Ted Baker celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and to mark the occasion has launched a limited edition collection, featuring everything from floor-length gowns to ivory cropped jackets. To reflect the British company’s international presence, the high street label has organised three competitions to win one of three far-flung holidays, to the US, Asia and Scotland – the location of the brand’s first store.
“From day one our ethos has remained the same,” Ted Baker founder Ray Kelvin said. “The message hasn’t changed – we just want to better yesterday in terms of performance. I always wanted to create great clothes that were affordable. Most people can make nice clothes that are expensive, it’s more of a challenge to make good quality products that people can afford.”
Born in London, Kelvin began his career working at his uncle’s menswear store at the age of 11. He founded Ted Baker because of his desire to produce the “man or woman in the street” fashion-forward, well-made clothing that “doesn’t cost the earth”. His priorities are people, passion and products.
Today, the brand has stores in 35 countries around the world, from New Zealand and Australia to Hong Kong and Singapore. Kelvin believes that his employees are integral to the company’s success.
“I hug my colleagues every day,” he said. “I hug the store staff, everyone. They’re all fantastic ambassadors for the brand. I make it my business to get to know everyone – I give them all nicknames, so I remember people’s names. I want to give them a real career – a teducation as we call it. It’s all just one big hug.”
Despite his business achievements, Kelvin has never been a fan of the limelight. He seldom gives interviews and refuses to have his picture taken – making sure his face in photos is always obscured in some way. It was through his wish to remain anonymous that the name Ted Baker developed.
“I didn’t want to use my real name,” he said. “I thought I’d be a failure. I could have gone bankrupt, then my name would have always been associated with a failed company. I’m camera-shy too, that sort of thing isn’t what I’m about. Also, I’m ugly – I don’t want to see my picture everywhere. I’m funny though, which helps.”
In terms of the future, Kelvin has ambitions to enter the food industry.
“I love cooking, so I’d like to go down that avenue,” he said. “Maybe we could do a small hotel. There’s nothing in the plan, but who knows. I just want to continue this journey and do more of the same, but better.”