When it comes to British tailoring and Savile Row, the name Jeremy Hackett will be more than familiar. Having worked on the Row since his early 20s, it was in 2019 when the inimitable Mr. Hackett finally opened the beautiful J.P. Hackett townhouse at No. 14. In our latest instalment of #EGMeets, we chat to Mr. Hackett at Sautter Cigars in Knightsbridge.
EGM: Tell us a bit about how you started your career. We were having a conversation earlier in which you shared that you had your first suit made at the age of seven — which is the best thing ever!
Jeremy Hackett: That’s right! It was for a special occasion; my parents took me to the school outfitters who happened to have a bespoke department as well. My parents wanted me to have this really thick, heavy, grey worsted cloth and I thought, ‘no, no I don’t want that.’ And I was looking at some patterns and I saw a donegal tweed — grey, black and white donegal tweed — and thought that might be very smart and so, after some tough negotiation my parents relented and I got what I wanted. And the funny thing is at the time, I noticed that the tailor had a ticket pocket on his suit and I said, ‘oh can I have a pocket like that as well?’ and still today I have a ticket pocket!
Jeremy Hackett smokes a Trinidad Media Luna at Sautter
EGM: So how did you begin your career in menswear?
JH: Well, I was a terrible pupil in school. When I was 16 I failed my O-Levels and the Headmaster said It’d be better if you sort of, leave! And at that time I already had a Saturday job at a tailor’s shop just picking up pins, making tea, dusting, that sort of thing, and I quickly realised it wasn’t really for me and I wanted to move to London. I used to go to London to buy my clothes on the weekend anyway. It always seemed more glamorous, going up to London. And I would hitchhike to there [from Bristol].
EGM: How long would it take you to hitchhike to London from Bristol?
JH: Well, sometimes you’d get one lift all the way, and others, well, you know. But, four hours?
JH: But it cost nothing, so I could spend it on clothes!
Jeremy Hackett at Sautter in Knightsbridge
JH: So I decided when I was about 19 that I’d move permanently to London and I initially worked in the King’s Road in a number of different boutiques, a famous group of shops called The Village Gate, back in the 1970s. A lot of the people that worked in these shops went on to create their own brands, like Philip Start. In fact, he gave me my first job and I was absolutely petrified of him! And then I was approached to go work on Savile Row, that was probably when I was 21 or something. I went to work for this inspirational tailor called John Michael who had a huge shop, which must’ve made everybody on Savile Row look up in horror because it was a very stylized, 1970s / 1930s, it was like walking into a very glamorous liner. He was great and taught me a lot about retailing. And about branding!
Jeremy Hackett outside Sautter in Knightsbridge
EGM: So, cigars!
JH: Oh right! I almost forgot about those!
EGM: You’re a bit of a cigar aficionado.
EGM: How did you get into cigars? Was it a prerequisite of menswear or was it separate?
JH: When I was very young, around 20—
EGM: Not seven.
JH: Not seven, no! I had been smoking cigarettes, and was then living in London. I had to wear clean shirts everyday for work, and I got fed up with ironing. So I thought, if I give up smoking, I’ll see the benefit by having my shirts laundered. So from that day on I never smoked another cigarette. And it was only a few years ago that I started smoking cigars. Just cheap ones, the sort that you’d buy from your local newsagents. I was with Nick Foulkes one day and I pulled out one of these cigars and he looked at it, horrified! He said ‘you can’t smoke that!’ and took me across the road to Davidoff, and introduced me to a Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2. I’ve smoked ‘proper’ cigars ever since.
Watch the complete interview above. Video by Marcus Ebanks, interview and photography by Rikesh Chauhan. Special thanks to Sautter Cigars for their hospitality.