Edit: The paragraphs below were an accurate representation of The Rake magazine at the time of writing. Unfortunately, since then, the content has moved towards a more fashion focused narrative and has lost virtually a lot of it’s appeal for me. So much so that I no longer read it. For a brief while though, we had a wonderful publication with a focus on timeless style. I put Nick in a separate category to all this, as his own writing remains interesting and of high quality.
For the last several years, The Rake has become an invaluable resource to thousands of men worldwide, myself included. The simplest explanation I can offer to highlight what differentiates The Rake from every other publication (such as GQ, Esquire and the like) is that whilst they fall firmly in to the category of “Men’s Magazines”, The Rake is the only publication which I would classify as a “Gentlemen’s Magazine”.
Wei Koh, The Rake’s Founder, has provided an excellent platform for helping men to increase their understanding on the finer points of being a gentleman, dressing well and, in addition, providing countless insights on fine menswear, tailoring and genuine craftsmanship in all its forms.
Last month marked the launch of their first international edition and Nick Scott; Editor-In-Chief was kind enough to agree to an interview, which I’ve transcribed below.
For the benefit of what’s to follow, it’s probably easiest to imagine us sitting beside a fireplace in burgundy leather Chesterfields, whiskey and cigars in hand…. It was nothing like that… we did it over email, oceans…. But you can’t tell me the former imagery doesn’t help the reading experience.
What do you feel helps to differentiate The Rake from other publications for men and why do you feel it has continued to grow?
A lot of men’s magazines seem to have great intentions, and a well-devised underlying ethos, but then ultimately succumb to commercially-induced temptations – raunchy (and arguably misogynistic) covers; shouty, primary-coloured design values; enthrallment to vacuous celebrities and so on. Of course we want The Rake to fly off the shelves, but we believe in garnering a solid, loyal following who become devoted to our editorial sophistication, rather than pursuing bar-code scans in the short term via tacky means. Other men’s magazines, particularly those with style as their main focus, go too much the other way and go for self-consciously arty: the result is usually affected and ultimately effete. We like our magazine to have a sense of humour – after all, sophisticated gents like a laugh just as much as puerile frat boys do.
What has been your best experience in working for the magazine?
Answering this question puts me in danger of attracting lewd hand signals: I’ve recently been on a snow-driving course with Giuseppe Santoni and AMG in Arctic Sweden; I’ve driven Bentleys and Aston Martins through the deserts of California, watched classic yacht races from yachts in the Bay Of Naples courtesy of our friends at Panerai and met fascinating people from (deserving) celebrities through to captains of various luxury industries… So in a spirit of feigned modesty, I’m going to cite something gritty, worthy and office based instead – putting out our first international issue, last month, to huge acclaim.
What things are on your wish list for the future of The Rake (be they features, men to profile, or the magazines direction)?
We have some fascinating features in the pipeline, which I can’t say too much about yet – sizzling profiles of powerful dynasties, profiles of unique and compelling style icons, think pieces which contribute to making the word “essay” cool again… And I’d love to get Daniel Craig on the cover. He knows he wants to.
What have you learned from Wei Koh about style?
Plenty, especially given that my pre-Rake career involved magazines which were firmly in the “fashion” camp, whereas The Rake is all about timeless elegance: a very different sartorial concept. During my time at the helm of the publication, I’ve come to understand far more about the extent to which healthy bravado – not just knowing the rules, but knowing when to break them – is key to achieving a gentlemanly, elegant but striking look.
What do you feel are the reasons for the growing resurgence in more men taking an interest in their appearance and style?
“Metrosexualisation” (horrible word) of men’s culture was a knee-jerk reaction to new-laddism, which itself was a knee-jerk reaction to feminism. The renaissance in classical men’s elegance is a reaction – and not a knee-jerk one, but a dignified, overdue, worthy and ultimately permanent one – against those two lamentable phases in male culture. With the help of the information age – the internet has created a ubiquity of consensus on numerous subjects – men, collectively, the developed world over, have woken up and realised that their well-mannered, steak-eating, tache-clipping, four-in-hand-knot-tying fathers and grandfathers were onto something. Thus, men have begun conducting ourselves with more old-school virility and aplomb. Dressing elegantly and masculinity is just one strand of this.
What are 2 items not currently in your wardrobe that you would like to own and why?
A denim, double-breasted casual jacket I saw Lapo Elkann wearing once; a decent, made-to-measure raincoat – misplaced optimism about the weather seems to continually prevent me from filling this void.
Where did your passion for clothing and style originate?
When my brother introduced me to Eighties mod three-piece The Jam. The cover of their News Of The World album depicts a perfect fusion of smart and casual: I was seduced immediately.
Who are your style icons and why?
Paul Weller remains one – a lot of style commentators think he’s growing old disgracefully, due to the fact that he’s sticking to a mod haircut as he approaches his late Fifties, but if you check out his garments, they’re consistently well-appointed. A second one is Lapo Elkann, who once told me that every single garment he owns is bespoke “because I don’t let people corrupt my soul – not creatively, not personally.” His wardrobe is also full of meticulously tailored hand-me-downs from his grandfather, Gianni Agnelli (aka The Rake Of The Riviera), after whom our magazine is named.
How would you summarise your own personal style?
Imagine Bertie Wooster were to travel forward in time by three decades, and apply his debonair flamboyance to the pre-beach fight dance hall scene in Sixties Brighton: that’s the look I’d aspire to.
How has that style evolved over the years?
Sporadically. In fits and bursts, with my spell at The Rake being easily the biggest burst.
If you were to give one piece of advice to men about how to dress more elegantly, what would it be?
I’m going to cheat and give three: 1) “Fashion” and “style” are as different as “infatuation” and “love”. 2) how you look should be an outer manifestation of the class that lies beneath (compare Stephen Fry to Jeremy Clarkson). 3) spending the odd ordinary day wearing a tux will make you feel more natural in it during formal occasions.
End of interview.
For those new to The Rake, subscriptions can be organised online http://therakeonline.com/
Back issues can be found here: http://therakeonline.com/back-issues/
Personally, as I was introduced to The Rake a couple of years after it’s first publication, I’ve found the back issues to be enormously valuable. As they are back issues, they’re offered at a significant discount, making it a worthwhile option for anyone who has missed out on earlier editions.