Paul Trible is revolutionizing the centuries old menswear world, taking inspiration from the classic tailors of Savile Row and the shirtmakers of Jermyn Street and bringing that luxury and tradition to the States, where the lack of offerings in menswear has been a notorious frustration for the fashionable gentleman.
Big name men’s retailers have been making formless and baggy clothes for decades, and Paul found the real need in the American market for a shirt maker that prioritized the slim fit we’re all so fond of and quality that was relatable to the 30 year old hustling entrepreneur.
We sat down for a chat with Paul on everything from how a ruined Lehman Brothers career gave him the freedom to pursue his clothing dreams, the key to keeping your entrepreneurial passion, and the importance of learning from a master – no matter the industry.
Jenna Bostock: How did you get started in the clothing industry?
Paul Trible: I was not always a shirtmaker. 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.
Ironically, we were both heading into jobs in finance, but graduated the day before Lehman Brothers went under, so plans changed.
I always loved clothes, and after years in London, had become spoiled by access to a handful of great 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 became somewhat of an obsession.
One day I approached the tailor who was making my shirts and told him that I wanted to work this him. He thought I was crazy, but we ended up meeting for a beer. We met again the next week and then the week after and, eventually, he agreed.
So I 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. During the day, we would make shirts and at night we would be in the back of a pub on Ledbury Road writing the business plan.
Jenna Bostock: What motivated you to launch Ledbury?
Paul Trible: The inspiration for the business really came from my time in London in my 20s and the exposure to the tailors of Saville Row and the shirtmakers of Jermyn Street. On my trips back to the States I were always frustrated by the lack of offerings in menswear. Big name men’s retailers created formless and baggy clothes and high fashion brands charged extortionate prices. It seemed like there was a real need for an American shirt maker that prioritized fit and quality and was relatable to a 30-year-old guy.
Jenna Bostock: Can you tell us more about what it was like to break out on your own and start your own company?
Paul Trible: I always say that passion and fear are incredibly motivating factors. We launched in the midst of the worst economic climate since the great depression so it took a combination of hustle and faith. I remember someone telling me that we should be making burlap shirts, because that is the direction the economy was headed. But in the end we were having so much fun and people were loving the product and they kept coming back. For all of the early challenges, there is noting more rewarding about taking a design idea from swatch, to shirt sample to sale and then seeing someone you do not know wearing your creation. That was our early motivation and I don’t think I will ever get over that feeling.
Jenna Bostock: Where do you draw your daily inspiration from?
Paul Trible: Inspiration and the design process, really starts with travel. Every quarter we head over to France and Italy to meet with our fabric mills and start designing and selecting fabrics. From there we will start the sampling process in Richmond, which is really never ending. We come out with shirts every week and this year alone we will have over 300 different styles. Our goal is to introduce guys to different styles and unique fabrics. There is a lot out there for men besides the button down Oxford.
Jenna Bostock: What separates Ledbury products from others in the luxe menswear industry?
Paul Trible: The fact that we offer our customers suburb quality, the perfect fit and subtle innovations, all at an unmatched price point. We make shirts that fit better, feel better and last longer than anything else in the closet and that is the reason why we have literally hundreds of customers that own over 100 shirts a piece.
Jenna Bostock: What is the best and/or worst piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Paul Trible: Best Advice: Start ups are all about perpetual forward motion. It is not bad decisions that end most business ventures, it’s indecision.
Worst Advice: Outsource everything. There is nothing worse than outsourcing what makes you special.
Jenna Bostock: What’s on the horizon for Ledbury?
Paul Trible: Big things. Excited about the other categories of clothes that we have launched. Looking forward to the rollout of new Ledbury stores and growth of our bespoke shirtmaking workshop (where we make shirts by hand in Richmond). Lots on the plate, but loving it.
Jenna Bostock: Do you have any parting advice for any of our readers who might be thinking of starting their own business?
Paul Trible: Learn from a master. Be a specialist. Jump and net will appear.