Ledbury is a relative newcomer to the menswear shirting arena, but they are already making a substantial impact in the industry. They are eclipsing the competition by relying on three major principles: unwavering quality, a superior fit and complete transparency regarding all the minute details that factor into every Ledbury garment. Their shirts utilize the finest European fabrics from respected, deep-rooted Italian mills like Albini, and attention is put into oft-overlooked aspects of shirt making like creating a better-standing collars, and deciphering the perfect placement of placket buttons.We reached out to Ledbury’s co-founder Paul Trible to discuss their company’s winning shirt-making philosophy.
How did Ledbury come into being?
It was a combination of passion and desperation. I grew up in Virginia, and travelled around doing non-profit work all over the world and ended up in London for about 5 years. In London, I discovered an appreciation for clothes and tailoring and going to specialists who do one thing very well. I ended up going to business school in 2007, and my graduation was the day before Lehman Brothers went down. The global economy was in turmoil. I found myself unemployed and thinking about what to do next. I knew I had this love for clothes, and thought there was really no brand in the United States that got me excited with regards to specialty shirt making.
I knew a tailoring shop on Jermyn Street in London where I had been getting my shirts made for about 4 years, and I literally walked in off the street to him and told him about my idea of starting a shirt brand. The owner and I actually went to the same pub, and after a talk over some pints, he agreed to let me apprentice with him. He was my mentor for about 9 months, and he taught me the textile business and what goes into making a shirt with regards to fabric, fit and construction. I dragged a good friend of mine from Business school [Paul Watson], and we made our first collection of shirts, and came back to Richmond, Virginia in 2009 to launch a business.
Where does the name Ledbury come from?
In London, I was living in Notting Hill off of Ledbury road. My partner and I would work at the Jermyn Street shop during the day, and at night we would come to the pub on Ledbury and work on the shirts and our business plan. We thought it would be a place holder name, but it ended up working well so we kept it.
Who is the Ledbury man?
Most of our customers range from their late 20s through their 50s, and even older at times. I believe our customers are men who want quality and great fit. They want to look put together but not like they put together an outfit. They have an appreciation of clothes, but they don’t want to make a fashion statement. We also have men who are quite conservative but are interested in trying new fabrics and shirt constructions.
What do you think separates your shirts from the pack?
I think we came in at a lucky time. Men are starting to care more about how they appear, but they also care about where things are made, how it’s made, what the fabrics are, how long is going to last, etc. For us, we’re very open and honest about our shirts. We tell you where we source the fabrics, the mother-of-pearl buttons we use, the quality construction of 20-stitches per inch and so on. We never wanted to make shirts and put a logo on it and have people buy it because it was cool.
Also around the time we launched, we noticed luxury brands were outsourcing production to South East Asia, which is fine, but they weren’t being very honest about it. We knew we were onto something when we were able to work with small heritage Italian mills, and it was important to let people know the value they were getting from us. I believe relaying the all-around quality of our shirts to our customer sets us apart.
Are there expansions coming up for Ledbury?
We like being specialists and doing one thing really well. We do have some related dressing accessories already; belts, pocket squares, cufflinks, and ties made in Italy. We also have blazers and some sweaters too. We’ve found that when people trust us with the fit and quality of their shirt, they trust us with blazers and sweaters too.
What inspires you every day with your brand?
There’s something about the creative arch of a product – from staring at a swatch of fabric and seeing it through to completion and observing people around wearing it and enjoying your product. For me, it’s about making clothes you love, working with good people and seeing people love what you have made.
Tell us about how the Ledbury brand concept of melding the Southern gentleman influence with a European twist?
I think that’s a mix of growing up in the South and then living in London and developing a European sensibility. In the American South, there is a great sense of personal style; my grandfather would wear white suits to church on Sunday. There’s a similarity between that and European style – it’s just that in the South, there was never really a keen focus on a tailored fit like the Europeans. That’s where we come in. We’re trying to bring that mix of Southern gentleman style with a tailored approach.
For more, visit www.Ledbury.com