This year, Ted Baker London celebrates 25 years of designing impeccably tailored pieces infused with wit and whimsy. The quintessentially British brand got its start with men’s shirting, but it quickly branched out to include women’s clothing, shoes and accessories—all of it designed with a dash of Ted’s signature quirky charm.
Ray Kelvin, the man behind the brand, is one interesting fellow. After spending a quarter of a century as a globetrotting style innovator, he’s racked up some pretty great stories. We were able to snag a moment with Ray and learn more about fashion, tea and meeting royalty.
The Thread: You never have your entire face photographed, which seems incredibly difficult to do—is there a story behind this?
Ray Kelvin: To be honest, what started out as a way to push credit back to the amazing Ted team has now become a bit of a game for me! Seriously speaking, it’s not just about me—at Ted, we’re a big team and really like one big family.
You were appointed as a CBE in 2011. Congratulations! What was it like meeting the Queen?
RAY: A humbling experience. She’s a stylish lady and has a real presence—I hope I get the chance to meet her again.
Pink Perfection: Ted Baker London Tuxedo Jacket, Tuxedo Trousers, Crepe Top in Bright Pink, ‘Jaxine 3’ Pump in Pink Patent
What made you take that first leap into womenswear?
RAY: I like to make women feel good! I’ve always known incredible, strong women who love to get dressed—to effortlessly put an outfit together and make no apologies for their feminine style and adoration of pretty things. Ted girls know what they want, and I make it my business to offer them just that.
Budding Style: Ted Baker London Stripe A-Line Dress in Bright Pink
Who is the Ted Baker woman?
RAY: While there is no one kind of Ted Baker woman—after all, each lady is a complete individual—it’s safe to say that she is smart and confident and appreciates the finer things in life… and has a cheeky sense of humor, that’s for sure.
Country Chic: Ted Baker London ‘Wallpaper’ Print Silk Blend Cardigan & Pleated A-Line Dress
Can you explain some of the inspiration behind your latest collection?
RAY: Inspiration comes from absolutely everywhere. For me, a trip to somewhere new can trigger something that trickles into one of the collections—it could be the beautiful hue of a sunset that you’ll find dancing over dresses, or part of an industrial landscape that we’ll work into a print. For SS13, there’s a feeling of being neat and prim for the women’s collection—harking back to a time of feminine elegance and sumptuous global travel.
What excites you in terms of style?
RAY: Every day, dressing up, finding new ways to incorporate the little things into outfits. Is the collar turned up or laid flat on a man’s jacket? Has this lady decided to match or clash her heels? What are the proportions? What country did the prints originate in? I am sucker for scrutinizing every last detail—all notes of style are important, and I love for clothes to tell a story.
We’ve heard you like to dole out hugs. Is there one person you want to hug who you haven’t?
RAY: I do sometimes think, “If only I’d hugged the Queen.” What a story that would’ve been. Generally, though, I’ll hug when the mood takes me, which is often. I’d quite like to plant one on everybody who’s ever worn Ted Baker, so watch out!
Last question: how do you take your tea?
RAY: Now there’s a question. It has to be very hot, very strong (two-tea-bags strong), and in a classic mug—one that’s not too thick, not too thin. A dash of milk with a sugar to sweeten, then add a couple of biscuits, and I’m a happy man!
Join Ray as he flashes back on his adventures around the world during the last 25 years. One lucky stylista will have a chance to win a trip of a lifetime. Come fly with Ted!
Photos courtesy of Ted Baker