In the region for the recent opening of his eponymous ‘Hackett’ store in Dubai, Men’s Passion grabbed the opportunity to speak with the man behind the brand - Jeremy Hackett.
Simon Balsom:You left school at 17, and started your life in the fashion world then. Moving from working for a retailer, to Savile Row, and then on to selling second-hand clothes before producing classically-styled clothes with-a-twist-was this ever part of a plan or ambition to have your own brand?
Jeremy Hackett: I would like to be able to say that it was all part of a master plan, but what started off as a bit of fun and a way to earn some cash, slowly evolved into Hackett. It took a couple of years to realise that maybe we were on to something. When I started Hackett I wanted clothes for myself and so the brand was initially built for my own requirements fortunately my customers shared the same needs but today my personal lifestyle is a little more modest than the one we project but it’s nice to dream.
SB: Hackett links itself with many iconically British events and much of our heritage. Do you see yourself selling British lifestyle as much, if not more than, British style?
JH: Because in England we have so many social occasions which demand a certain dress code whether it is going to the country, getting married, attending a formal dinner or even going to work and this has been the basis for English style which has been adopted the world over. The Englishman, on the whole, shops when he needs clothes rather than just wanting them on a whim and he expects them to be of good quality and purposeful. He likes to dress but not be overdressed and mild eccentricity is a trait of English style. So actually we are as much about reflecting the style as we are the lifestyle. Because Britain has such a wealth of heritage to draw on it makes sense to link it to British style and being associated with polo, rowing, tennis, and Aston Martin Racing all add an aspirational quality to the brand. It also allows us to design product around these events which helps to give Hackett a real sense of authenticity and makes British style glamourous.
SB: At Hackett I know it’s all about the detail. The styling details we can see. Can you tell us a little about the attention that is paid to sourcing the fabrics, and even the interest you have shown in the source of the unspun wool.
JH: One of the joys for me is buying fabric. I love going to the mills because cloth is tactile and touch is very important to me. To maintain our British heritage I source material from Scotland where we have exclusive tweeds made, tweeds for which we are famous. I buy flannel from Fox Bros whose cloth is world famous and made at the oldest mill in England. For our extremely lightweight cloth I look to Italy who in turn looks to Britain for the inspiration and design of the cloth.
SB: The ownership of the brand first by Richemont and later by Pepe London. This must have involved you ‘selling-out’ some of your individuality and creativity in order to maximize profits. How do you see yourself today – businessman or tailor?
JH: Neither, I am more of a stylist. I enjoy putting things together, but keep me away from the balance sheet. In fact rather than selling out, being part of Pepe has allowed me to be more creative without worrying about paying the bills.
SB: What new lines or product areas do you see bringing us over the next few seasons?
JH: We have been in the Middle East for a while and because of our initial success it has led us to open our first shop in Dubai and two stores in Kuwait. We have plans to open ten stores over the next four years in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi and Beirut. When putting together our collections we are mindful that in the Middle East we need to make product that fits with the climate so our clothing will be lightweight and our tailoring will be soft and refined. Because Hackett is a classic brand it is about evolving the product so each season there is a subtle shift but also with a few surprises, next season promises to be very colourful.
Hackett stores are located in Kuwait at The Avenues and 360 Mall, and in Dubai at Dubai Mall as well as in exclusive locations worldwide.
First Published in Men's Passion Issue #36 December 2011-January 2012