What are some of the items you’ve bought in the past that have proven outstanding purchases, from a
I have a few things that fit the criteria. Brown suede shoes: I wear them more than anything else. They are softer
than calf, very versatile and require relatively little maintenance. White buttondown collar shirts: Particularly my
Drake’s and Ascot Chang ones. I like the look with tailored clothing but I wear them on their own frequently as
well. A navy cashmere blazer: It looks great and it is fantastically useful in the winter, often being warm enough
to save you carrying an overcoat.
How does The Armoury’s philosophy dovetail with the principles of sustainability?
In general, the attitude for buying tailored clothing is to buy less, buy better and buy items that get better with
age. A tailored jacket, fully canvassed and well made, will last a long time. The canvas helps the jacket conform to
your body in a flattering way to your body. If ever your body stops conforming to the jacket because you gained or
lost too much weight, you can always alter it to fit as well. The same would apply for good tailored trousers. It’s
so easy to revive a tailored garment with just some careful alterations.
With Drop93, which is the sale outlet / pre-owned clothing arm of The Armoury, we deal with The Armoury’s customers’
pre-owned garments. When a customer decides he no longer needs a garment, he can come to us. These garments are
often bespoke items, made with care for their original owners, and the owner would like us to find these items a new
home. When we take these items in, they go through a thorough cataloging process. We inspect every item, measure
each item carefully and provide a condition report and clear photographs so that whoever is interested in buying
them can buy them with confidence.
For me, the crucial thing is to make people realise the value of their clothing, something that I think is
increasingly lost with the easy availability of cheap clothes. People only 100 years ago used to treat clothing as
heirloom items. Good clothing required a significant part of your income and was expected to be useful for a long
time, which I think is a beautiful approach. Witness the fine camphor chests that the Chinese used to use to store
their off-season clothing. These were magnificent pieces of craftsmanship and they were used to store clothing which
was perceived to be even more valuable still.
Having worked in this industry for nearly 10 years now and knowing what sort of effort goes into making a garment, I
want people to see that good clothing is not a cheap commodity but is human effort manifest and has real value.
What would you say is the most important lesson you’ve ever learnt from a family member or a
People are inherently fallible. Almost laughably so. Our intuition takes over far more often than we realise and our
logic is far lazier than we are ready to admit. As I came to understand that about myself and everyone else, life
became a little easier. Knowing how imperfect you are makes admitting to your faults much easier. Knowing how
imperfect everyone else is makes it much easier to forgive people around you. Added together, it sets better
expectations for your life and helps you build better relationships.
I didn’t learn that from a family member or a mentor. I learnt it from Daniel Kahneman’s book: “Thinking Fast, Slow”,
one of the most important books in the field of behavioural economics: a mix of psychology, statistics and
Reflecting your background, your business is very international. How have you gone about building a brand
that appeals equally to customers in the UK, US and Asia, each of which have their distinct cultural
The UK, US and Asia are indeed distinct places but The Armoury and Drop93 are quite niche businesses. We appeal to
customers that all share a fundamental love for design, quality, detail and classic style.
The Armoury is a little different from most stores in that myself, Alan See, my co-founder, and the buyers of the
stores are also all salespeople at the shop. As a result, we are very close to our customers. They are our friends
and their tastes inform ours as much as we inform theirs. When we are creating new products or sourcing products
from other places, we buy as if buying for ourselves and also for our friends who we think will enjoy these
What critieria do you use to choose the brands you work with?
As I say, we make our selections based on our own tastes as well as the tastes of our customers. We have a strong
preference for things that are small production, have large handmade components and have a strong, authentic
identity. We typically try to buy products from the brands we are interested in, being a regular retail customer of
theirs first before eventually stocking them in the store and working with them further. We also try and work with
brands that are open to further collaboration so we can develop new and interesting exclusive products that combine
both their expertise and ours.
Finally, why have you decided to collaborate with The Rake Values?
The Rake Values has both great reach and great variety. I think they put together interesting selections with
compelling presentations. They understand that there are people out there who love great clothes but can’t normally
justify paying full price. Thus, they are the perfect partner to help put The Armoury and Drop93’s offerings in
front of new, interesting and interested customers.