On Tuesday I had the opportunity to enjoy dinner in a small group with the founder of Hackett, Jeremy Hackett. I anticipated that it would be an unmissable opportunity to listen to a founder (1983) who had remained with his creation and I was not disappointed.
Firstly (and this is something I did not know) he began CURATING rather than CREATING. Selling second hand clothes picked up in markets all over including London and Paris. Of course he was creating - carefully editing an aesthetic which would then become the brand we all know today.
It's interesting that Mr Hackett stresses that at this time he had "no notion of brand". Sometimes when someone says that it is modesty, other times its true. When it is the latter such a statement is the result of a genuine passion and vision which is so powerful that it does actually will a brand into being without all the attendant back room strategy. Of course the strategy then has to follow but it's interesting to dwell on the relationship between product and brand - considering the question what would you rather lead with - a strong product or a strong brand.
Despite my passion for branding I believe that it is the product which is fundamental for success and longevity. There is nothing more deflating for a consumer than to "fall for" a brand only to be disappointed by the product You can only fool people for so long.
Secondly, I think everyone round the table was impressed by his sheer commitment to the enterprise despite the fact that, over time, ownership has changed. That's refreshing. He built something and thirty years on he's still nourishing it. Doing things for the long term rather than the short term is admirable. Contrast that with a lot of people who only seek to create something they can inflate, flip. cash out and walk away from.
Finally, all of this was delivered with great humility, modest insight and utter dedication to his
brand products ! Altogether an enjoyable evening chaired / facilitated by a very able Colin Cameron.