For a new season of menswear in a post-lockdown world, The Rake's team gave itself an urgent challenge to create a collection that would embody comfort as well as a renewed hunger for fit and cut, whilst retaining an ethical and sustainable approach to quality and price. The result — typified by a pioneering ready-to-wear jacket — is our proudest achievement yet.
Over the past year, like everyone reading this, I’ve done a lot of imagining. I have imagined the places I’ll visit and the friends I’ll hug and share laughter and meals with. When I think about these things happening perhaps even in late summer, I feel an ineffable happiness, a sense of palpable joy and a rush of renewed hope. When I close my eyes, I imagine the future and can almost feel I am there. I wanted our new collection to reflect the casualisation we have experienced but, at the same time, signal a reignited excitement over perfect cut and fit. I wanted our tailoring to be perfect for a walk on the beach with the pants rolled to your calves and your feet in the sand. I wanted our tailoring to make you always feel at ease but elegant, understated but empowered. I wanted you to always feel like the coolest guy in the room. I wanted them to be pure, elemental, authentic and essential. But also, and importantly, economically attainable. We have worked hard to price these jackets in a way that allows everyone the ability to purchase the collection, whilst retaining the quality and appeal of the Made In Italy artisanship. The jackets, therefore, are available at under $USD 600, and our beautiful trousers at under $USD 200. Please note: as this is a MTO collection, the buying window is open from now until Wednesday 7th April, 2021. Video by Marcus Ebanks
Learning from our incredible 'Lorenzo Cifonelli for The Rake' collaboration with Lorenzo, the Cifonelli team and sui generis fabric makers Loro Piana, this time our team didn’t start with design. Instead we focused on how the clothes would make you feel. Cifonelli explained: “You want to imagine the emotions your client has when he slips on the Rake jacket for the first time.” I replied, “I want him to feel comforted and liberated at the same time”. Cifonelli: “Then you need to go back to your factory and work on the construction over and over until they achieve this.” As such, we started from scratch with the objective of making a structure for our jackets that conveyed the same feeling as for a shirt. We steadily removed layers of lining and padding until we were left with the bare minimum. During this process we realised that even if we wanted absolute comfort and unrestricted movement, we also wanted style and amazing fit. Over the phone I explained to Lorenzo: “I want the feeling of a jacket that feels like a casual shirt, but when you look in the mirror there has to be an immediate reaction, where you say, ‘Goddamn, I look sexy’.” Cifonelli laughed and said, “Now you need to work on the fit and design. While this sounds simple, it really is not. Don’t forget that if your objective is for men to look primal, virile or, as you say, sexy, every detail — the shape of the peak, the angle of the gorge, the position and shape of the chest pocket, the shoulder construction, the placement of pockets, the length of the pleats, the shape of the chest, the line created by the side seam — has to be considered. Not only do each of these have to be optimised, they also have to all work harmoniously with each other. Just one element that is out of place and the harmony is destroyed.”
So began a slavish process, as The Rake’s team scrutinised and obsessed over each detail. For our single-breasted jacket which is priced at just under $USD 500, we wanted something fitted to the body with a beautiful shape, regardless of whether you wear it closed or open. It meant the shape of the front quarters of the coat had to come to a dramatic cynosure, then flare away by just the right amount. Tom Chamberlin, The Rake’s Editor, says: “The shape of the front quarters was critical. Too much open and the jacket would be gauche; too little and it would feel constipated. We were dressing neither gigolos or tax accountants but rakes.” Next, we had to focus on a slim shape, but one that would still conform to even a fuller chest. Alain Gafundi, The Rake’s Chief Executive, says: “As someone who has a full chest, one of the things I hate is when you have a slim-cut jacket and, as you move, the chest gapes away from the shirt. This was a vulgarity we could not accept.” Drew Laidlaw Hoare, The Rake’s Managing Director, adds: “For me, the fit at the back-neck was critical. There is nothing worse than a jacket where the back-neck stands away from the collar, and as a slimmer guy sometimes this happens. So we worked incessantly to get it so the back-collar never moved, even when you were in motion. We loved the story of Fred Astaire dancing in front of the mirror at Anderson & Sheppard to check the back-neck of his suits. While I didn’t go so far as to dance, we definitely put our prototypes through their paces.” Riccardo Zambon, The Rake’s Head of Business Development, says: “The feedback from the factory was that you guys are crazy. You say you want the lightest construction. You want the jacket to be like a shirt. But at the same time you want it to fit so perfectly. But instead of getting upset they enjoyed the process. They said, ‘No client has ever asked us for so much, but we will go with you on this journey because we are learning, too’.” Once the body of the coat was finalised, we started on the shoulder. It should be known that the famous Neapolitan shirt-sleeve shoulder — where a larger sleevehead is fitted into a small armhole, creating a pleating or shirring effect — is one of those processes that can be achieved only by hand, as the material has to be fed slowly and painstakingly into the armhole. We wanted our jackets to have exactly this kind of shoulder, with a maximum amount of shirring, to provide the greatest freedom of movement. And, yes, because it looks cool.
“One good thing about 2020 was that everyone had time to work on this project, and even our factory was perfectly willing to make what seemed like an endless series of prototypes,” Gafundi says. “Even though we were happy with the launch of The Rake Tailored Garments, we launched in 2020. For 2021 we started with a tabula rasa. From a construction and fit perspective, this is an all new, totally different and much improved jacket.” When we received the final prototypes, we did as Lorenzo Cifonelli instructed, which was to wear them buttoned and unbuttoned and to move around in them. The idea of liberation had certainly been achieved. The jackets felt incredibly light, almost weightless. Most of us didn’t even take them off when performing mundane tasks around the house. Then we looked at ourselves in the mirror and each of us was impressed by the sleek, fitted, balanced cut of the jackets. From a style perspective, we wanted our single-breasted jacket to be timeless. This meant medium-sized lapels and a barchetta or rowboat-shaped breast pocket, but at a slant, so as to create a more virile effect. Chamberlin explains: “When it came to the placement of the notch, we eschewed the current trend for sky-high gorges and placed it where we felt a classic gorge should sit. We wanted this to be a jacket you would wear for time immemorial, and as such it should not condescend to the ephemera of trend.” Laidlaw Hoare says: “I’ve worked in retail for many years, for brands including the Australian tailor P Johnson, and I see trends within classic menswear all the time. So I loved the fact we kept it classic: a great three-roll, two-button stance and the perfect-width lapel combined with that great Neapolitan shoulder. I love that because the jackets are so soft they look great dressed down with a polo, a T-shirt or a printed Hawaiian shirt, which is exactly the way we believe people will dress in the post-Covid summer. I also love that we brought beautiful shape to these clothes, which is a contrast to the looser fit garments we did last year, as a response to the lockdowns.” Zambon adds: “After finishing our single-breasted jacket we applied the same exercise to our double-breasted coat. Once the construction was perfect we started to discuss the style of the jacket. Some members of The Rake felt the 6x1 jacket we did last year was something not everyone liked. Others preferred a classic 6x2 double-breasted. But then someone raised the idea of creating what we call in Italian doppiopetto trasformabile — the transformable double-breasted jacket that can be buttoned either to the middle button or the bottom button.” Gafundi explains: “In sartorial history this is the most famous and mythical double-breasted jacket. It was invented by Domenico Caraceni, the famous Roman tailor, and is today made only for bespoke garments by the likes of A. Caraceni in Milan and Rubinacci in Naples.”
Rikesh Chauhan, The Rake’s social media manager, says: “The young person who popularised this style is Luca Rubinacci — everyone has seen him wearing an ivory linen double-breasted jacket in the style. You can always tell a transformable double-breasted jacket when it’s worn as a 6x1 because there is an additional button hole in the lapel where it can be fastened to the middle.” Laidlaw Hoare adds: “The reason this jacket has never been offered in ready-to-wear is that it is incredibly difficult to make. Your lapel has to be able to roll to the middle button position but also the bottom position. This means the canvas for the lapel has to be flexible, and that is where the challenge lies. But the beauty of the jacket is that you can wear it buttoned to the middle during business hours, and in the evening you can change to the lower button and it becomes a louche lounge suit, perfect for dinner. Accordingly, there is not one but two jigger buttons inside the coat.” Chamberlin: “Our transformable double-breasted is the first of its kind in ready-to-wear, and really speaks of the ambition we have to take the most important bespoke elements and introduce them to our vision of ready-to-wear. We could only do this through years of experience in tailoring. To make this jacket we had to unstitch one of Wei Koh’s personal jackets, to see how the canvas for the lapel was attached.” Gafundi: “In the end our new transformable DB is one of our proudest achievements. From a style perspective we wanted the jacket fitted like our single-breasted coat. Lapels that are just a touch on the wider side for that extra character but without being extreme. The gorge and peak of the lapels are in the classic position — neither too high or low. The proportions and fit of the coat are perfect, and like the single-breasted you almost forget you have it on until you look in the mirror.” The transformable DB jacket by The Rake Tailored Garments is available in ivory linen as well as a rakish gabardine in white or tan, priced at $USD 565. Laidlaw Hoare: “Our DB jacket is all about being sexy in the way we felt men would want to feel when we come out of lockdown. This is expressed by the shape of the lapels, by the slant of the pocket, and of course the ability to instantly change its character using the different buttoning points. Most importantly, both this and our single-breasted jacket are engineered to fit and enhance a wide variety of body types.” Not content to create new jackets, The Rake Tailored Garments also offers an all-new trouser as well, retailing between $USD 150 and 190. Instead of the fuller leg trouser of last year, we have created a slimmer model to go with our new jacket silhouette. But at the same time we dramatically enhanced the comfort of these trousers. Gafundi says: “As a cyclist I love the look of a slimmer-leg trouser, but I hate it when the area at the thigh is too tight. So when we created this new trouser we decided to radically deepen the pleats. This effectively adds cloth to the front of the trouser, which gives you more room while keeping the silhouette nice and slim.” Laidlaw Hoare adds: “These really deep forward pleats remind me a little bit of the Armani trousers from the eighties, like those worn by Richard Gere in American Gigolo. Because we wanted to keep this collection more casual we decided to go with belt loops instead of side adjusters.” Chamberlin says: “The result is what we consider to be the perfect trouser. We’ve seen a renewed interest in wide-legged pants, but the reality is that unless you have the physique of a greyhound, they look vaguely ridiculous. These slim-leg trousers with the deeper pleats are great. The pleats never gape open in an unsightly way. They enable the centre crease of the trouser to fall uninterrupted to the hem of the pants in a beautiful way, and they allow for a greater range of motion.” The prices of the new collection of The Rake Tailored Garments remain accessible. “At $USD 600 for a jacket and $USD 200 for a pair of trousers — made in Italy and using some of the world’s best fabrics — we feel that The Rake Tailored Garments is the very best value around,” Gafundi says. “This range of clothing sits under the price of our collaboration with Lorenzo Cifonelli and Loro Piana. One reason for this is that we agree with Lorenzo that we must create a bridge for the next generation to come into the world of classic elegance and tailored style. So this is the sort of gateway drug into our world, but with clothing that has zero compromise. At the same time I cannot think of a single person who will come out of 2020 without being that much more value conscious. We are aware that everyone was affected by the events of the last year and we want to offer this collection as a sign of our commitment to value and ethical business.” Please note: as this is a MTO collection, the buying window is open from now until Wednesday 7th April, 2021. With special thanks to Corinthia London Fashion Assistant: Amelia Hudson Models: O'shea Robertson and Harry Gozzett