Christmas rapidly approaches, and I’ve barely made a dent in my shopping. I troll websites during quiet moments at work and bundle up on Saturday shopping trips, where I am inevitably distracted by the call of my own ever-growing wish list. I even consulted In Style’s guilt-free gift guide (for a mere $275, you can get your Mother a necklace every other woman will be wearing come January). I felt guilty for looking, besides my Mom is the least of my problems. Like most women, she will be delighted by jewelry, makeup, clothing or any remotely appealing accessory.
In the excruciating world of gift-giving, men are decidedly more complicated than women, and the men in my family are the worst. I can’t put my finger on Dad or Brew’s music, Caldwell’s latest travels or which philosopher Jeff is currently contemplating, but I have been able to provide some nice articles of clothing over the years, particularly since I began shopping in England.
Besides offering something unfamiliar, even exotic, British menswear is also better tailored and more interesting than its American counterpart. We can thank James Bond for tailored sophistication and Hugh Grant for encouraging American men to wear pink. For the anglophile, or anyone who favors clean-cut attire, English dress shirts are particularly covetable. Intimidation aside, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed exploring Thomas Pink, Hackett, Alfred Dunhill’s and a string of lesser known stores that line pristine Jermyn Street.
Those shirts, whether bespoke or off the peg, lack viable American counterparts. Chain stores like Banana Republic sell quality-made products at reasonable prices, which are fine for everyday work apparel but drab for special occasions. Even Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers, who offer more stylish menswear, lack the subtle sophistication and nuanced tailoring that have been honed over centuries on Jermyn Street. To date, finding a truly comparable product in the US has required access to stores like Neiman Marcus and Saks, not to mention a sizable budget. Grasping this disparity, two frustrated American expats determined to learn more about English shirt-making.
Paul Trible and Paul Watson commenced by meeting with one of London’s premier shirt-makers. A string of probing questions were followed by brainstorming sessions in Notting Hill pubs, pushing their initially undeveloped idea towards an entrepreneurial endeavor. Having just completed their MBAs at Oxford, the two Pauls decided to turn away from intended careers in finance; instead, they got to work on Ledbury.
Trible and Watson have explained their Ledbury philosophy, “we are building a brand based on the core values of great fit and superb quality. We think that a few well-made items are better than many that are not, and that although quality and attention to detail are not inexpensive, they do not always have to come with an exorbitant price tag. Our goal is to set trend aside and make great fitting, high-quality shirts that can be worn in any setting and by any generation.”
Their shirts, ranging in price from $115 to $135, utilize a more tailored fit than most American dress shirts, and their slim fit shirts particularly accomplish this goal. Ledbury also innovates by separately sewing on each shirt’s collar to ensure that they hold their form even when worn beneath a jacket or coat.
The line just launched this November, and the result is thus far focused and successful. To learn more about Ledbury or purchase a shirt, visit its website or home base in Richmond, Virginia.