Distinctively British Featured

Luxos interviews Jeremy Hackett, founder of Hackett, the brand synonymous with elegance and classic tailoring across the world.
by 12 May 2010

It all began about 30 years ago, when Jeremy Hackett’s passion for elegant menswear led him to open a second-hand gentlemen’s outfitters in London that sold attire for hunting, fishing and special occasions. What made the store special was not only the choice of products, but also the way in which they were put together with the “je ne sais quoi” that is the essence of style. In 1985, Jeremy Hackett formed a partnership with Ashley Lloyd-Jennings and the two transformed their vision of menswear into a line of clothing with a precise identity: British sartorial flair for a new formalwear that marries attention to detail with freedom of thought. We asked Mr. Hackett to tell us about the milestones of this exemplary enterprise, whose mission is to enhance the sacred rules of style.

Mr. Hackett, what are the cult proposals that encapsulate the uniqueness of Hackett?
Our “Made in Scotland” tweeds captured the market’s attention in such a big way that the answer to the question “Where can I find a good tweed?” became “at Hackett’s”. We purvey business suits, dinner jackets and everything else in the formalwear universe, accompanying gentlemen of all ages who want to dress well but for whom quality is more important than fashion throughout the day.

Can you sum up Hackett’s philosophy?
We don’t make clothes “for just anyone”; ours are classic outfits, well made and well assembled without costing an absolute fortune. One of our navy blue blazers will last for several years, transcending fashions, so we might say that our clothes are for people who love continuity.

Who is the ideal person for your look?
We immediately gained an excellent reputation amongst professionals, those who work in investment and banking. People who were perhaps too young for a tailored suit but who were looking for sartorial style in a ready made.

Who would you pick as a model of style from the star system?
Unquestionably, the actor Dirk Bogarde. He lived in Chelsea, near our store, and was a true gentlemen of the old school, never stressed, always well mannered and who dressed like a gentleman.

How has your vision of style changed over the years?
In its 25 years of history, Hackett has never undergone sudden changes, it’s a process, a journey. If I look back, from season to season, I almost don’t realise the changes: a jacket goes from two to three buttons, a fabric becomes lighter, the proportions change slightly. But after ten years, you realise that changes have been made and substantial ones at that. Generally, everything is much more lightweight now, less structured, still tailored but not as severely.
 

You write a much-loved column for the British newspaper, the Independent on Sunday, in which you call yourself “Mr. Classic” in direct opposition to “Mr. Cool”. What does elegance mean to “Mr. Classic”?
Elegance is simplicity, a man must always feel comfortable in what he wears. To dress yourself up is not elegant. Also, it is not necessarily important to dress in new clothes, in fact, “too new” is not at all chic.

What is luxury?
Luxury is a highly abused word. In my opinion, luxury is everything that is not immediately obtainable, that is not too readily available. Luxury must be a rarity. You can make everything expensive but if it’s not rare then it will never be a luxury, like a made-to-measure suit or a handcrafted piece of luggage.

Staying in the luxury sphere, can you tell us a little about your cooperation with Aston Martin?
The Aston Martin Racing Team collection has garnered significant success. The idea came from the fact that the Aston Martin was a great iconic car of the 1950s and 1960s, so we proposed highly fitted outfits in Steve McQueen style, which recalled the atmosphere of those years. Of course, we are the team sponsors, as we are also sponsors for many other sports teams, associations or events in the polo and rugby arenas, which count among English high society’s most loved sports.

Trivia 1
Four good reasons to wear classic according to Jeremy Hackett:
Classic is cool
You can wear the outfits season in, season out
You spend less to get more
You don’t have to follow the trends

Trivia 2
What inspires Mr. Classic:
Travelling
: When I go to Japan, I love to see how the people there mix British outfits and other elements in a fun and playful way.
An accessory: A Harrington hat
A style must-have: The navy blue blazer.
A holiday: The Scilly Isles on the southwestern coast of England, a beautiful place because it is old-fashioned.
Spending the weekend: In the Somerset countryside with my dogs Charley and Browney.

Photography by Hackett.

Related articles:
Bespoke, a London approach to quality garments
Epitome of Traditional Tailoring
The Tuxedo

For a list of Hackett boutiques, click here.