Whiteley & Payne
Fashions change from season to season, but traditional menswear is timeless. British tailoring inspired by Savile Row and Northampton has undergone a renaissance over the past 5 -10 years. Understanding this notion all too well is Jason Whiteley and Jason Payne, the founders of Whiteley & Payne, who offer a beautiful range of English made, ready to wear and made to measure luxury shirts, ties and pocket squares. We sat down with the duo to discuss Whiteley & Payne, traditional methods and the modern businessman.
THE FOXLEY DOCKET: What are your backgrounds?
JASON PAYNE: We’re management consultants, specialising in business development and manufacturing. However, our passion is British Tailoring and Whiteley & Payne. We love the fact that we are making and promoting English made luxury shirts, ties and pocket squares, using traditional manufacturing methods.
TFD: When did Whiteley and Payne begin?
JASON WHITELEY: Two years ago, we met up in the bar at Selfridges, and in passing, both lamented our inability to find quality white luxury shirts at reasonable prices. Jason Payne suggested we start making our own – I thought he was mad! Within 18 months of that conversation, we launched on line.
TFD: So, you wanted to keep it British?
JP: Yes, we’re both very passionate about Made in England. It’s the home of shirt and tie making. Only a couple of companies still manufacture here. We contemplated making abroad, but we were in love with the heritage and the wonderful quality associated with the traditional methods of manufacture.
TFD: Can you elaborate on the traditional methods?
JW: Each element of a Whiteley & Payne shirt is hand cut, individually sewn and then sewn together. It’s a work of art, very labour intensive and bestows quality.
An example of how our shirt would differ from those mass produced abroad is our collars and cuffs – our interlinings are individually sewn in giving a very luxurious soft finish. A high percentage of other luxury shirts have fused / glued collars and cuffs meaning you get that very rigid cardboard-like feeling.
JP: We have a video on our website showing our shirts being made – it’s really worth watching, as you get a real feel for the hand crafted quality built into each product.
TFD: So have you sourced all your materials in the U.K?
JP: For our ties and pocket squares, we source woven and printed silks from mills dating back to the 18th century based in Suffolk and Macclesfield. The quality is tremendous, 50 oz pure dye mulberry silk, it’s inspiring. You can feel the difference in quality compared to cheap imports.
TFD: And your shirts?
JW: We use Thomas Mason cotton fabrics for our luxury shirts, an old English heritage brand dating back to 1796. It is now owned by Albini, a family run Italian mill who are in the top two cotton fabric mills in the world. The quality is outstanding – an example is the white Giza 87 fabric which has a wonderful lustre and brightness and holds its whiteness over time. Cotton fabrics are no longer made in the UK, although there is a new start up mill which is about to come online in the north of England, so it’s an exciting development!
TFD: Do you think your backgrounds have helped you to develop the brand?
JP: Oh, definitely. My background in high value manufacturing gives us insight and an appreciation of the process, materials and quality requirements to make world class luxury shirts and accessories.
JW: Undoubtedly our business acumen developed across differently industries has helped across all aspects of developing a shirt brand from sourcing to manufacturing to marketing. I have also been a buyer of British tailoring for the past 20 years including bespoke suits. This has given us a strong understanding of fabrics, cuts/fits, sizing and quality. We also love Italian flair, so it’s great to work with Albini on the shirt fabrics.
TFD: You offer a number of shirt variations, what was the thinking behind this?
JP: We have spent a lot of time developing our ready to wear ‘patterns’ to maximise the number of men who could buy straight ‘off the peg’. We offer both slim fit and tailored fit. Tailored fit is beautifully cut but wider than slim fit for the ‘thicker set’ customer. We do have customers who also love our ‘made to measure’ service as it allows the patterns to be altered e.g. Shorter/longer body and arms, different cuffs and collars.
TFD: You also seem to have a number of shirt ranges?
JW: Yes, we have our slim and tailored fit across three ranges to represent the fineness in fabric quality; our City Classic shirts are made from 100 two ply cottons, City Flyers are 120 two ply cottons and our Traveller shirts are made from beautiful, easy to iron cotton fabrics.
JP: We are a small company so we have also started with classic colours of white, blues and pinks with variants such as stripes and micro checks. This makes our shirts easy to match with suits and our ties but you can just as easily wear them in the evening/weekends with smart jeans or chinos.
TFD: Who/what inspires you?
JW: Style icons such as Cary Grant, Paul Newman, Gianni Agnelli, Lapo Elkann and Eddie Redmayne. We also love luxury brands such as Huntsman, Savile Row Tailors, John Lobb and Crockett and Jones for shoes, Blancpain and Audemars Piquet for watches.
TFD: Who would you say is a Whiteley & Payne client?
JP: As our shirts and accessories are classic, we appeal to all ages from young men/businessman in their 20s up to customers in their 60s and beyond. Our customers love the feel and quality of our luxury shirts. They also want a shirt that they can keep buying as the quality is guaranteed.
TFD: What are you hoping to achieve? What’s your goal for the brand?
JW: The goal is to be recognised as a fantastic high quality shirt and accessories brand within the luxury market. We’d also love to have our own retail stores in London, New York, Paris, Milan, Tokyo. With respect to our products, we will widen our colour palette for our shirts, introduce more collar types and maybe introduce a smart casual range e.g. Button down collars. We will however not move too far from our core offering of classic, luxurious and timeless luxury shirts, ties and pocket squares.
TFD: What plans do you have for the next 12 months?
JP: We are about to extend our Traveller range in time for Christmas. Our customers love our easy to iron shirts. We are also looking at pop-up shop options in London and developing export pathways. We have started collaborating with The Grey Fox, he is a great supporter and loves all things British made. We hope to do further collaborations in 2017. We are also considering showing at Pitti Uomo in Florence in 2017, it’s the most important international event for menswear. So we have a lot going on!
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