We’ve released a number of exclusive collaborations with Drake’s now, so to be constantly introducing readers to the brand feels somewhat counter-intuitive – the house’s reputation naturally precedes itself as one of the finest haberdashers on the planet after all. It also goes without saying that the brand has taken ownership over many great sartorial staples in recent seasons, whether glorious 50oz super-rep neckties, four-ply cashmere cardigans or most recently it’s sell-out line of contemporary brushed-cotton chinos. Perhaps one more piece than any other though in the Drake’s arsenal has become a sartorial calling-card for the house; the staple denim shirt.
If you haven’t tried a Drake’s shirt yet, you must. Hand cut and made in the company’s Somerset-based shirtmaking factory (a long-standing British workshop which Drake’s saved from closure some years ago), each and every shirt benefits from a rare set of traditional skills in its manufacture. Once it’s constituent parts have been hand-cut, a Drake’s shirt is lovingly stitched (single-needle stitching only) and pieced together bit by bit, with quality checks at each stage of the manufacturing process. Particularly special are Drake’s collars; they’re created using only the very lightest of brushed wool interlinings for comfort and softness – which lends a Drake’s shirt its signature voluptuous collar roll and unique easy-wearing character.
Speaking of which, the collar you see before you is even more special than normal. It is a new model, cut exclusively in The Rake’s favoured style – the tall cutaway spread. We’ve long championed this style as a magazine, thanks to its versatility, it’s strength of perspective and its modernity, but this is not a style that Drake’s has worked with as of yet, making for a particularly interesting experiment with the house, one that we hope you’ll agree has paid dividends. The strength of a cutaway collar (particularly on a tall stand made with the softness of roll that Drake’s achieves) is that it is easily worn in any context. Slip in your mother-of-pearl collar stiffeners and wear with a four-in-hand knotted tie for formalwear, or allow the collar to roll naturally open-necked for a more casual look.
Quite apart from the unique collar design, the denim chosen for this project is also rather special. Woven in one of Italy’s finest shirting mills in gloriously soft two-fold cotton and indigo dyed, it’s the perfect weight for denim shirting and washes-down beautifully – what is more, Drake’s have been using it for years and know exactly how to treat it for the best results. In fact, both the light and dark shirts you see before you are made-up in the same denim, the darker of which is completely raw and the lighter is gently bleached to achieve Drakes’ signature powder blue colour. The colours of both will gently soften over time (as the best denim does), but the raw indigo variant in particular is designed to wash-down dramatically, for a shirt that ages beautifully and that will eventually reach a similar shade to the powder blue.
And why choose denim for this particular project? Well, put simply, it is The Rake’s belief that the denim shirt is the single most versatile shirt available to the modern man – the denim shirt is the new white shirt. There is nothing more easy to wear, nor more easily dressed up or down in a modern context; it keeps a rakish three-piece suit grounded when paired with an earthy, textured tie (perhaps in shantung or grenadine) and accessories. At the other end of the spectrum, it sits beautifully under knitwear with dark jeans or chinos on the weekends and in between, it will compliment tailored separates cut in just about any cloth under the sun. Pair Drakes’ chosen denim with a strong cutaway collar, single cuffs and the house’s signature inverted military back-pleat and you have a garment which simply will not date, nor look out of place, no matter how you choose to wear it.
In these two shades of blue then, the Drake’s for The Rake Denim Shirts are the answer to a prayer, they are the ultimate go-anywhere do-anything shirts and every rakish man should consider adding a denim shirt like these to his wardrobe. If you haven’t already, we challenge you not to be impressed by their versatility and sophistication. What is more, it is a founding tenant of this magazine that there’s an undisputed beauty to how things of quality age, and these are garments that will take on their own unique personality as they are worn – they make for satisfying, sensible and yet rakish investments.