Derrick, the Brand Making Tailoring as Comfortable as Pyjamas

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Derrick Autumn/Winter 2024
Derrick Autumn/Winter 2024Courtesy of Derrick

Following his first runway show in London, emerging menswear designer Luke Derrick talks about dressing a new generation of reluctant suit-wearers. “It’s about starting from a point of pragmatism,” he says

  1. Who is it? Luke Derrick is a London-based menswear designer specialising in tailoring with an athletic, utilitarian edge
  2. Why do I want it? Adapting the age-old traditions of Savile Row, Derrick’s clothes are designed to be thrown on, wrinkle-free, while remaining effortlessly chic
  3. Where can I find it? Derrick is available at his website as both ready-to-wear and made-to-order

Who is it? Tailoring suits Luke Derrick. Studying menswear at Central Saint Martins from 2015 to 2021 amid flurries of students in their swells of neon tulle, and the Demna disciples in lean, mean streetwear, Derrick wore a suit. A really good one, too. A week before his first runway show is set to debut at London Fashion Week, he’s now in his Bethnal Green studio beside a rail of his sharp new collection wearing cargo trousers, a snood, and a knitted jumper that could use a lint roller. “I had to blitz this studio a lot with a hoover before you came,” he says. “I’m usually always running late.”

To describe Derrick as a mucky tailor isn’t quite right. Sure, he’s far from Tom Ford, but there’s a palpable Savile Row sensibility stitched into his wholly wearable clothes, with adaptive twists that only the most knowledgeable of suit-wearers, such as himself, would think to add. Prior to his time at Saint Martins, he grew up in Oxford, attending a string of well-to-do schools. “I did army cadets and rowing to quite a high level in these masculine, hegemonic spaces,” he says. The first pieces he designed were for his school rowing team, which led to a summer internship with cycling-wear brand Rapha in 2012. “I always stuck out at school. I was a little bit more sensitive to the insults everyone was throwing around in the changing rooms.” Derrick is tall, standing roughly 6’4”. “I was always hunched over, trying to be a bit shorter.”

Camouflaged in his strict school uniform, he noticed how his posture changed and he stood a little taller. “If a suit is cut right, it will almost feel like you want to rise to it. Even subconsciously, when it’s right, you want to give respect to it,” he says. “Almost like getting comfortable in a new chair.” But there’s a stark difference between a suit made bespoke for your body and the Moss Bros rental for your job interview, which is a lesson Derrick learned while interning at a Savile Row tailor in 2016. Amid his colleagues making jabs at high street suitmakers (“They used the term ‘ready-to-wear’ to mean crap,” he says), he mastered the age-old techniques of custom tailoring. Details were complex but never fussy: a special pocket for a ruler, reinforced stitching for durability, or dust-proof textiles for some grubby workplaces – it’s bespoke design to solve bespoke problems. At an internship with the Italian menswear brand Brioni, his experience was different. “I’d come up with some rather whacky ideas, so they took me aside and they said: you have to understand that the guy who wears a Brioni suit doesn’t like wearing suits. He wears Brioni because we are the most comfortable.”

Weathering a pandemic, and with further internships at Alexander McQueen and Dunhill under his belt, Derrick gathered that for many, suits were a necessary chore, and for a particular generation, they represented something oppressive. But what if the suit could be the men’s everyday staple – if only they were a little more comfortable, to be chucked on in the morning, crinkle-free? Opening his label at the end of 2021, it was this philosophy that Derrick held close. “Sometimes you’ve overslept, you’re going to put this [suit] on five minutes before you leave, and it needs to work. It’s about starting from a point of pragmatism about the way people actually live in the city.”

Why do I want it? Titled Nightwalking, the designer’s Autumn/Winter 2024 collection distilled the nighttime walks he makes home from his studio late in the evening. Stretching from Bethnal Green Road to his flat in Spitalfields, he witnesses the late-working businessmen, the partygoers and the night owls, traipsing the streets of our nocturnal city under the glow of streetlights. “If I had a stuffy studio in Mayfair, I’d have a very different practice. People here are much more authentic – there’s an interesting mix of what London is, on this street,” he says. “You’ve got the old London silk weaving industry, blending into second-gen Bangladeshi families. There’s the artistic elite living in townhouses. It’s bizarre.”

Presented at the Newgen space behind Oxford Street to the rumbles and clattering of overhead train tracks, the setting of Derrick’s show was evocative of these nighttime walks. His models looked like they’d stepped off the street in their own clothes – albeit amazing clothes, many of them made from Hainsworth cloth, sourced from an ancient Scottish mill. “This is the same fabric that they put on the guards outside Buckingham Palace. It’s got this codified, possibly difficult history, but that’s 200 years of trying to get this fabric just right. You can scrunch these up, shove them in a suitcase.” Elsewhere there were crunchy Japanese nylon taffetas that, placed in the context of a tuxedo, mean that cycling to a party in the rain isn’t an impossibility. Bringing together these central contradictions between eveningwear and comfort, there’s a humanity in the collection’s utilitarianism, eschewing the architectural rigour of Savile Row in favour of clothes that are chic but made to be lived in.

On their surface, jackets and blazers follow the rules of tailoring, but inside they’re stripped down, devoid of padding, lining and revers, “but you can arrive somewhere and feel dressed up,” says Derrick. Meanwhile oversized dress shirts concealed hidden pockets, and Mackintosh coats were made completely waterproof. Becoming an exciting name in tailoring is no small feat, and it’s an unlikely category within London’s eccentric emerging design scene, but for Derrick, it is borne from sheer pragmatism. Building a deceptively casual wardrobe of thoughtfully tailored pieces, the designer is dressing up a generation of reluctant men who want to feel as comfortable in their tux as they are in their pyjamas. “If I do my work right, I look like I have my shit together. You present an idea that you have everything in hand,” he says, “but maybe the real fun of it is that, of course, you don’t. None of us do.”

Where can I find it? Derrick is available at his website as both ready-to-wear and made-to-order.