'Building the Channel Tunnel is the greatest thing we've ever done' - Robert Emmett

MY LIFE/STYLE: The founder of Emmett shirts on the faded glory of Rome, the classical trumpet of Maurice Andre and the hidden gems of London.

by Adam Gale
Last Updated: 08 Apr 2015


I’m up at 7am and have my four kids out by 7.30am. After a long walk around nearby Battersea Park in my Timberland boots, I head across the road to my shop on the King’s Road, Chelsea, or take my 50cc Vespa Piaggio if I’m working in my other three stores. It’s the perfect way to get around London. I’ll spend 90 minutes reading emails, then push the computer away. It can be distracting, like a television in the pub.

Design only takes up five or six weeks a year. The rest is running a business. I wear my own shirts, socks, jackets and coats, with JN Weston shoes. I’m not a sociable man, but sometimes we hold taster evenings for clients, where I add to my wine belly with Tuscan reds and Appenzeller cheese from Paxton & Whitfield.


My wife Daniela’s cooking is fabulous, particularly her ossobuco made with Grace’s home-pressed olive oil. You can’t beat Italian as everyday food. I trained in classical French cuisine at l’Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne as a young man, but rarely have time to cook. When I do I use Kai knives, made with Japanese folded steel.

My iPhone 6 has 30,000 songs, which I often play in the background. There’s a lot of jazz and classical trumpet: Thelonious Monk, Ahmed Jamal and Maurice André. London is the best metropolis on the planet, with lots of hidden gems. I love galleries like Niklas von Bartha’s, and I go to the V&A Museum every couple of weeks, exploring one area at a time.


Sydney was the ideal place to grow up, but I love Rome for its faded glory, the crumbling architecture interspersed with little enotecas and restaurants. I’m often in Italy for business, and I like to stay in the Hotel Locarno near the Piazza del Poppolo.

There’s also a great olde worlde hotel in Davos-Klosters, where my wife’s from, called the Chesa Grischuna. I lived in Switzerland for 12 years, so I do ski, but I prefer walking in the mountains during summer. I fly BA or Swiss Air and pack Muji bags. I also like taking the Eurostar to Paris. In two hours you’re in a city with great buildings and restaurants, if terrible service. Building that tunnel is the greatest thing we’ve ever done.


My dear old father lent me £20,000 in 1992 to set up my shop, and hit me with a 5% interest rate. I paid him back in full 10 years later. Shirts had been a hobby of mine as a boy, and my parents never discouraged me from making it a profession. I’ve been inspired for a long time by Albertelli, a little shop in Rome run by two old men who’ve been working at the art they love for 40 years.

There’s no compromise there. Technology captivated me when I was younger. I loved the science fiction of Asimov, and I’ve still got my Seiko 0634, the world’s first multifunction digital watch. My doctor in Switzerland was involved in the good work of Medicins Sans Frontiers, and I’ve supported them ever since.


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