Jeremy Hackett and Ashley Lloyd-Jennings meet in the Portobello Road, West London both combing the market for good second-hand traditional British men’s clothing. A business partnership is soon started with a small stall in Portobello themselves, selling on the clothing after cleaning and repairs.
With a thriving small business in Portobello, Jeremy Hackett and Ashley Lloyd-Jennings make a big step up and open their first shop under the name “Hackett” at the wrong end (as their bank manager observed) of the New Kings Road in Parson’s Green, London. Still selling fine quality second-hand traditional British clothing and accessories, discovered in house clearances and numerous antique markets, Hackett soon gains cult status aided by interest in “Young Fogeydom” and the “Sloane Ranger handbook”.
It becomes apparent that market demand will always exceed supply of quality second-hand clothing and accessories and Hackett and Lloyd-Jennings decide that the answer is to manufacture from new, to complement the second-hand offering. Starting from scratch but working with traditional manufacturers, they are able to create their ideal range of clothing and accessories based on their extensive knowledge of British men’s style. The range contains all their favourites but displays a bold use of colour and pattern, presenting a fresh take on British men’s style attracting the sons of the then archetypal Savile Row customer.
Such is the continuing success of the first shop in Parson’s Green that Hackett opens more shops in the locality; one for shirts and ties, one for tailoring, a specialist formalwear shop, a barber’s and gentlemen’s accessories shop, and finally a sportswear shop. All are within a hundred yards of each other and the area becomes affectionately known by London cabbies as “Hackett Cross”.
Hackett first becomes involved in the sport of polo. Approached by two army officers looking for sponsorship, the Hackett Polo Team is formed and plays out of Guards Polo Club. This is the beginning of the Hackett polo shirt. Originally made solely for the team, Hackett customers who have spent a pleasant afternoon up at Smith’s Lawn keep asking to buy the shirts. Jeremy and Ashley eventually relent and the rest is history. Hackett is still involved in polo today with several International teams. Hackett’s growing appeal to the City professional prompts Hackett to venture out of Parson’s Green and set up shop in the financial and legal districts of London, taking in Eastcheap, Bishopsgate and Holborn.
Hackett starts to advertise in a small way and adopts two devices, which prove to have longevity, the chequer board advertising style and the strapline, “Essential British Kit”, the perfect summation of everything that Hackett is about.
By the late eighties, Hackett is attracting considerable interest from anglophile Europeans and in particular Spanish customers. Capitalising on this interest, Hackett opens its first shop in Madrid with Spanish partners. This provides the foundation for a very successful Spanish business which includes concessions with the Spanish department store group, El Corte Ingles.
Following on from the Polo association Hackett take on the promising 3 Day Eventer, William Fox-Pitt and so began one of the longest associations in the sport with William going on to take part in 3 Olympiads for Great Britain while winning all of the classics on the way.
With a growing footprint in London and abroad, Hackett attracts the attention of Alfred Dunhill (eventually to become the Richemont Luxury Goods Group) who buy a majority shareholding in Hackett. This injection of support enables Hackett to open its still current flagship store on Sloane Street, London SW1 in October 1992.
Hackett has its first brush with motoring and becomes the first sponsor of the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
The home of the phrase, “Le style anglais”, becomes the next step in the expansion of Hackett with the opening of a shop on the Left Bank in Paris
After repeated requests from customers to make clothes for children just like Daddy’s, Hackett produces its first range for “Essential British Kids”.
Hackett embarks on a long-term sponsorship of the England Rugby Football Union team. As the Official Formal Wear Suppliers to Sir Clive Woodward’s team, Hackett kits out the players with bespoke blazers and flannels, and later on introducing the team’s first ever team suit.
Hackett, with an established reputation for its Tweeds, launches its most enduring one in conjunction with “Horse and Hound” magazine, a bold and colourful tweed with a green base and red overcheck.
Charley Hackett, Jeremy’s Sussex Spaniel rescued from Batterseas Dogs’ Home, makes her modelling debut and appears in numerous Hackett campaigns. Reportedly, Charley will now only set foot in the studio for a minimum of 10,000 dog biscuits a day.
Jonny Wilkinson becomes the face of Hackett. Although not a household name at this stage, Jonny is the obvious choice to represent the brand thanks to his existing links with Hackett via the England Team sponsorship and due to him being the perfect embodiment of the modern “English Gentleman”.
England become Rugby World Champions and are paraded around the streets of London in an open topped bus resplendent in their Hackett tailored suits. Jonny Wilkinson OBE is the hero with his last minute drop goal against Australia.
Hackett becomes Official Partner to the GT1 works Aston Martin Racing team, providing official team clothing and selling a range of licensed clothing and accessories. Aston Martin Racing’s official presence in GT racing, the first since bowing out with victory in the 1959 Le Mans 24 Hours Race, has been successful with some significant victories and countless podium finishes. Class victory at Le Mans is the remaining ambition for the team. The Pepe London Group acquires Hackett from Richemont and invests heavily in the development of the brand with the aim of reinforcing its position as the best in British style in the UK and abroad
Investment gathers momentum with major revamps of the Sloane Street and Jermyn Street shops completed. In addition to a total of 29 shops across the UK, Spain and France, Hackett is now represented in 15 European countries, Hong Kong and Dubai. The sponsorship portfolio increases with the addition of the London Rowing Club and the British Army Polo Team as well as sponsorship of the Rundle Cup, the long standing and hard fought annual polo match between The Army and The Navy.
Hackett expands in Paris on the prestigious 'Rive Gauche' along the Boulevard des Capucines as well as in Marunouchi, Japan. Hackett also introduces International Tennis under the sponsorship banner by kitting out the world's best tennis players at the ATP Finals and the court officials at the Valencia Open Final, Spain. Snow Polo in Klosters continues to grow in it's second year, where all the players wear fleece lined Hackett shirts.
The spotlight falls on Germany as two Hackett stores are opened in Frankfurt and Hamburg, with the sponsorship of the German Open Tennis in Hamburg further supporting this expansion. Tennis continues to play a central role in sponsorship as Hackett becomes a clothing partner at the prestigious BNP Paribas Masters Tennis in Paris, where the world's top players compete in the final tournament prior to the ATP finals the following week.Hackett's sponsorship portfolio continues to expand with the addition of British Polo Day in Dubai, where polo is played on both horses and camels, in the blistering Dubai heat. Many iconic British Institutions take part, giving the event an old school British heritage feel.