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INTERVIEW

Designer | Hackett London

Originating from humble beginnings, Hackett London was founded by Jeremy Hackett and his business partner Ashley Lloyd Jennings, after a chance meeting at London's Portobello Market in 1979. Both working as tailors on London's prestigious Saville Row, their shared love of fine quality second hand clothing led to them renting their own stall at Portobello Road, later opening a store on the fashionable Kings Road, Chelsea.

Inevitably, its success dictated that the supply of second hand goods could not keep up with demand and in 1985 they began to manufacture from new, building on their heritage of classic English style and quality tailoring. From there, the brand - as quintessentially British as its bowler hat and umbrella logo - was born. From the origins of his iconic polo shirts, to his self-styled moniker, we were honoured to chat with Jeremy Hackett to learn more about Mr Classic himself. 

19 Sep 2019

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You originally started out buying and selling vintage clothing purchased from markets in London. Is rummaging through rails and finding vintage gems still a passion of yours?
Yes, I still enjoy hunting out second hand clothes, sorry vintage as it is now called. I can't resist popping into a charity shop or a jumble sale on the off chance there may be something really special that has been overlooked, it's the thrill of the chase. I remember a while ago returning to Portobello Road, although not at 5am as I used to, and I was looking through a rail of old tweed jackets and spotted one that looked familiar but was more expensive than any of the others, so I asked the stall holder why and she replied "It is Hackett you know!"

You’re known for giving out style advice. What are your fashion ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’?
Always wear a self tie bow tie and wear long socks with a suit. Your cufflinks should match your watch, your belt should match your shoes and wear studs with your dress shirt. Avoid novelty socks and ties, don't wear braces and a belt together, don't go sockless when wearing proper shoes, despite it being a fashion moment. Don't wear trousers that appear to have been sprayed on. Don't try to dress in younger fashions, as it usually ends up making you look older. Dressing well is about owning your clothes not merely putting them on. 

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The iconic Hackett polo shirt is continually a big seller, what do you think the secret to its success is?
We first introduced the Hackett polo shirt in 1987 when two British Army officers came into the shop and asked if we would sponsor their polo team as their commanding officer had said if they want to play polo then to find a sponsor because the army wouldn't pay for their sport. For a nominal sum we took up the sponsorship, which meant we had to provide the team with shirts. At the time I was a little reticent to emblazon my name on a polo shirt, however my reticence was short lived as it became a huge seller and remains so today. I believe its success is down to the fact that it was an authentic item and the shirts were worn in the right context, giving it the status of authenticity and integrity.

 
You have a long-standing partnership with Aston Martin Racing and feature some pieces in your boyswear collection, how did this partnership come about and what makes the two brands a perfect match?
Our relationship with Aston Martin happened purely by chance. One day I was in our Sloane Street shop and a customer who turned out to be an Aston Martin Racing director said "Why don't we do something together?". Well I didn't need to be asked twice - who wouldn't wish to be associated with the most famous British brand in the world (apart from Hackett, naturally!). It was the beginning of a long and very successful partnership and continues to this day. An added bonus is they frequently lend me the latest model.

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Outside of the ‘Hackett’ world, what do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy photography and take pictures all the time. My Sussex Spaniels Muffin and Harry get me out of the house, so I enjoy long walks with them. They are big stars on Instagram and I have recently made a children's sweater featuring Harry. Dinner parties at home with friends is a regular occurrence and thankfully none of them are in fashion.

Who or what inspires you?
Inspiration comes from all sources as you can imagine. Vintage clothes always help, I may see something in a movie or a picture in a gallery or it may be simply someone on the street. I was once told if you are seeking inspiration just go to a restaurant and people watch, advice I have readily taken to heart. In fact, as soon as I have finished this piece I am off to lunch at J Sheekey, so who knows what may turn up. From opening your first shop to sponsoring the England rugby team and writing your book, 'Mr Classic', you’ve achieved so much in your career.

What has been your proudest moment?

It's curious - most people imagine it was starting Hackett and having my name over the door, although I have to admit it did give me a buzz. I think though that starting to write and be published by Thames & Hudson was a real highlight. Having failed my English language and literature exams, writing was the last thing I believed I was capable of. When I was asked to write a story about fashion for The Independent newspaper's The Sunday Review, I was pretty apprehensive. I sent in five short stories for their reaction and to my surprise, they printed them all and then offered me a column titled 'Mr Classic' which ran for about three years and resulted in the 'Mr Classic' book. I have recently published a new version in Japan and for next spring, we are introducing a new clothing line named the same. Today, I am as likely to be called 'Mr Classic' as 'Mr Hackett'.

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