News & Runway

Designer Dossier: Daks

Who designs for and what is Daks? A label whose history dates back to the 1930s and one whose well-crafted collections and understated elegance can easily be lost underneath more ostentatious labels. It's a mainstay British house that strives to gain the prestige and recognition it has in its own provenance. And one that, contrary to what one might expect, is expertly designed by an American. How did it all come about? 

In 1934, Alec Simpson expanded his men's tailoring business into his own menswear line. The name is a combination of the words "Dad" and "slacks." Over time, womenswear was added as well as great respect for such well thought out and well made clothing. Referred to in the fashion biz as a heritage brand, Daks has its own house check, a term that refers to a woven check pattern conceived and exclusively used by the label. Though America has been slow to respond and completely embrace Daks with household name status, it's had a grand reputation in Japan for some years. Perhaps that's the reason why in 1991 the Sankyo Seiko Group bought the label from the Simpson family with the intention of making it a global success. Since then, more than one designer has been at the helm: Giles Deacon is an alumn. 

The last few seasons and the current Fall/Spring seasons for 2012/13 have been designed by Sheila McKain-Waid who paid her dues working at Halston, Donna Karan and Oscar de la Renta. McKain-Waid studied at FIT and got her masters in textile design from the University of Kansas. Her collections for Daks have been well-received, as she seems to have a solid understanding of the kind of understated luxury that represents British fashion history. With each collection she's able to include that house check while still effecting a wearable, modern sensibility. When interviewed backstage for her Spring/Summer 2012 collection, she related who the Daks woman is: "She's elegant and understated, but loves to mix things up and has a playful side." You can't argue with that. And we can't either. See some of Daks' recent looks and share with your Anglophile fashion-loving friends.