Quintessentially British

At a time when the declining economy is decimating brands that have historically dominated the British high street — Woolworths (the English version), Habitat, Aquascutum and more recently the Game Group (also no ­relation) — other British brands are on the up and up.

Aquascutum, the 160-year-old ­luxury clothing brand, recently closed its factory in Corby and this was just the start of a series of collapses of United Kingdom retail brands, including Jane Norman and Barratts.

Jeremy Hackett, co-founder of Hackett London, told the Mail & Guardian last week — on the eve of the opening of his flagship store in Sandton — that the failure of many of these brands was because they did not understand their customers.

“Traditional brands try to be trendy and fashionable and end up losing core customers without ­actually attracting the fashionable customers,” said Hackett. “We are not high fashion or trying to be high fashion. We are classical and sell the romantic vision of Britishness.”

Dressed in a navy-blue suit, Hackett claimed appropriately that “the perfect suit is a navy-blue suit that is classically cut, made with good cloth and something that does not date”.

Hackett London, the quintessential British men’s outfitters, was founded in 1983 by Hackett and Ashley Lloyd-Jennings. They sold ­second-hand vintage clothes in a small shop located in what was deemed the “wrong end” of trendy King’s Road at that time.

“We are perceived as a heritage brand even though we are only 30 years old. But people think we are 130 years old. It works for us,” said Hackett.

Lucrative market
South Africa, and more specifically Johannesburg’s clothing retail ­sector, is a lucrative market for ­international clothing brands.

In the past six months Spanish retailer Zara, United States label Gap, the UK’s French Connection and now Hackett London have opened stores in Sandton City’s new Protea Court.

Hackett London has 37 stand-alone stores and 44 concessions worldwide. The Sandton store is one of two in South Africa; the other is at OR Tambo International Airport. The franchise in South Africa was made possible through a partnership with local investor Moosa Mayet.

Mayet is director of Hackett London in South Africa and has also partnered with labels such as Timberland. According to Mayet, “the art of dressing stylishly has unfortunately declined over several years. Institutions such as Hackett are a throwback to a time when people took pride in their attire and fussed over their appearance.”

In the past few years the brand has expanded its retail and wholesale sector globally and reported export sales growth of 1?500% overall and a 200% growth in turnover, thereby turning its losses into profit.

Hackett London was recently awarded a 2012 Queen’s Award for enterprise in international trade for its continuous growth of export sales and overall company performance.

Part of the company’s success lies in sponsorship deals with sporting and social events such as the Oxford-Cambridge boat race and the ­British Academy Film and Television Awards, as well as its long-standing association with Aston Martin, the British manufacturer of large luxury sports cars.

Very British

“David Richards [chairperson of Aston Martin] suggested we do something together, so Hackett puts together the Hackett London Aston Martin clothing ranges and we pay them a royalty,” said Hackett of the partnership. “We are working on a special tweed collection for Aston Martin. We are known for our tweed. It is very British but will have an urban feel to it.”

Personal tailoring is also a growing business, according to Hackett. ­”People are fed up with constantly buying new things — they want to invest more in the more personal touch and individuality.”

Hackett, famously known as “Mr Classic”, is also a columnist, blogger and author. In 2007 he published a coffee-table book, Mr Classic, about the stereotypical British taste for the finer things in life.

Hackett London will showcase its clothes at the London Fashion Week for the first time this year and there is a store in the pipeline on ­London’s famous Saville Row.


Workers fight job-creation ‘mess’

Former Ekurhuleni workers argued in court that a programme promising to equip them with skills simply acted as a labour broker for the municipality

Court dissolves local municipality

Landmark judgment paves the way for South Africans to use legal system to hold councils responsible

Mabuza’s ‘distant relative’ scored big

Eskom’s woes are often because of boiler problems at its power plants. R50-billion has been set aside to fix them, but some of the contracts are going to questionable entities

ANC faction gunning for Gordhan

The ambush will take place at an NEC meeting about Eskom. But the real target is Cyril Ramaphosa

Press Releases

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Is your tertiary institution is accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Is your tertiary institution accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

VUT chancellor, Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi, dies

The university conferred the degree of Doctor of Science Honoris Causa on Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi for his outstanding leadership contributions to maths and science education development.

Innovate4AMR now in second year

SA's Team pill-Alert aims to tackle antimicrobial resistance by implementing their strategic intervention that ensures patients comply with treatment.

Medical students present solution in Geneva

Kapil Narain and Mohamed Hoosen Suleman were selected to present their strategic intervention to tackle antimicrobial resistance to an international panel of experts.