Gieves & Hawkes
January 07, 2014 London
The import of creative director Jason Basmajian from Italy in 2013 has begun to change that. Basmajian was previously artistic director at Brioni, where he proved adept at making menswear that was traditional but not as stuffy as his forebears'. That's largely his task here. "We're a luxury brand, not a fashion brand," he said. Here he's got even more tradition to draw upon—some 240 years, versus Brioni's three score and ten.
Basmajian showed a more approachable version of sturdy English tailoring—still with a strong, slightly roped shoulder, a longer jacket, and a heavily cuffed pant, but his tweeds were softer to the touch, his topcoats as likely to come in alpaca or cashmere as military melton. "People say that's your Italian-Anglo angle, but I think that's just what international English style is," he said. "International" is a key to the brand's ongoing strategy. Gieves & Hawkes may be English-born, but it's Chinese-owned (said owners operate more than one hundred stores in Asia, as well as a handful in London and throughout the U.K.), and is currently courting international retailers its first season at wholesale.
There is ground to be regained (not to mention losses to be made up), but there's much that's appealing about Basmajian's vision. He's addressing the formalwear customer with natty aplomb (what peacock will resist the peacock-feather jacquard dinner jacket?), but also the informal one, with more sportswear. This season also saw the debut of exotic-skin leather goods and eyewear. Old house, new tricks.