LONDON — Gieves & Hawkes has added three new members to its senior management team. Ray Clacher is now managing director of the brand worldwide; Jason Basmajian has officially joined as creative director after a six-year stint at Brioni, and Simon Baker has taken on the role of marketing director.
This story first appeared in the February 7, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“We want to be Britain’s leading men’s brand — make Gieves & Hawkes relevant again,” said Clacher, who has been a part of the G&H team for more than 10 years in roles including retail director and commercial director. For the past few years, he has led the brand’s expansion into China, where there are now 112 stores, with 12 more to open this year.
“The first thing we need to do is get London right in the next 12 months and reinvest in the domestic market. We’ve been too elitist in the U.K. We have to get back to middle England,” Clacher told WWD. After that, his plan is to “get people talking,” which is where Baker’s skills will come into play. Then will come a runway show during London Collections: Men, probably in June but certainly next January, which is where Basmajian comes in.
“Everything is happening in London now,” the creative director said. “I have spent a lot of time here over the last 18 months because it’s all heating up.” Clacher spent considerable time wooing the designer to G&H, where he is bringing more than 20 years experience from labels including Calvin Klein and Donna Karan.
“I don’t look at this as a re-branding exercise. I see it as an elevation of the brand, an escalation, returning it to its rightful place, back to a much more luxurious feel,” said Basmajian. “This is an international brand with a British accent. We don’t want to lose that. We have three Royal warrants and we’re the only Savile Row brand with a global presence.”
That global presence is set to grow. “The U.S. is our first target,” said Clacher. “I have spoken to Mr. Tommy Hilfiger [who owns a part of British Heritage Brands, the company behind Belstaff and Kent & Curwen] a number of times, and there is potential for a collaboration there.” He also hopes to expand into Russia and the Middle East.
All this while bringing manufacturing back to Britain. “Twenty-three percent is already made in the U.K., but we need more good British factories. They are there, we just need to find them and work with them. We want to be a sustainable company that’s 100 percent made in the U.K.,” said Clacher. He added that he wants to avoid licensing, except in the case of watches or fragrance, where the company is “not experts.”
Attention will be focused in the next year on No. 1 Savile Row, where Clacher hopes to perfect the shopping experience at its retail store. There is currently scaffolding up around the building, where a full-scale refurbishment is under way, with the hopes of being completed in the summer. Two extra floors of office space have been added, and the Gieves & Hawkes archive will be open to the public.
In charge of marketing all this G&H activity is Baker, who joins from Scottish whisky distiller Whyte & Mackay, where he was global brands director.
G&H was acquired by Trinity Ltd., the Hong Kong-based retailer of luxury men’s brands and part of the Li & Fung Group, in April 2012. The brand has a history that dates back to 1771, when Thomas Hawkes set up as a cap-maker on London’s Brewer Street. It is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.