Men’s silk robes: The suit’s little brother

How a Dubai-based couple is reviving the tradition of the luxury robe -- and you don’t have to be Hugh Hefner to wear it

  • Robes by The London Robe Company at the World Luxury Expo at the Burj Al Arab, Dubai, January 2012. Zarina Fe Image Credit:
  • Robert Molenaar, Lorna and Geoff Young from the London Robe Company. Zarina Fernandes/ Gulfnews Image Credit:
Tabloid on Saturday

Silk dress robes for men? No, we aren’t asking you to channel your inner Hugh Hefner.

The London Robe Company, run by a Dubai-based couple, launched last week at the World Luxury Expo and aims to give something back to the hardworking gentlemen of today: to come home to a luxurious silk or rich velvet dress robe.

The Directory spoke to British couple Geoff and Lorna Young, who created the brand.

Tell us about the concept. How did it all come about?

Lorna Young: I wanted to buy a robe for Geoff and I wanted something elegant rather than a towelling one. I literally walked everywhere. I went to every store and couldn’t find what I was looking for.

Geoff Young: We went to the men’s market to start with and we had seen a few robes at Tom Ford for Dh30,000 and when we went back they had sold. We looked at the formalized versions and the more casual ones.

LY: And then I said to myself, “look let’s make one”. So that’s what we did, we went to tailors, sourced some designs and the first one we made was amazing and everybody loved it. When the robe was hanging in the tailors, some 8 or 9 Arab women came in and said that they must have one. That’s when we knew if we were struggling, others were too. So we started making the robes and started finding more designs. Initially we wanted to do polyester one but we decided to stick to silks and now we’ve progressed to velvets and brocades too. And before we knew it, we had a collection in our hands that we are really proud of. It’s unique and it’s different.

GY: We wanted a gentleman to put something on at home and look as good as he does out in his dapper suit.

How important is the bespoke element?

GY: My personal background was in menswear in Saville Row and German Street in London. The place where I learnt everything was all made to measure and also a product that was almost ready to wear: the cuffs were left open and we had to make minor adjustments to make sure that our customer looked as good and sharp as possible in their final outfit. We were very busy and had a lot of Arab customers at that time because of the high end, top quality. What we’ve managed to do here with the dressing robe is with more leniencies. If you want our large size, which is a European 50-54, we can make minor adjustments so that it all fits well. The only elements we might have to alter is the sleeve length, which is not a problem since you don’t have an open button as you would for a suit, and the waist, but we have a beautifully tailored shape which will complement any figure because you can adjust it with the belt. That’s the agility of the robe.

LY: We also do a large range of colours so if the customer sees something he likes and wants it in a different colour we can do it for him. We are very flexible if need be, even go to someone’s home to take measurements.

GY: It’s a very interesting situation with the colours and the fabrics. There’s the conservative customer who wants something in black, grey, dark blue and maroon as well. And then there’s the other customer who feels like he has to make a statement. He’s a more colourful character and would opt for something from our range of handloom silks. They come in a range of colours too: we go over to India and China to source material that they have a limited supply of. Not only is it exclusive in its manufacture -- it’s all handmade -- it’s also exclusive in terms of that you won’t see it anywhere else. And our customers, they are high end, appreciate that we stock something that is well tailored and that he has an amazing collection from velvet to plain silk to lavish and interesting brocade.

Tell us about the Knightsbridge collection.

LY: The Knightsbridge Collection is our first and we got inspiration from the gentlemen’s clubs of London through to the 40s, and 60s old Hollywood glamour. We’ve just launched at the World Luxury Robe; it’s been really well-received and we are currently working on our next one.

What does the future hold for the London Robe Company?

LY: The future is exciting: we are in talks with the major retail giants to have concessions in their stores. We also hope to take the robes to the US, China and Russia.

Prices start at Dh6,000 at thelondonrobecompany.com.