Designer collaborations are so common nowadays that their announcement evokes, more often than not, a groan instead of any genuine excitement. To get overly cynical for a minute, you could even argue that this once-revolutionary formula has become completely stale (barring a few obvious exceptions, like any time Uniqlo collaborates with Christophe Lemaire).
Lately however, our faith has been restored by the excellent (and somewhat surprising) collaboration between British haberdasher Drake’s and New York ‘athleisure’ pioneer Aimé Leon Dore. Since launching in 2014, Aimé Leon Dore has garnered a cult following for its thoughtful take on comfortable dressing — churning out deceptively simple garments that are elevated by a focus on fit and the sort of sophisticated colour palette that’s an outlier in the world of streetwear. The brand’s founder Teddy Santis is known for his consistently unique approach to styling, another quality that shines through in the current collaboration.
The flipside of this equation is Drake’s, a London-based menswear brand that began life as a tiemaker. Since then the brand has evolved to offer some of the best ready-to-wear tailorings on the market: using a dedicated factory in Somerset for shirts, and a plethora of archival designs for neckwear.
Creative Director Michael Hill has a wealth of knowledge from which to draw inspiration — and boy does he put it to good use. The pale yellow ‘Birds of Paradise’ motif, used for the tie and matching pocket square, finely balances Drake’s more sartorial roots with a colour scheme that nods to devotees of Aimé Leon Dore. Predictably, the tie was one of the collection’s most sought-after pieces at launch and has already sold out.
The collaborative effort put in by both brands has yielded a grip of extremely wearable pieces. None of them would look out of place in either Drake’s or Aimé Leon Dore’s own standalone lookbooks — well, maybe the sweatpants — and that’s the beauty of it. The measure of any great collaboration is in how seamlessly it meshes both designers’ aesthetics, and on that front, nothing looks amiss here.
Personal favourites include a rust coloured suit, cut from robust cavalry twill: the jacket features patch pockets and a curved Barchetta breast pocket (translated from the Italian for ‘little boat’); and the trousers are made with singular pleats and side tabs for a clean, streamlined look. Elsewhere, knitwear — particularly this boldly striped Shetland jumper — is a strong component of the collab and is available in three triblock colourways.