For many, Drake’s are known as one of the finest suit-makers in England. Over the past few seasons, however, they’ve sought to change that perception into something broader. Recent collections have had a more youthful vigour than longtime followers of the brand are used to, and have focussed more on community, customer engagement and wider brand building outside of formalwear.
Let’s start with their ‘Perennials’ collection - first introduced in FW20, with a campaign modelled by former PAQ front man, Danny Lomas. Amongst younger audiences, Lomas is an instantly recognisable figure and one that gives the brand tastemaker credibility. The collection was stripped back from the usual tropes of British formalwear and focused more on wearable pieces with informal cuts. It’s an elevated essentials collection with an emphasis on quality. The clearest example of this is with their classic Hiking T-Shirt. Tees are always a hotly debated topic of quality vs price and at £75 these are at the higher end of the spectrum - but the price reflects the quality. Compared to the popular Sunspel Classic white tee, which is roughly the same price, the difference in quality is immeasurable. Despite their great reputation, I have always found the Sunspel too thin for what you pay for, and a 5 pack of Gildan will do exactly the same job at a fraction of the price. Where Drake’s get it right is that you can feel the quality before you even put it on - the material is thick, well-cut, and versatile. You can pair it with almost anything in your wardrobe.
Drake’s have also expanded their denim range - or at least given far more focus than in prior years. At £275 a pair, they are once again very pricey but you’re buying into the brand image, as well as the unspoken promise of great quality and long-lasting products. They are certainly on par with the similarly priced Japanese denim on show at stores such as Clutch Cafe, pioneers of expensive denim and obscure brands only your friend that spends all day on yahoo.jp knows about. Aside from the jeans, Drake’s are placing the spotlight on the 5 pocket Chore Coat, an inherently casual silhouette that can be dressed up when needed. Both of these products are offered in a variety of washes and cuts, an example of the brands move to catering to a wider audience than their former ‘banker on his day off’ style.
Drake’s presence on socials has certainly grown since the start of 2020. They have collaborated with influential media figures such as Lawrence Schlossman from the Throwing Fits podcast. Throwing Fits has a far younger demographic than the brand is famed for targeting and Drake’s were rewarded with a deluge of new, excited followers. Another example of their intelligent collaborations is their seasonal suiting with New Yorkers Aime Leon Dore. ALD is generally seen as expensive prep for celebrities and for people with access to the Bank of Dad, yet their cookbooks are some of the best in the game, and alongside fellow NYC streetwear/prep brand Noah, they lead a legion of impressionable customers that are straddling the banks of high and low-end fashion. In collaborating with one of the most well known brands of New York’s fashion scene, Drake’s are increasingly exposing themselves to younger generations of fashion conscious consumers.
Of course, there remains a major issue with Drake’s strategy. The price. If they are trying to emulate that classic Ralph Lauren, multi-layered brand with fans of all different shapes and sizes, then they need a more accessible price point, at least on entry level pieces such as the Hiking tee. There is a danger that the brand will price out those younger consumers before they’ve even had a chance to get on the ladder, or simply lose interest as more affordable options come to the forefront. I used to live a few minutes walk from the Drake’s factory store, and on my last visit in 2019, there seemed to be a gutting of the brand as it was known. All pieces were very formal, and wouldn’t be out of place on a grouse hunt, or worn by a catatonic Prince Philip as he’s wheeled out for yet another public appearance. These were the end times for Drake’s as it once was - yet they were still asking a term’s student loan for a handkerchief. Drake’s is, and always has been, an aspirational brand. With an ever increasing audience birthed from streetwear-affiliated tastes, it is important that Drake’s have prices that match their more cosmopolitan brand vision, otherwise this carefully crafted reinvention will be for nothing.