Women's Fashion | The Cult Shop

Katherine Hooker

Custom-made tweed coats and jackets that cut a flattering, lean silhouette.

March 11 2010
Charlotte Metcalf

On a lonely corner, a good walk away from the bustle of King’s Road, is Katherine Hooker’s shop. It’s an unlikely location for one of London’s most sought-after ateliers but her customers, who include Jerry Hall, Sarah Brown and Kate Middleton, are happy to make the trip.

Hooker specialises in exquisite tweed coats, jackets and waistcoats. The secret to Hooker’s cut is that her clothes are narrow-shouldered and fitted under the armpits, providing a long, lean and flattering silhouette.

Hooker’s inspiration came from a coat she found when she was 18 in a Jerusalem junk shop: “It was black silk and made for a 14-year-old Hasidic boy. It was cut high under the armpits and just looked amazing on. I wore it to death.” When the coat finally wore out, Hooker went on holiday to India and had a paper pattern and six coats made up. She returned home, bought some tweed from Savile Row then tried to find a tailor, but the prices were too high. Then an apprentice told her to look for clothing manufacturers instead.

“I got out the Yellow Pages and went to see the first one I came across off Commercial Road,” she says. “I felt like a detective. I went through this green door, up the stairs and there was Malik. He’s still making my coats today.” Thus Hooker’s classic “braid coat”, the foundation of her flourishing business, was born. Today her coats retail from £490 to about £650. When Clare Balding wore a braid coat while presenting the Grand National, she was voted “best-dressed television presenter” by The Guardian.

Hooker’s jackets start at £385 and waistcoats at £280. She also sells tweed accessories – fingerless buttoned mittens (£32), cashmere snoods with tweed buttons (£85), gaiters with buttons and leather trim (£50) and Shorpy hats (£85), and she’s about to start making smaller items including tweed iPod covers.

When I visit the shop, Hooker’s dachshund, Pretzel, barks noisily as I enter and Natasha Caine is trying on a scarlet coat. It’s like going into Hooker’s private sitting room. “The biggest claim on my time is the ages people take making up their minds,” says Hooker. And with so much delectable tweed and a rainbow array of linings, braids and trim, it’s not surprising.

What a Katherine Hooker coat offers is that it’s semi-bespoke but at an astonishingly reasonable price. “If my coats were made by a tailor they’d cost thousands,” she says. “Malik means my coats are custom-made but affordable. They look good on everyone and tap into people’s individuality. When people wear my coats they’re often stopped in the street and asked where they’re from” – the very definition of a cult following.