Inside Ted Baker London, the indie fashion empire that could. BY LAURA deCARUFEL
Ray Kelvin is known as fashion’s invisible man: He rarely gives interviews, and in all of his online pix, his face is obscured by a teapot, a large bass or, in one memorable 2011 shot, the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) award he was given by the Queen for his service to the fashion industry. A similar
reserve informed Kelvin’s 1988 decision to found his business, then a single Glasgow shirt shop, under the moniker“Ted Baker,” rather than his own name. (“If it had failed, I would not have been able to handle it,” he once told The
Telegraph. He needn’t have worried: That shop is now a global mega-brand worth $1.2 billion.) In person, however, the invisible man is a complete chatterbox. He talks
in paragraphs, calls out warmly to staff as they walk by and proffers compliments, jokes and hugs—lots of hugs. (A green circle on the floor beside his desk indicates the “Hug Zone.”) “I just love these people,” he says of his team.
We’re having lunch at his office, a sprawling Camden compound whose nondescript brown-brick exterior belies its inside charm: Outfitted like a Ted Baker shop, it’s all warm and vintage-y, with mismatched orange chairs,
glass lamps and bookshelves. The airy second floor overlooks the atrium, where staff sit at picnic tables enjoying the free noontime meal of grilled salmon and quinoa
salad. This is headquarters for the brand, which has stores in more than 34 countries, including an already beloved Canadian outpost that opened two years ago at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre. “That store is Ted Baker teamed
up with England’s Giffords Circus for its quirky, colourful s/s ’14 campaign.