Ted Baker: A history

First published: 12-08-2014

Ted Baker was the brainchild of fashion designer Ray Kelvin, who made his first foray into this industry at the age of 11 when he worked for his uncle's menswear store in Enfield.

The company produces men's and women's clothes and accessories, including watches. In 2013, it had a revenue of £321.9 million, an increase of 26.5 per cent.

Mr Kelvin, who grew up in North London, opened his first store in 1988 in Glasgow under the name Ted Baker, having developed the brand the year before. This name simply came up in conversation and the designer decided to adopt it for his business.

Shortly afterwards, locations opened in Manchester, Plymouth and Nottingham, with a London store being launched in 1990. 

In an interview with You and Us, Mr Kelvin stated: "I never wanted to be the face of the brand or the focus for what I wanted to build so chose to create the brand hero to pin it all upon instead and it's one of the best decisions I've ever made."

The first stores used to provide a special laundry service for anyone who had bought clothing from Ted Baker. 

While the brand is enjoying success now, the first seven years of business were tough. Speaking to the Telegraph, Mr Kelvin conceded he used to sleep on the shop's floors and drive the stock to Manchester himself because he couldn't afford to pay transport companies to do this task for him.

However, a milestone for the company came in the middle of the 1990s when a certain shirt was designed that really gained traction. This came during the Acid House and Garage era, with "bright acidy colour shirts".

Mr Kelvin reminisced about the time when the public used to queue down the street to pick up one of these shirts on a Saturday, likening the situation to that of "a famine".

One trademark move by the company is not to advertise. The name has been spread through word of mouth and other unconventional methods, such as Paxo stuffing at Christmas and a can of chocolate bunny hotpot for Easter. 

This came about because the management team decided against doing what everyone else did, but instead had the ability to inject money into different aspects that customers could engage with. 

The company prides itself on being "one of the only brands to be built into an international designer label without an advertising campaign." Mr Kelvin attributes the success of the company down to how strong the brand is and how the focus is unashamedly on design. 

Celebrities who have donned the apparel of Ted Baker include former Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and Kate Middleton. 


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