Only a decade ago, fashion brands were tentative in their embrace of the Internet. Now many, like Ledbury, look first to the Web when searching for a platform to reach customers. With its mission to take traditional English tailoring and inject it with a distinctly American sense of ease, the company started with high-quality shirting and has since expanded.
We caught up with Designer and Founder Paul Trible to find out more about the Ledbury’s origins, where they are now, and where they’re headed. Read our exclusive Q&A and shop Paul’s fall picks below.
Lyst: What were you doing before you founded Ledbury, and what led you to starting the company?
Paul: My background is in the non-profit world. I ran medical missions in Africa and Asia for a children’s charity and was based out of London. I ended up in graduate school at Oxford in 2007 where I met my business partner Paul (yes - we are both named Paul).
Ironically, we were both heading into finance, but graduated the day before Lehman Brothers went under, so plans changed.
I always loved clothes, and after years in London, I had become spoiled by the access London provided to a handful of the best tailors. I loved going to a specialist like the shirtmakers on Jermyn Street and got excited about the idea of creating an American shirtmaker that really focused on fit and quality.
It got to the point where I was staying up all night just thinking about it – so one day I approached the tailor who was making my shirts and told him that I wanted to work under him and learn the shirtmaking business. He thought I was crazy, but we ended up meeting for a beer. We met again the next week and the week after and, eventually, he said agreed to teach me. So I stopped interviewing for jobs and spent the better part of a year working with him, learning about fabrics, stitching, collars, cuffs and what makes a great shirt. I somehow convinced my business partner that we should get into the clothing business. At night, we would meet in the back of a pub on Ledbury Road to work on getting it launched.
L: At it’s core, what is Ledbury all about? Who is the Ledbury guy?
PT: Ledbury is all about making clothes that fit better, feel better and last longer than anything else in the closet. I feel like that is what most men are looking for.
The Ledbury guy is classic in his styling and modern in his fit. When people look him, I don’t think they say “what a great outfit,” but rather that guy really “dresses well.” I think that gives him an understated confidence in his style. I had a customer tell me the other day tell me he called his Ledbury shirts “special occasion clothing” because it is what he wore for all the big occasions in his life. I loved that.
L: You’ve broken down your shirting business into three tenets: fit, innovation, and quality. What is Ledbury doing to raise the standards on these three fronts?
PT: We are obsessive about fit and fabrics and the role those two things play in making a great garment.
On fit, we offer a both a classic and slim fit shirt in everything we do. But, even our classic fit uses less fabric in the waist and torso to create a more flattering look.
On quality, we only use Italian-woven fabrics and mother-of-pearl buttons. All of our production takes place either in Europe or the United States.
In terms of innovation, we have made a few minor changes like the lowered second button, preventing the shirt from being buttoned too high or too low, and a fused collar to keep it from collapsing. Nothing revolutionary, but alterations that men notice and end up loving once they try them on.
L: Tell us about your expansion into blazers, knits and accessories. Was that the plan from the beginning? What else can we expect from you?
PT: We have always been very focused on being a specialist and doing one thing incredibly well. What we found is that the customers who loved the fit and quality of our shirts started asking for blazers, sweaters and accessories. So we put a lot of time in creating unique pieces that really complement our shirting collection. So far, the response has been great, and we are growing the collection one piece at a time.
L: How would you describe your personal style?
PT: I once had a girlfriend that said that I dressed like a professor. My closet is filled with well-crafted pieces that will hopefully last a generation. I like to think that makes me classic, but in the end my girlfriend may have been right.
L: What are your winter essentials?
PT: Moleskin pants, a brushed cotton shirt, a donegal sports coat.
L: What key pieces should every man have in his closet?
PT: A well-worn pair of boots, a vintage watch, a grey blazer and a whole lot of shirts…
Many thanks to Paul for sitting down to chat with us! Shop his fall picks here and don’t forget to follow Ledbury for more must-have menswear.