Seeing the trees for the wood: Connolly and Yard-O-Led on The Rake

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A reader recently asked whether there was anything I particularly liked on The Rake’s online shop, given how much they’ve added in the past year.

I feel I know why he’s asking. The Rake has added so much product recently that it’s hard to know where to begin. I count 250 brands, some with dozens of products, some with just one.

I don’t need much of an excuse to spend time shopping online, so I spent an enjoyable few hours browsing through everything, pretending I was merely answering his question.

I then followed up with The Rake, to add some more information around which brands weren't available elsewhere and which were stocked, rather than being a ‘marketplace’ model where they sell on behalf of brands.

I’m sure many people won’t care about the latter, but the former is important if you want to know which pieces you can’t find elsewhere and have to get at The Rake.

In terms of stock, there is a page here where The Rake lists all products that can be shipped for next-day delivery, because they don’t have to be sourced from the brands themselves.

There is also a page here that has all their exclusives.

And the brands that have few stockists and don't have their own e-commerce are: Alfredo Rifugio, Chapal, Connolly, Cromford Leather, Dalcuore, De Petrillo, Fralbo, GIIN, Melina, Magnus & Novus, Stark & Sons and Thedi Leathers.

I wanted to particularly highlight these brands because there are some, such as Connolly, that I think suffer from not selling online. Knowing the sites that do stock them is a useful addition to going into the store - either to browse before visiting or to consider afterwards.

A recent photoshoot at Connolly (shown above) was also a nice way to highlight one of my favourite pieces they and The Rake sell: the driving sweater.

This has a nice back story, as a piece of knitwear that could be worn open or zipped up to protect against the wind when driving.

But of course it’s only interesting today because I find it’s still useful, and stylish.

Useful because it provides an infinite number of opening sizes at the neck. Those that find roll necks uncomfortable can unzip it slightly, yet retain a similar face-framing look. And those that don’t can also also adjust it depending on the temperature.

I adore roll necks but they can be a little too warm indoors. Unzipping the neck makes the piece considerably cooler, and it can then be zipped back up when you go outside, fitting nicely under a coat.

In terms of style, I know some won’t like it but I find the zip a useful contemporary alternative to the normal roll neck. Something a little more removed from classic menswear.

As with everything at Connolly, the driving sweater is also made from the best cashmere (trust me, go in and have a feel) and is technically well done. It's not easy getting the right tension in the neck such that the collar doesn't collapse at any point.

Another piece I wanted to highlight, and therefore included here, was the Yard-O-Led Perfecta ballpen I ended up getting from The Rake site after that browse.

This isn’t something that’s exclusive to The Rake, as it’s sold on Yard-O-Led’s own site and elsewhere. But it is my favourite design from the range, with its more subtle engraving and gently flared top.

It’s also slimmer than a lot of Yard-O-Led pieces, making it easier to sit inside a jacket. I have plenty of fountain pens, but wanted a rollerball so I had something better for travel - and less likely to block or need a refill.

Elsewhere on The Rake, browsing through everything showed that a lot of the brands I didn’t know were either jewellery brands or related to smoking.

Jan Leslie, Marco dal Maso, Nialaya, The Mechanists: all are sellers of those bracelets so popular at Pitti.

And brands like Elie Bleu, Fallon, Rapport, Rare by Oulton, Savinelli and Xikar sell smoking paraphernalia.

One more, final, way to filter the products effectively is to look at the site's best sellers.

This shows which are the most popular, but also which have a good depth of stock, rather than just one humidor or a single piece of jewellery. They are:

1. Rubinacci
2. Anderson & Sheppard
3. Drake’s
4. Carmina
5. Belsire
6. Edward Sexton
7. Cordone 1956
8. Lardini
9. Valstar
10. Chapal
11. George Cleverley
12. Ettinger
13. Bodileys
14. Cifonelli
15. Kit Blake
16. Barbanera
Hopefully that will a decent answer to the reader's inquiry. If anyone else wants to give me an excuse to shop online for a few hours, do let me know.
Photography: Kim Lang

What to learn about how Permanent Style is funded? Read here: 'Is this an ad?'

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Sam

Hi Simon,

I think that the “thing” from you sentence “that I thing suffer from not selling online” should be think? If you know what I mean?

The Rake is an interesting site – it seems to often be seen as “selling out”, which always seems a bit unfair. It’s reasonable to assume that pivoting to a retail focus is simply a better way of paying the bills than trying to run a fairly niche magazine format.

The selection of brands they have is really interesting though. Being critical I’d say their photography and merchandising still leaves something to be desired – I’m surprised at how unimpressive they’ve made this (far from cheap) Cifonelli suit look:

https://therake.com/cifonelli-charcoal-single-breasted-two-piece-wool-suit.html

They’d probably benefit from more model shots, and frankly a better lighting setup for photography. At the moment the overall impression is sort of a Mr Porter imitator rather than a brand in its own right.

Sam

P.S.
“Knowing the sites that does stock them is a useful addition” should probably be “do stock them”

Triskel

Sam

I wonder whether it is really necessary for you to correct insignificant errors? If they are significant and affect the meaning that is a different matter. Simon works hard to give us all this information free of charge and your comments (as this to you) may be seen as a rebuke, though Simon is much too polite to say so.

Sam

Hi,

They’re certainly not intended as a rebuke. I don’t know Simon, but I get the impression he’d rather have no errors on the site than just not have them pointed out. I think he sets pretty high standards on his work and how he presents it.

I did also try to include some non-typo related thoughts – I only made two separate comments as I saw a typo in the sentence following the original one, so it seemed worth mentioning too.

Beement Tufa

Hi simon.
Where did you buy that dark brown corduroy jacket?

Juan Huertas

Hi Simon! Did you like that cord jacket? Would you buy it? Thanks.

Jason

And the price ?

Jason

And the price of the cord jacket is ?

Jason

And how does the quality compare to the SEH Kelly cord jacket?

JB

Hi Simon. May I ask where your notebook is from?

DE

Hi Simon, I appreciate why you’ve written this and your comments about The Rake’s online store. However, I have to say that I think that The Rake online shopping site is a mistake (this has nothing to do with the great craftsmen and retailers featured). I’ve had a couple of bad experiences buying from them (probably down to their drop shipping model) with both orders delivered at least a week late and one order delivered with an incorrect item. After a couple of emails and a mystifying phone call with The Rake’s ‘Customer Service’ team, I decided to cut them out completely, went straight to the brand concerned (luckily they have a shop in London) and they kindly swapped the item for the correct one for me! Good e-commerce is not easy and in my experience The Rake do it badly, especially when compared to pros like Mr Porter. However, probably the most disappointing aspect is how badly The Rake shop has affected the The Rake magazine. The last issue not only had an inserted pull out advert, but the online shop was mentioned on almost every other page of the publication! Sad to see a magazine that I used to enjoy turn into not much more than a catalogue.

AW

For those of you who’ve had customer service challenges I can echo them. Email has almost been tediously slow or unresponsive. Phone calls seem to be completely ignored. Best responses ironically have been to reach out to the Rake through facebook. That’s how I’ve gotten an order shipped and a return completed. I do like their store. And Wei has apologized for some growing pains. I just hope they are finally able to scale soon.

Anonymous

Obliquely, this seems like a promotion for The Rake – one of your advertisers. I’ve commented before about the acceptability of embedded links however the links are to items with a high super-luxe price that, at The Rake, seem accompanied with an underwhelming description. Your write-up is a superior sell. All rather back-to-front. I agree with Sam re. the lack of polish, the images need to be better but so does the text. Respectfully, Triskel’s point requires challenging as it is not the first time someone has said ‘free of charge’ re. content. It is free to read but content is provided within a web business model connected to advertising. All acceptable but cross-wiring this with promotional copy raises questions about veracity and transparency in the readers mind.

Anonymous

Given that it’s the advertisements that pay for your commissions, (V. clever business model), I think it’s right that you continue to be transparent in your writing.

Keep it up.

Chris

Almost feels like these comments on your business model are trolling you, Simon.

Can’t help but feel they have their commercial interest in continuously putting down the blog or making wild accusations. Either way, it’s becoming rather dull.

Good on you for the continuous engagement in responding to them.

Joel

I always used to think the Rake carefully picked out brands of quality which is why there they only stocked a few brands. Now they stock so much, I’m not sure if they stand up to how I used to view them.

Do you think all the brands are good quality?

I know it’s a hard a question as they are an advertiser and obviously you don’t want to upset them.

WES WP

I’d be interested in a profile on Maison Degand in Brussels – especially given that Pierre Degand has undertaken a multi-million dollar renovation for his single store, his incredibly high prices and legendary service, but also because he stocks (along with Hermes fabrics for custom suiting and Edward Green footwear) Lardini, Altea and LBM – these last 3 brands are available myriad physical places, and on-line, but they’re nothing special or exclusive. I understand that Degand is a multi-brand shop, but I’m curious to know how a world-class stockist balances the high and the low (Brioni and LBM co-existing?).

It’s also confusing how a single store can undertake such a costly renovation, have lesser brands that might water down the store’s cache, spread itself so thin (staff and resource wise) that it can also open a restaurant and a hotel as an “afterthought” of the menswear retail space…?

I think it’s worth looking at and figuring out, as – in many ways – Pierre Degand seems to embody the lifestyle that the Rake magazine so boldly promotes, but is now undermining through its monthly tome-turned-catalog.

Phil

Glad to see there’s another outlet for Connolly. It’s a terrific shop, and the staff are lovely, but I actually feel a bit uncomfortable going in. I’m usually the only customer, and as it’s pretty small, and the staff (rightly) attentive, I tend to feel a little self-conscious (very British I know, but there you are). My normal habit is to go into a shop and browse, and if I see something decent, go away and think about it, then return and try it on, when I know there’s a fair chance I’ll buy it. That’s easier to do in larger shops, or department stores, where there are more people about, and you don’t feel so watched. I almost never buy on a first visit. Don’t trust myself.

Anonymous

I accept embedded links (a referral aid to the reader, news sites are an example) but do not argue for paid-for embedded links: they can be distinct from each other. As a long term reader I fully understand PS’ position, the issue is ‘mission creep’ where articles such as this encroach upon the editorial promise. Why? Because there is no critical aspect to the review, it’s a soft sell of an advertiser’s site and product content. I think if you had no relationship with them the issues that others raise may have been queried (e-commerce issues, product volume, site presentation, quality of images etc).

Chris

Agree that The Rake has a great selection but do you think their customer service is good? I ordered an A&S cardigan from them and it arrived quickly but wasn’t quite right so I decided to return it. Their policy is that you request a return by emailing or calling them but I’ve tried both multiple times and they are ignoring me. I have a cardigan I have paid but don’t want and cannot return it! Have I been unlucky? Have others had good experiences?

AW

Chris, see my comments above. I couldn’t get my order return processed until I reached out through facebook. Try that. Phones and emails went into what felt like a bitbucket.

Anonymous

Thanks for this response Simon – a very clear explanation and one that now shifts my understanding of the article’s intent.

Matthius Su’uch

Their customer service is hopeless – slow responses, and I have previously been sent the wrong items.

Shaun

I have had a frustrating experience of ordering from the Rake. On my first 3 orders my payment was taken and after waiting a couple of weeks with no updates I contacted them only to be told the items were not available. On the 4th attempt at another order I did eventually receive the item after a wait of 3 weeks. I really like the Rake as a magazine and resource but wasn’t impressed with the shopping experience.

Winot

I have ordered a few things from the Rake and thankfully have had a better experience than other posters. However, they are not a patch on Mr Porter when it comes to the ordering process. For example, you cannot filter by size, and they have hardly any stock for the larger gentleman (I am an Italian 56). I can understand why they might decide to limit stock but improving the search function can’t be that difficult.

John

I’ve had great experiences ordering from The Rake. Can’t beat the prices and shipping is thrown in to boot. That ain’t half bad if you ask me. Besides, I’m thankful to have a place I can buy some of these things Simon goes on about. The ONLY issue I have with The Rake is their lack of model shots. Ok, their sizing info is woefully lacking too. MrP tops them on that stuff for sure. All in all very nice. Still doing a great job Simon. Keep up the good work.

Jason

My experience with The Rake online shop has been horrendous. Bought an item, didn’t like it, tried to return it and nobody EVER answered the phone or returned my emails. Terrible system. Happened a second time and I will now no longer use them. Took me weeks and weeks to get a refund. Avoid unless you absolutely know you will love what you are buying.

Christopher Davies

Hi Simon,
Any comments from you about the customer service? There is a danger that being associated with a site with poor customer service will reflect poorly on you site.

Muslim

Simon,

Do you have any experience with Belsire? Thoughts?

Thank you.

Oliver

I have ordered from them twice. The first time the wrong shirt arrived (correct brand / style but wrong cloth even if the label on the box said exactly what was in the box). It took ca two weeks and multiple emails / phone calls to arrange the return and receive the correct shirt. Frustrating. The second time everything worked flawlessly – received the white Santillo white linen shirt that is wonderful.

Steve

I’ve been a subscriber to the magazine & used to love it, however feel it’s gone very commercial & slowly down hill over the last year.
Their online shop however has gone rapidly down hill. Their packaging has never been great for example a £3k+ Sciamat blazer that was a collaboration with the Rake, simply arrived on a hanger in a bag – not great !
However my recent order has been horrendous, all items were showing in stock & yet 6 weeks later I am still waiting for half my order & out of the stuff that did arrive the trousers were wrong & they sent 2 identical shirts.
They never answer the telephone, literally never ! & it takes a week for them to return an email saying they will find out where the rest of the order is & then another week later I have still not had a reply.
A complete disgrace, if I were the owner I would feel very embarrassed to be constantly photographed around the world spending his customers money while they are clearly suffering terrible service. Interestingly their Trust Pilot reviews seem to echo the experience of the readers of Permanent Style, I wish I had read those first !

William

Hi Simon, what size did you wear in the driving sweater? Looks great, hoping to pick one up if they release a version this year

Cheers