2020 Knitwear

Pattern Recognition: Brushed Repp Stripe Jumpers

By Alex Freeling

Jul 13, 2022

Pattern Recognition: Brushed Repp Stripe Jumpers


Inspired by our classic striped repp silk ties, we have worked with expert makers in Italy to create these shaggy brushed jumpers, knitted in dashing regimental stripes.


Why are patterns so pleasing? Here’s my theory: it’s the combination of old and new. On the one hand, pattern is repetition. Patterns are made of recurring motifs and shapes—and we keep repeating them in everything from clothing to carpentry, interiors to industrial design. On the other hand, we continually find new meaning in familiar patterns. Camouflage became high fashion. Tartan somehow found its way from ceremonial dress to my pyjamas. As for leopard print, I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

Anyone who enjoys tailoring will sooner or later find themselves drawn from solid coloured shirts, ties and jackets to the wide world of pattern: checked jackets; shirts with subtle hairline stripes and bold butcher’s stripes; ties from pindot to paisley. Most eye-catching of all might be the striped repp tie in all its bright and varied patterns. For a century now, repp stripes have signified membership: in sporting clubs, schools, universities and military regiments. Bruce Boyer has suggested that the tradition can be traced back to the heraldic colours of medieval knights. This certainly captures the spirit of the thing: at once eye-catching decoration and social signifier.

For those in the know, these stripes were a sign of affiliation and fraternity. Like the bands on a venomous snake, they could also warn others to keep their distance. But as with so many elements of male dress, the repp tie travelled far from its original context, to be discovered and enjoyed over the years by fans of American prep, Italian stile inglese, and Japanese Ivy style. These translations suggested fun and fantasy as well as heritage and history. Part of the appeal, I think, was in the translation itself: put an old design in a new context and it gains a kind of mystique. (In the same way, overheard conversations in languages I don’t speak always sound more interesting to me, even when they’re probably about groceries or the weather).

In the same spirit, Drake’s presents a trio of repp stripe lambswool jumpers for the cooler months. They’re dense and hardy in the autumn wind, but brushed to be soft to the touch. What better way to celebrate one iconic design than with a playful nod to another? What’s more, by rotating and extending the stripe pattern, these jumpers also look a little sporty, echoing the hoop stripes of vintage rugby shirts. We’ve come full circle.

The result is a piece of knitwear that’s as versatile as it is memorable. It’s immediately at home with thick cords and waxed jackets as classic country wear. For a preppy alternative, pair it with denim and suede chukkas, or washed chinos and penny loafers. Best of all, you can actually wear it in place of a tie: the earthy colours sit perfectly with button-down shirts and wool flannel trousers. As with all the best translations, it makes something new while preserving the spirit of the original.


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