It takes time, care and a lot of skilled people to make a Drake's tie. Come behind the scenes with us at our Haberdasher Street, East London factory to find out exactly what goes into our neckwear.
Making things takes a lot of time, effort and good people. We’ve been making our own ties for over thirty years now, and it’s a process that still follows essentially the same process as it did when we began. We’re honored to still have many of the same faces from those early years working on our ties, and their skill is what defines us.
We work with some of the finest mills in the world to weave and print our unique tie fabrics, and the ties are made by hand at our East London home on Haberdasher Street. Before the work can start in earnest, each roll of cloth is painstakingly checked for inconsistencies. It’s an extremely time-consuming process - the only way to do this effectively is manually - but attention to detail at this stage allows us to eliminate potential issues before they happen. From there, the cloth is divided into panels and sent to the cutters. The cloth is laid out square for cutting, with the pattern at a forty-five degree angle. This is known as cutting on the bias. “Cashmere and the large-knot grenadine are the two fabrics that give the most, so we have to cut shorter and wider to accommodate” says Mario, one of the head cutters. “Another one that requires a special approach is the repp. You have to add two centimeters onto the tie because the cloth shrinks. There’s no give in it - if you pick it up, it’s solid, whereas if you pick up a grenadine it’ll give. It takes years of knowing how the cloth is going to react to get this perfect.
Once it’s been cut, the cloth is moved to the workroom, and from there is distributed amongst the different workers.The first stage is where we join the three component pieces of the tie together - the blade, the neck and the tail. This is also when the tie has it’s tipping inserted, depending on the finish. From there ties go to have their first quality control check, where the sewing and tipping is inspected for quality and consistency. "The point is very important” says Chris, who oversees operations at the factory. “Joining a tie up is fairly straightforward as long as you’re getting the edges straight, but it’s the point that’s the key. If it’s not perfect, the point will open up, so it’s critical to get it right.” Any that don’t meet Chris’ stringent standards are removed from production immediately.
From here the ties get allocated to the slipping stage. At the slipping stage, the material is folded around the interlining. Different interlining is used depending on the fabric of the tie to ensure the best handle. “It doesn’t necessarily follow that you would use the very light interlining with the heavy cloth”, Chris says. “With a heavy cloth like cashmere, it might not hold it’s shape as well as a silk, so you need to use a more robust interlining. Whereas some of the light prints you might use quite a light weight interlining so that it makes a smaller knot.” The slipping process begins with everything pinned in the centre back of the tie. From there, the panels are bar-tacked together using an anchor stitch before the actual slipping happens. Slipping involves sewing a running slip-stitch tucked underneath the folds of the tie. “It’s free-flowing thread” Chris says “and that’s what gives the ties their ability to recover and hold their shape. We only used one piece of thread all of the way down.” It’s a technique that requires exceptional skill - it’s very important to get the shape at both ends of the tie correct, and to catch the interlining whilst not sewing through to the front of the tie. If a tie features a hand-rolled tip, this also is the point where that tip is rolled and sewn.
Once the slipping is complete, the ties go through another round of quality control, this time focused specifically on the slipping. Even a small error can compromise the tie, so it’s imperative that the slipping is done perfectly. After that, the tips are given a gentle steam and press to give them their shape. Our ties are constructed 'in the round', and that depth and three-dimensionality is part of what gives them their shape and handle, so it's important that at no stage are they ever pressed flat. Once this is done, the ties have their loops and labels hand-stitched on. They are then subjected to one final complete quality check to ensure that every aspect of them is perfect - the final step in a process that has taken hours of work over twenty people. It’s not the fastest way to make a tie, but the end results speak for themselves.