Shirtmakers tend to acquire their considerable skills, as well as their favorite shears, from fathers and grandfathers who have practiced the art of tailoring for decades before them. So Paul Trible and Paul Watson are something of an anomaly in that the two Oxford MBAs gave up careers in finance and government, respectively, to study the art of shirt making before launching their jointly owned Ledbury label last fall. They learned their skills as apprentices to Robert Emmett, one of Jermyn Street’s top shirtmakers, where they studied the craft from fabric selection to stitching.
Combining their business savvy and technical knowledge with the desire to create a more modern men’s dress shirt, the partners developed their business plan in the back room of a pub on London’s Ledbury Road, hence the company name, and by the end of 2009 had set up shop in a former tobacco warehouse near their hometown of Richmond, Virginia. However, unlike the typical English shirt, Ledbury’s Americanized designs feature a number of proprietary details, including inverse fusing of the collar to keep it from sagging and a lowered second button to create a perfectly formed V at the neck when opened. In addition to using fine Italian cottons and mother-of-pearl buttons on every shirt, Ledbury also offers 40 ready-made shirt designs incorporating choice of collar and cuff designs in either a classic or slim fit. For now, the collection is sold exclusively online, providing made-to-measure shirts at ready-to-wear prices. Shirts start at $115. (888.233.1942, www.ledbury.com)