Drake’s, the classic English menswear brand, pens itself as being under the guiding philosophy of “relaxed elegance”. Originally opening in 1977 in East London, Drake’s is still to this day arguably best known for its neckwear, and despite a clear Italian influence when it comes to their tailoring, houses an array of pieces that would pair handsomely with any Ivy-inspired wardrobe.
Drake’s recently released another of its well-regarded lookbooks, this one showcasing Collection Three, 2020. Shot by John Sprinks and modeled by Jason Jules (who this author thinks possesses an almost-supernatural stylishness), the looks largely ride the line Ivy aficionados favor of their own obsession: a go-anywhere, do-anything, dress-upable and -downable, casual stylishness. Anything but black tie, really. It’s an effortless look that is more casual than those you’re surrounded by, and yet somehow “better dressed.” Perhaps the branding team at Drake’s did hit the nail on the head with relaxed elegance, after all.
The collection exudes rugged Ivy, with its copious use of ripstop — a type of woven fabric designed to be more resistant to tearing or ripping; useful for outdoor activities or in military settings — and a good portion of Mr Jules’ looks being modeled in what looks like classic English countryside. The blazers push the limits of casual, so much so that when Mr Jules switches to a jungle jacket, the brain takes a moment to realize that they are different. Jeans are also plentifully used throughout the lookbook, though they only serve to ease the outfits into a renewed area of casual (helped by them being the traditional indigo dyed, straight cut variety – “dad jeans”, as it were, though not just ironically fashionable), rather than offensively replacing the Ivy fan’s preferred pant, chinos. And the shoes are so perfectly apt – suede, moc-toed chukka boots. If rugged Ivy were to have an official, all-terrain shoe, this author would nominate these, which could only be an outcast in the most sweltering of summers or most formal of soirées.
The other stand out “theme”, if you will, from this collection is a sense of holiday. Though not shot against a New England backdrop, some of the pieces worn by Mr Jules wouldn’t at all feel out of place worn to a traditionally preppy holiday destination, or perhaps the local country club. In particular, the standout pieces that shout “holiday perfection” are the cashmere intarsia golf jumper, the multi-stripe OCBD, and the ‘fun’ OCBD. A little bit of madras is also thrown into the shirting lineup, for good measure.
The cream of the crop, however – the cherry that definitively marks this lookbook as an Ivy sundae, and the detail from which this article gets its name – is the ball caps, headlining the lookbook in light blue needlecord. In fact, an array of ball caps feature, all six-paneled, all in the delightfully subtle needlecord texture, in prep-appropriate colors (bright yellow, mint green, and a nicely saturated salmon), and featuring retro embroidery in the shape of crossed tennis racquets. There’s such a powerful preppy pull to these caps that they turn even the most borderline of Mr Jules’ outfits – such as a jungle jacket layered on jeans – into modern Ivy staples. Just like how one can add granules to water and get instant coffee, one can add these caps to an outfit and get instant Ivy.
Tradition is great, but reinvention keeps us alive. And under creative director Michael Hill, Drake’s is reinventing Ivy for the modern man, through a delightfully idiosyncratic lens – one that churns together a little England, a little Scotland, and a little Italy, and somehow creates something that wouldn’t at all look out of place in the wardrobe of an Ivy enthusiast in America today. — BRAD EWIN
Brad Ewin is an Australian-born and London-based writer who, despite his best efforts, can’t help but keep coming back to everything preppy.