#MadeInRVA: Local luxury brand Ledbury creating shirts with skill and style

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Building on its nationwide success, luxury menswear brand Ledbury recently opened a flagship store in Richmond’s burgeoning Arts District on Broad Street.

There, customers can get shirts that are ready-to-wear or made-to-measure. The space also houses a bespoke workshop where they’re designing and creating on site.

“I think the shirt is mostly what’s in a man’s closet, and particularly nowadays when we’re getting away from a suit and tie,” said CEO Paul Trible. “It’s kind of like the shirt is almost the central expression piece in a man’s wardrobe.”

Trible showed 8News anchor Evanne Armour around the new shop.

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He says Ledbury’s focus is on fit and quality — and the team makes sure that’s what they’re providing from their home base in Richmond.

“We’ve grown as the city’s grown and it’s been the perfect place for us.”

The backstory

Trible and co-founder Paul Watson launched Ledbury in 2009. Watson serves as COO.

Ledbury co-founders Paul Trible and Paul Watson

While in business school in London, they were inspired by the fashion and craftsmanship they witnessed.

“I really fell in love with the clothes over there as well and the idea of going to a place like Savile Row where you get your suit made or Jermyn Street where you get your shirt made and this sort of European experience of going to a specialist who really does one thing really well when it comes to clothing,” said Trible.

When he’d come home, he’d have trouble replicating that experience — the fit, quality and price point. He thought maybe he could recreate it here.

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“Always in the back of my mind was, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be fun to really do this?'”

“The Pauls” soon got their chance. They graduated the day before Lehman Brothers collapsed. The jobs they had lined up suddenly disappeared.

Trible says he immediately came back to the idea of shirtmaking and starting a clothing business.

With no experience, he knocked on the door of a master tailor he used in London and asked if he could be an apprentice.

“After about three meetings, he finally agreed,” said Trible. “I went in the very first day and he said, ‘Here’s a shirt. Take it apart, put it back together — this is really what goes into the craft of shirtmaking.'”

Trible and Watson worked for nine months studying shirtmaking and learning the business before it was time for them to try their hand at it in Virginia.

The Richmond connection

pantsThey landed in Richmond in December of 2009 and launched Ledbury.

A Newport News native, Trible says his sister — who was living in Richmond at the time — opened his eyes to the city.

“She was like, ‘You have to come and check out Richmond.’ She gave me the ultimate experience — we went to Mamma Zu, we went to the museums, and I kind of looked around and, being from London for the past four years, it was amazing what we have here — cobblestone streets, warehouses from the 19th century, and it seemed like this great almost sort of empty canvas to come back and create a business,” he said.

Trible says being in Richmond affects the clothes they make.

“I think it’s different than if we’d be in New York or LA or Washington,” he said.

The impact

l3Though Ledbury is based in RVA, the vast majority of its customers span the country. About 75 percent of sales are done online.

This year alone, “The Pauls” are expected the sell more than 100,000 shirts.

Famous Ledbury wearers include Daniel Radcliffe, Andy Samberg and Willie Geist.

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Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine recently stopped by their sample sale, picked up some clothes and — like Radcliffe — wore them on a national late-night talk show.

Trible says it’s fun to see their work in the spotlight, but he’ll never forget the first time he saw one of their shirts on the streets.

“I ran into somebody at an airport about three months after we’d made our first collection and I didn’t know who they were, they didn’t know anybody who I knew. You know, it’s always your friends and family at the start. And they were wearing a Ledbury shirt and I basically almost hugged them coming off the gate just because I was so excited about it and of course I went up and talked to them,” he said. “I still do that. I don’t think you lose that feeling.”

The future

For Ledbury, producing shirts on site is important.

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“Not many people know this, but actually the second-oldest continuous running shirtmaker in the U.S. was based here in Richmond. It was called Creery Custom Shirts in the West End,” said Trible. “They have literally 108 years of history. They had patterns for Harry Truman, they did pajamas for him, George H. W. Bush, countless governors and mayors of Richmond.”

Last year, Ledbury purchased Creery Custom Shirts and folded it into the company, creating an in-house workshop. This is where some of its shirts are crafted start to finish.

“It’s been one of the more interesting things that we do because we’ve sort of been able to learn from all this history of making shirts on site and it’s really just made us better at being shirtmakers and what we do from a whole collection standpoint,” he said.

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The workshop opened last fall.

In it, they’re doing three things. The first is bespoke shirtmaking, where individual patterns are made for every single person. Customers can help design a custom shirt.

Second, they’re producing the Commonwealth Collection.

“We’ve done a hunting shirt, we’re doing a military fatigue jacket patterned off of something my grandfather wore in WWII right now,” said Trible.

He says “presidential pajamas” are next, based on Truman’s pajamas the century-old acquired business used to make.

Third, Ledbury is using its workshop as a sampling warehouse.

“A lot of our sampling we used to do overseas we now do here,” said Trible. “So we move quicker, we can do more creative and innovative designs and it just kind of makes us better shirtmakers at the end of the day.”

And he says that’s important because the way a man looks can affect the way he feels.

“I think a great fitting shirt, a great fitting blazer, a pair of pants that makes you look modern and kept, I think that’s a big part of putting your best foot forward.”

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