decades. Its London flagship store on Sloane Street also houses a barbershop and a bespoke tailor.
At 30, the brand is by no means young, yet it's often thought of as a heritage brand with legacy and tradition on par with the likes of Brooks Brothers (96 years) or even Norton & Sons (193 years). “When I talk to people, they always presume that my father or grandfather started the business. Hackett London has that feeling of always having been around,” Hackett notes.
Authenticity is key to the brand's success, he says. By involving the company in numerous sponsorship roles — such as the Aston Martin Racing team, the British Army Polo team and the London Rowing Club — people have been able to witness the brand's outreach, credibility and influence. Apart from sports, Hackett London was also the official menswear stylist for the EE British Academy Film Awards in 2012.
Outside of Europe, there are big plans for the label's further expansion in Asia and the Middle East. Stores have recently opened in Dubai, Qatar, Beijing and Shanghai, with more planned for Thailand and Indonesia. A second store for Singapore is also in the pipeline. Asia, he observes, has an appreciation for fine fashion. “Which is marvellous for us!” he says.
Born in Devizes, Wiltshire, Hackett loved clothes from an early age as his father worked in a textile business. His first brush with fashion, though, was a weekend stint in a Bristol tailor's shop before moving to London at age 18 to work for menswear chain Village Gate and later John Michael in Savile Row. It was another five years before he set up Hackett with Lloyd-Jennings.
Aside from attending to customers at his shops and serving as his own brand ambassador at events held around the globe, Hackett dabbles in interior design (his South London home is often featured in living and design magazines) and regularly dishes out style tips on his website (jeremyhackett.com), responding also to style queries on the brand's Ask Jeremy online portal.
Hackett has also indulged in his passion for writing and photography, publishing his book Mr Classic in 2008 to great acclaim. The 200-page volume brims with Hackett's observations and anecdotes, discussing everything from well-polished brogues to how one should dress for a shooting party. Sumptuous photos of polo competitions, bow ties and Sussex spaniels (he has one named Browney) also pepper the tome.
But it is not only about fashion and design with the gent — he shares what's perhaps the most important tip of all: “It doesn't matter how well-dressed you are if you don't have any manners.”
Agreed.
Hackett London Singapore,
#B2-230, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands