Handmade tie maker Drake’s London, which was the chief tie and pocket square maker for the movie Kingsman: The Secret Service, will foray into China this year.
Since the release of Kingsman in China in March, the classic British fashion featured in the movie has gone viral on China’s social media sites, reports China Daily.
Mark Cho, who became the majority shareholder in the company in 2010 when founder Michael Drake retired, said, “The broader Chinese mainland market is not ready (for classic style ties) but it is definitely getting there.” He added, “We are now preparing to enter China, but it may take another three years for mainland customers to fully warm to the classic style of our ties.”
So far this year, Chinese menswear retailers have signed contracts for orders of 500-600 ties per year, along with approximately 200 scarves and handkerchiefs.
Remarking on the number of orders from China, Cho said, “That’s not a lot, but it is a very promising beginning for us.”
Overall, Drake’s has around 200 customers worldwide, ranging from boutiques to large luxury department stores.
Cho, who was born and bred in London, but whose parents are from China, knows the expansion into China won’t be easy.
“When people talk about the market in China they always talk about the huge population, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to make money, especially in the tie business. When people don’t have nice suits, shirts and shoes, the odds for them wanting a nice tie is rather low,” he said.
Cho noted that people in London wear nice suits everyday to work, whereas in China the work dress code isn’t nearly as fancy. He is counting on young, fashionable, Western-fashion influenced Chinese to embrace Drake’s London.
“The age group that is currently between 25 and 35 is the buyer group I am most interested in. Over the next 10 years, I think they will be the biggest part of Drake’s China business. I think their tastes are more sophisticated than that of their parents. More importantly, they want to listen and they are keen to learn and try new styles. Most customers in the US and Europe are more set in their ways,” Cho said.
After Cho became enamored with Drake’s London when he received a tie as a gift twelve years ago, he couldn’t resist the opportunity to invest in the company as a majority shareholder when the original founder retired in 2010. Not only did Cho not want to lose the opportunity to buy Drake’s ties, but he also saw the business as a sound investment.
“The business was financially stable and already on a good trajectory. By adding retail stores and an online store, we are able to earn both a wholesale and a retail profit as well,” said Cho, who also co-founded Hong Kong’s The Armoury, a Hong Kong haberdasher and menswear retailer.
The majority of Drake’s business comes from the wholesale business, which makes up 70 percent of the company’s business. In-store sales account for 17 percent, and the rest comes from online sales.
The focus for Cho in building Drake’s London is on the quality of the ties, which are made in the brand’s London factory and shown in its two London flagship stores.
image credit: drake’s london