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DAKS: Celebrating 125 years of style

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The Year of the Pig might be on the horizon, but there is another reason to celebrate. This year marks the 125th anniversary of DAKS, and the British heritage brand is inviting you to join in the festivities

With its exquisite tailoring and famous House Check, DAKS has been the master of refined elegance for 125 years. Its rich heritage stretches back to 1894, when Simeon Simpson established a bespoke tailoring business on East London’s Middlesex Street that promptly garnered acclaim. Rather than focus solely on creating bespoke pieces, Simpson spotted a gap in the market and became the first man to successfully mass-produce high quality suits that were soon the must-have item in every gentleman’s wardrobe. ‘Simpson Suits’ had arrived.

Simpson’s enterprising streak was to be matched by his son Alexander, who was so frustrated at having his golf swing compromised by his braces that he set about creating a solution. His endeavours resulted in the invention of the ‘DAKS Top’ in 1934 – sports trousers with a revolutionary adjustable waistband that did away with the need for braces and belts. They became an overnight success, and by 1936 Alexander had realised his dream of opening the perfect showcase for his growing collection of sophisticated menswear.

Fashion

Indeed, Simpson Piccadilly wasn’t just the largest menswear store at that time, it was also incredibly innovative: its uninterrupted concave glass windows and cascade of light fittings were seen as the height of modernity. The building also played host to some of the brand’s most impressive achievements, particularly the honour of carrying three Royal Warrants as outfitters to the Duke of Edinburgh (granted in 1956), the Queen (granted in 1962) and the Prince of Wales (granted in 1983). And although DAKS left is Piccadilly home in 1999 for a new flagship store on Old Bond Street, this royal seal of approval is something the brand maintains to this day. 

 

HERITAGE MEETS MODERN DAY

This comes as little surprise when you consider that ‘Quality first’ has long been the company’s mantra, a fact evident in the spring/summer 2019 collection. There’s a beautifully understated elegance to the designs, with trench coats, tailored shorts, blazers and a dapper double-breasted suit all making an appearance. And with a colour palette of dusky pink, lemon yellow and vivid orange (all auspicious colours in the Year of the Pig), you would be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped into the heady scent of an English country garden in full bloom. So far, so British.

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However, while Filippo Scuffi, DAKS’ creative director, might be very good at evoking British nostalgia in his designs, he also knows how to marry the label’s heritage roots with the needs of today’s metropolitan consumer. So, we see that the classic trench coat has been given an update with a cool sleeveless option, for example, and suits are paired with crisp white t-shirts or relaxed knits for a more modern feel. In creating this effortlessly chic silhouette all his pieces become incredibly wearable. There is also one immediately identifiable brand staple that Scuffi has used to masterful effect: the DAKS’ House Check. 

Devised in 1976, the pattern incorporates the colours of camel and vicuna contrasted with the deepest of blacks to create a signature check that has become synonymous with the brand. It can be seen in the spring/summer 2019 collection in pretty a dropped-waist dress, but Scuffi has also taken it in a completely new direction. Indeed, DAKS couldn’t let its anniversary year pass without gesturing a nod towards this iconic pattern, so it is has introduced a specially designed Anniversary Check that Scuffi has used in key pieces in the collection.

In honour of its milestone anniversary and to help its Chinese customers see in the Chinese New Year in style, DAKS has devised a celebratory promotion. Between February 1 and8, it is  gifting those who visit its Old Bond Street store a gorgeous cashmere scarf in its iconic brand colours (worth £225) (minum spend £250). So, whether your wardrobe is in need of a seasonal update or you simply fancy indulging in a last-minute gift for Lunar New Year, this is the perfect time to invest in 125 years of great British style.  

 DAKS, 10 Old Bond Street, W1S 4PL. 020 7409 4000. daks.com

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