With a passion for womenswear and tailoring since the age of 13, Phoebe Gormley of Gormley of Gormley & Gamble has redefined Savile Row. She founded the first tailor catering exclusively to women when she was only 20 and was even named in Forbes 30 under 30 last year. Phoebe’s youth and combined passion for tailoring and technology has turned an antiquated process into a modern day service. Here she dives into her roots and what’s more in store for her made-to-measure business, including a side dish of excellent advice. And in collaboration with The Restory, Gormley & Gamble is offering our readers an exclusive discount to have you suited and booted this time of the year! Find out more below.
Tell us a bit about what inspired you to set up the first women’s only tailor on Savile Row?
It was a passion for femininity, style, substance and Savile Row, wanting to be the first person to partner them all together for this first time and create magic.
Where does your passion for tailoring come from?
My granny is an excellent seamstress, but since she lives in South Africa, I guess it’s in the genes. Like any teenage girl, I had an insatiable appetite for clothes, but I lived in the middle of nowhere, where the local village had three churches, a pub and a fabric shop; my salvation. I started making clothes for myself when I was 13, started interning around Savile Row when I was 15, and that’s when the love affair began.
Other than designing exclusively for women, what sets your business apart from the rest of the tailors on Savile Row?
I suppose I have quite a modern take on silhouette, not stuffy four button jackets. I am also sustainability conscious and thus try to use suppliers who have the same outlook as I do; meaning every mill, every maker, every seamstress is paid fairly, on time, given good holiday, the whole nine yards. I wouldn’t want to make clothes that squash the woman making it to empower the one wearing it. I also am more open minded to fabrics and won’t cut corners, so a lot of Savile Row suits will be gorgeous wool on the outside, but often still lined with polyester- horrifying! While I adore silk and go to town with it wherever possible. We have just received our second round of Liberty’s Limited Edition silks, which are absolutely to die for.
What does it take to become a successful entrepreneur & do you have any advise for someone starting out in Fashion?
Patience and resilience. Everyone will think your life is glam and fabulous, and some people might not be happy for you, but just stay true to yourself and don’t forget to switch off. People see it as a flaw or as a sign of weakness when you need to decompress, but you can only keep the love alive if you’re also allowed distance sometimes. Just like with any relationship, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Savile Row is anti-fashion and anti three-month trends; it’s style, it’s about something that suits you, completely and utterly and not about what any editor tells you to wear. It’s your body isn’t it?
Where do you hope to take Gormley & Gamble in the next few years and which other projects are you working on?
We’ve recently launched our first ready-to-wear line of limited edition sporting jackets in collaboration with Donna Ida Denim and another round of velvets just came out in black and dark green for this Autumn. I’ve always wanted to create a RTW line with decadent never-cutting-corners-gorgeousness. We also trialled the idea of a dress where clients can input their measurements online, our ELBD, and it worked fantastically! So perhaps evolving that into a collection of ‘The Ultimate White Shirt’ is going to be the next step.
What are your investment pieces and how do you take care of them?
I love a good handbag and a nude suede heel. I love wearing suede as I get blisters so easily, but it does need TLC. I try to rotate as often as I can and not wear the same shoe more than a few days in a row to stop the leather from stretching. I always spray them before I even plan to wear them, just as soon as they come home. Sometimes I get feet put onto the bottom of bags that don’t have them so the underside stays lovelier for longer.
What can you not live without?
My family, my other half, my black cockapoo Luna, earl grey tea, and cardamom brownies from the Good Egg.
What’s your advice for women looking to have something tailored for the first time?
The first one is always the hardest; that’s where all the pain-staking pattern cutting time is involved, that’s the real skill. But once that’s done and the correlating series of fittings, any order after that is easy peasy. So look at it as a long-term investment, not a short term fix. These are items made to be worn forever, not that top that you thought was nice but started falling apart after the fifth wear. They say women wear 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time; so spend your money according to that rule, spend 80% of the ‘wardrobe allowance’ on the 20% you’ll love and never get sick of. Spend 20% of the allowance on the 80% you’ll wear once a year at a push, because you bought it on a whim. Or better yet, don’t buy it, don’t add it to landfill in six months time and buy one thing amazing instead of ten mediocre pieces, that’s my advice.
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