In the best possible taste
Spiffing suits for town and preppy polo shirts for weekends in the country . KATHLEEN HARRISmeets Jeremy Hackett, the man behind the label
THE STEADY RAIN and goosebump-inducing temperatures encourage the spectators at this year’s Rundle Cup polo match in Tidworth in south-central England to leave the floral sundresses, Panama hats and pale buttoned-shirt-and-chinos pairings at home. Instead, dark quilted jackets, wellies and denim join the picnic baskets and blankets lining the playing field.
The dress code is smart casual, and if anyone displays a preference for smart, it is Jeremy Hackett, the British designer and founder of the menswear company Hackett London, a purveyor of quintessential British style and all the romantic town-and-country notions that come with it.
“I don’t know anything about fashion trends,” says Hackett, chairman of the company that brings the look of the archetypal English gent to stores all over the world, including a shop on Dublin’s South Anne Street, which, according to its manager Paul Sally, has enjoyed a healthy stream of regulars and shopping tourists since opening in late 2007.
Responding to the idea of trends with little more than an apathetic shrug has served the self-proclaimed “Mr Classic” well. He enjoys quality and timelessness, rather than the chasing of some slippery sartorial zeitgeist. And there’s always a market for timelessness.
Sheltered by a billowing white marquee on this drizzly summer afternoon, Hackett sits cross-legged beside a cup of tea with a cigar between his fingers, watching the annual match between the British army and navy that his company sponsors. He looks sharp in a khaki suit – “made by the Hackett tailor” of course – a powder blue shirt and a red, blue and white silk tie, held in place by a sprightly spaniel, a silver tie-clip no doubt inspired by his beloved Sussex spaniels, Charley and Browney.
He has come prepared to tackle the mucky grounds by tucking his trousers into a pair of Hunter wellies. And, as if it wasn’t all quite oh-so-British enough, a vintage pocket square, made in 1937 to celebrate the coronation, finishes off the look with a patriotic flourish.
“I thought it was a fitting choice,” he explains, “as we were attending the Jubilee Hackett Rundle Cup. I would have worn a Panama hat, but the weather was dreadful.”
Before Hackett saw his polo shirts on the likes of Princes William and Harry, he sold vintage suits to fashionable, class-conscious Brits who couldn’t quite afford Savile Row.
Hackett left school at 16, moved to London from his native Bristol and landed a job in menswear retail. It was there in 1979, trawling through the antique markets of Portobello Road, that he met fellow Savile Row salesman Ashley Lloyd-Jennings.