Drake's, purveyors of some of the world's best ties and scarves, has set up shop in America.
It takes a lot of style to turn an old sandwich shop into a bona fide menswear store. Luckily, the guys behind Drake's are incredibly stylish.
The London-based brand that's known around the world for its scarves and ties quietly opened a temporary store in New York City this weekend, their first-ever USA outpost. (It'll be in town for at least six months, possibly longer if the sales are good.) People used to line up outside of the space, at 120 Prince Street, to buy the daily special from local favorite Olive's.
"Happily, we haven't thrown them out," said the brand's creative director Michael Hill when GQ visited last week. Their new location is at 191 Prince Street, which means fans of the infamous Thursday sandwich—avocado, cheddar, and bean sprouts on whole wheat—can still find it just a few blocks away. "I've noticed one of our colleagues has been heading out there for lunch every day.”
Because the new Drake's space is temporary—and because it used to deal in sandwiches and not suits—it doesn't feel exactly like your average high-end shop. The tiles on the floor and on the ceiling are both original to the space, but they're accented by an eclectic mix of furnishings. An antique table featuring a selection of ties dominates the room. One wall features a modular shelving unit that has space to stack sweaters and racks to hang jackets, and a long, upholstered bench that's perfect for trying on shoes lines a bay window just next to the door.
Drakes offers a full suite of men's clothing (in an untraditional move for natty English menswear brands, it just started selling jeans), but its core business is in neckwear. Hill was attracted to New York when he noticed just as many of his online orders were getting shipped to the Big Apple as they were to guys in London. So why open a store in a trendy downtown neighborhood at a time when fashion-focused guys seem to be buying more athletic gear and fewer suits?
"Our tie factory is busier than it's ever been," Hill said. "We all see what's happening globally in terms of how men dress. The world is more casual. But for guys who want to dress up and have that expression once a week, once a month, whatever it is, I think the tie still very much has a place.”
And, at least for the next few months, that place will confidently situated a stones throw away from the SoHo outposts of Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton, J.Crew, and APC. Which, if you ask us, are the best sorts of neighbors you can have.