Tom Chamberlin sits across from me in the bright, bay window of the elaborate India Room at Mark’s Club, Mayfair. As you would expect from the editor of one of the most successful men’s magazines of the 21st century, the statuesque Chamberlin is impeccably turned out – sporting a grand Terry Haste double-breasted pinstripe suit, playfully offset with flashes of red and high-shine loafers by G.J. Cleverley.
The 33-year-old’s passion for presentation can be easily traced back to his father – a cavalry officer. Although Chamberlin decided against joining the ranks, officers’ dress always held a familiar allure, with its decorative tailoring, bright, well-polished accoutrements and, of course, a good dose of pomp and grandeur.
Inevitably, Chamberlin found his way into the men’s style fold, via a role at Finch’s Quarterly Review. It was here that Editor, Nick Foulkes, took the young journalist under his wing, mentoring him on all things style and substance (they still speak once a week), prior to him taking the reins at The Rake in 2014.
How would you describe your style?
I dress classically, but with a hint of show. I don’t dress like the archetypical Englishman, as it’s not really proper to use colour and patterns, which I love doing.
I dress classically, but with a hint of show.
My style isn’t necessarily adventurous. I’m a self conscious guy. When I was younger, I’d go to the pub and I’d be wearing jeans and T-shirt like everyone else, but I’d have stolen a pair of my father’s shoes. It was really important for me to be the smartest person in the room. It made me feel much more comfortable, and I still bring that to the table every day.
It’s a therapeutic style, in a way.
What are the most important pieces in your wardrobe?
As everyone involved with bespoke knows, it’s incredibly addictive, and your favourite piece tends to be your latest one. You become obsessed with it for three months or so – having that ‘thing’ becomes a big rush.
Terry Haste is my tailor, and recently he said, “Tom you’re so ******* boring, you only wear navy and grey. So, we looked through some fabrics together and I had a couple of blazers made in a windowpane check in grey and green. We are now at the stage where we can play a bit - we have a bit of an experiment.
I also have a pair of bespoke Cleverley’s – for me, bespoke shoemaking is the very peak of bespoke.
Who is your biggest style influence?
Nick Foulkes has been a key style influence – he knows more about proportion and the use of colour than most of the designers and stylists working today, and that I definitely gleaned from him. There are a lot of opinions out there but if someone is really looking for the best tailors and shoemakers, the Nick Foulkes seal of approval is by far the most authoritative.
Image by The Rake: Nick Foulkes
What are your most treasured possessions?
I have a number of treasured possessions. My wedding rings– I wear two, and there’s a story behind both of them. The bigger one is from Cartier, but I bought my wife a thin gold band for her to wear when we went to Morocco before we got married (we decided not to take the engagement ring). And it looked really chic and cool, so I went and got two made by Wartski.
Image by The Rake
My collection of cigars is also hugely treasured. I have couple of humidors and I’m very careful with my collection.
The backgammon board my father gave me is also very dear to me. It is a 30-year-old blue leather-lined board that you wouldn’t be able to find any more. I think the world’s problems could be solved over a game of backgammon.
The best piece of life advice you’ve ever been given?
One from my wife: if you trip over yourself you can either stay down and cry or stand up and take a bow.”
What sets The Rake apart from other gentleman’s publications?
Well it got there first. The market for men’s luxury is huge, but no one had done anything about it. The offering for men who were affluent, who were stylish, who had taste, who wanted to spend money and were in a place in their career where they can pay their mortgage, have a family and buy themselves a nice watch or a nice suit. Then, if we all live to 100, there is another 60 years of time and salary to fill after that. But nobody was offering them anything.
In 2008 The Rake came along, founded by Wei Koh, who was one of these guys that didn’t feel represented by any of the magazines that purported to be for men. Potential readers of The Rake grew up with Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart, a time where men were still relevant and cool when they were in your forties, but there wasn’t really anything like that on offer any more, it became so much more about your six pack and youthfulness, so The Rake decided to fill this gap, which is why it has been successful.
Pictured left to right: The Rake issue 67 & The Rake issue 64
So, what’s in the pipeline?
April will be our Bond issue – all I’ll say is that I’ve seen other magazines’ Bond covers coming out and ours is the best so far, so I’m very excited.
... I’ve seen other magazines’ Bond covers coming out and ours is the best so far...
Who’s your money on for the next Bond?
I hope it isn’t James Norton. I’ve got nothing against him, but it’s too obvious.
Part of me thinks it needs to be someone no one’s ever heard of – if they did a real dig about and found a hidden gem. It’s Bond, they don’t need a huge name to market the thing so that would be my idea.
What do you think of Ettinger’s new Burlington?
These days, unless you’re a lawyer with enormous case files to bring to the high court, you don’t need an enormous briefcase. Luxury for me is the bridge between art and practicality, and heavy stuff just isn’t practical anymore for the commuter. People who buy luxury are using the same modes of transport as everyone else. The Burlington Briefcase finds that middle road between something that’s really beautiful and something that’s practical – it’s hit the mark perfectly.
And are you an Ettinger fan?
Ettinger products put quality before quantity. It’s a really good starting point. There is so much crap in the industry and leather can be difficult for your layman to see and identify as rubbish.
It is to Ettinger’s credit that you create really beautiful leather goods. And with the heritage and craftsmanship to back it up and carry it through.
I have Ettinger bookmarks for my boys and I have the limited edition Ettinger X Rory Dobner Notebook, which I use every day. When our Chief Sub-Editor had a baby I wanted to buy him something really special, so I naturally turned to Ettinger.