As with Thomas Pink, Ted Baker and Chester Barrie, there is no such person as Kit Blake. All those three houses have compelling stories behind their fictional names – well worth some search engine action when you have an idle moment – so what’s the story behind the name of the new menswear brand from Chris Modoo?
There was a time, according to the ever affable Modoo, when Savile Row notables getting a suit made on London’s famous tailoring strip would book under a pseudonym in order to get their garments being made quicker – professional members of the community tending to be put on the bottom of the pile. “Kit Blake”, an iteration of his first name plus that of the street he grew up on, was Modoo’s.
Modoo cut his teeth at the tie department in Selfridges, working in the tie department, and Jermyn Street shirt-makers Thomas Pink. A period as Head of Buying at Ede & Ravenscroft followed, then a six-year stint at Chester Barrie, where he joined forces with Edward Sexton – the legendary cutter, designer and tailor who, with his business partner Tommy Nutter, dressed rock-and-roll royalty in the 60s, in the process revolutionising Savile Row, and was brought in to Chester Barrie around the same time as Modoo as a consultant.“Edward taught me not to compromise and how great style and great fit are not mutually exclusive,” he says.
Now, along with his business partner and friend the entrepreneur Richard Wheat, Modoo has founded a menswear brand aimed at au courant men who favour versatile, expertly crafted separates: and he looks set to carve an all-new niche in the busy realm that is modern menswear. At the core of the collection are the Aleksandartrousers – high-waisted with deep, forward-facing pleats, side adjusters, and tapering legs – designed to be wornin the office, for leisure, in a black tie or morning dress scenario or even for playing golf.
“It’s a return to the classic proportions in tailoring,” explains Modoo. “We started with trousers as a reaction against the ubiquity of the bland blazers and badly-fitting jeans that have become a uniform for too many men. We have nothing against Jeremy Clarkson and respect his views on motoring, but we don’t want to dress like him.”
The collection also includes blazers in dark blue wool mesh blazer and brown flannel prince of wales check (the latter is double-breasted), as well as an imperious navy blue overcoat: a small collection to start with but one which Modoo hopes will prompt men to reassess the way they go about compiling an ensemble for any given occasion. “Dressing better takes no more effort than wearing jeans does,” he points out. “You could go to the football on a Saturday afternoon and then head straight to a nice restaurant without being under or overdressed.”
Kit Blake clothing is available from therake.com. firstname.lastname@example.org/www.kitblake.com
Photographs – shot on location in Jermyn Street and Dukes Hotel – by Alex Lawrence