The Menswear Style Podcast

Sophie Lloyd & Ephraim Austin, Co-Founders of Ziggy Lloyd

January 11, 2021 Menswear Style Episode 107
The Menswear Style Podcast
Sophie Lloyd & Ephraim Austin, Co-Founders of Ziggy Lloyd
Chapters
The Menswear Style Podcast
Sophie Lloyd & Ephraim Austin, Co-Founders of Ziggy Lloyd
Jan 11, 2021 Episode 107
Menswear Style

Ziggy Lloyd was created for the well-travelled man who buys a last-minute flight across the world, for the music-lover who meticulously puts together the perfect playlist for every party, for the gourmet who appreciates fine dining as much as late night street food, and most of all, for the daring individual who isn’t afraid to let his personality shine through a carefully curated wardrobe. Ziggy Lloyd's limited-edition collection of men's coats are classic and timeless, with a contemporary twist. The magic of the coats and jackets is in the feel, look and textures. Each garment is crafted from high quality, sustainable materials, and every detail tells a story; from the luscious alpaca fleece once worn by the Incan nobility that is hand spun and woven into the softest wool fabric by local communities in Peru, to the handmade buttons that come from the tagua nut indigenous to Ecuador, to the original, hand drawn designs printed on silky soft lining. Made in limited batches in an atelier just outside of Lisbon by an experienced team of tailors, their coat designs reflect how life should be lived: with purpose and personality.

In this episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview Ziggy Lloyd Co-Founders, Sophie Lloyd and Ephraim Austin, about how the husband-and-wife duo met and where the idea and inspiration for their brand came from. Focussed on Alpaca wool, they set out to start a fashion brand focused on men's jackets and coats made in Portugal. Our host Peter Brooker and Sophie/Ephraim also talk about early supply chain problems, the benefits of Alpaca fiber, working with artists, pricing strategies, sustainability, and how Brexit and Covid-19 has impacted their business.

Whilst we have your attention, be sure to sign up to our daily MenswearStyle newsletter here. We promise to only send you the good stuff.

Show Notes Transcript

Ziggy Lloyd was created for the well-travelled man who buys a last-minute flight across the world, for the music-lover who meticulously puts together the perfect playlist for every party, for the gourmet who appreciates fine dining as much as late night street food, and most of all, for the daring individual who isn’t afraid to let his personality shine through a carefully curated wardrobe. Ziggy Lloyd's limited-edition collection of men's coats are classic and timeless, with a contemporary twist. The magic of the coats and jackets is in the feel, look and textures. Each garment is crafted from high quality, sustainable materials, and every detail tells a story; from the luscious alpaca fleece once worn by the Incan nobility that is hand spun and woven into the softest wool fabric by local communities in Peru, to the handmade buttons that come from the tagua nut indigenous to Ecuador, to the original, hand drawn designs printed on silky soft lining. Made in limited batches in an atelier just outside of Lisbon by an experienced team of tailors, their coat designs reflect how life should be lived: with purpose and personality.

In this episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview Ziggy Lloyd Co-Founders, Sophie Lloyd and Ephraim Austin, about how the husband-and-wife duo met and where the idea and inspiration for their brand came from. Focussed on Alpaca wool, they set out to start a fashion brand focused on men's jackets and coats made in Portugal. Our host Peter Brooker and Sophie/Ephraim also talk about early supply chain problems, the benefits of Alpaca fiber, working with artists, pricing strategies, sustainability, and how Brexit and Covid-19 has impacted their business.

Whilst we have your attention, be sure to sign up to our daily MenswearStyle newsletter here. We promise to only send you the good stuff.

Unknown:

Hello, and welcome to another episode of The menswear style podcast. I'm your host Pete Rocha. And on this episode I'm going to talk to Sophie and Ephraim, founders of Ziggy Lloyd. And let me tell you all about Ziggy Lloyd from their website, which you can find, by the way at Ziggy lloyd.com. And I'll tell this in the first person. To give you a quick summary. Our coats are all made from premium alpaca wool responsibly sourced from Peru. While the story of our materials start in South America, where we spent many years our coats are made in small limited edition batches in an affiliate just outside of Lisbon, where we now live. One of the most special things about our collection is the quality of the materials and the way they feel and while our styles are timeless and designed to last, we like to have fun and tell stories with the details such as our personalised eco friendly Tiguan up buttons that come from Ecuador, and our exclusive lining print in collaboration with artists. Okay, so you get the idea that interview with Sophie and Ephraim to come. I really enjoyed speaking to these guys. We cover a lot of ground from sourcing the alpaca wall and the obstacles that Sophie and Ephraim had to go through. And everything else in between getting a brand off the ground. You know the impact Brexit has on supply chains right now. But before we get to that interview, don't forget to check out the show notes at WWW dot menswear style Koto UK, and on the social at men's wear style. If you want to tell us about your brand, come on the show and tell us about your journey. You can email us here at info at menswear. store.co.uk Okay. Let's get to it. This is a good one. I hope you enjoy it. Here is an interview with Sophie and Ephraim founders of Ziggy Lloyd. Well, it's my great pleasure to introduce Sophie and Ephraim founders of Ziggy Lloyd, how we're doing today guys. Doing well. Thank you doing well, thanks. Great to have you on the show. And for the uninitiated. Perhaps you can just introduce yourselves and tell us a little bit about Ziggy Lloyd. Okay. I'm Sophie and this is Ephraim, and we're husband and wife. And we we met in we're currently now based in Lisbon, but we met in Argentina. And we both lived I was I was living there for eight years and he was living there for five years. My background is in fashion, originally fashion journalism and and styling. And then when I moved to Argentina in Buenos Aires, I started personal shopping business and taking taking clients kind of teaching and giving clients design experiences taking them to the hidden kind of designer spots and when saris and Ethan's background is in finance. Yeah, I am a cog in the corporate machine. Yes, but you Yeah. But so my background was I worked in finance for a long time, got a bit burnt out and decided to move to Argentina. And that is where I met so and that is where we bonded on our love for Malbec and for throwing costume parties. And this is and that is kind of where the idea for z Lloyd. Yeah, so we were Yeah, we were living in Argentina and they kind of initialised we have an initial idea in 2017 and how the inspiration came from, from my business actually, because I was taking cloud shopping and to show them kind of the local craftsmanship and materials of not just Argentina but all of all of South America and and people like notice a lot of clients that are always really impressed by the quality of the kind of alpaca wool products that you could get there because a lot of people would associate alpaca wool with a kind of the those kind of itchy hippy like jumpers that you get when you go backpacking in Peru. But that also there's some, you know, some really beautiful kind of wools particularly in Peru, so we kind of Yeah, came were kind of inspired by that material and decided that we wanted to kind of work on something together. And so yeah, so Toby, oh, sorry to jump in. I was just gonna tell me about you had the idea. So 2017 what are the next stepping stones? Once you have the idea? Where do you take the idea next. So we were just kind of playing around with ideas about what we could do with the material. And he from, you know, it always had a real interest in fashion. Even though he came from a finance background, and we initially met because I took him on a on a shopping tour, a shopping trip, I got I got her to take me shopping. That was nice. But But yeah, and then we kind of were thinking about things that we could do. And one thing that Ephraim loves is coats. So selfishly, you know, I wanted to start a coat brand, because I wanted lots of cool coats. That's Yeah, that's a cool move. I like that. And we, you know, we noticed that there's a lot of, there's a lot of brands out there, you know, kids wear brands, and some women's women's wear brands working with kind of alpaca wool doing a lot of knitwear and stuff, there were less brands in the in the men's wear field to do it working specifically without with that kind of fabric. So we decided to go to Peru and Bolivia, and try to find the best alpaca wool that we could and go exploring and learn about how it's how it's done. And so yeah, we Yeah, we we travelled through Peru to find suppliers, which was really cool. It was cool. You know, doing meetings in Spanish and trying to figure out, you know, who are the suppliers. And so we travelled through Peru, and then we went down into Bolivia. And we found there's a surprisingly there's a big tailoring trade in the past. So we had sketched out some prototypes. And we found a tailor in the pause, and he made us some prototypes. And so we brought him back to when it starts. And that was kind of the Genesis. Interesting. And so this prototype of these designs that you've put together. Sophie, did you have something in mind already with the coats? Yeah, I mean, we kind of had an idea of kind of two or three at the time basic models that we wanted to we wanted to do, we wanted to do like a classic overcoat, and then a bomber jacket, and then more of a kind of military military style jacket. And so yeah, we kind of sketched out some designs. And we just because we'd already been in Peru at that point. And we, we bought some fabrics and kind of sampled fabric from one of the one of the suppliers that we found that we that we really liked. And then we took it with us to Bolivia to this tailor and asked him to do it was a really tiny little family run operation, just it just a guy and his brother, and a really, really lovely old guy. But I mean, his the kind of craftsmanship was really amazing. Anyway, he did a great job on these samples, these are samples that we did. And so initially, we were thinking that, you know, we'd like to kind of work with the, with the taylorism in in Bolivia, but the quality of the alpaca wool was better than was better improved the, the typical type of alpaca wool fabric that we were working with to make a coat, which is a kind of a tightly woven fabric, you find a lot of alpaca wool for kind of knitwear and Bolivia, but less so but, but the specific material we were needed was, was made in Peru. And then, but yeah, that week, so Originally, we were going to make the coats in Bolivia, but it is, it's like it's absolutely impossible to run a business in South America. So like trying to ship the fabric to Bolivia was a total disaster and a nightmare because of all the corruption and red tape. And I mean, you think it would be easy to send fabric from Peru to Bolivia because the country is right next to each other, but we ended up right. So our initial kind of order, we'd agreed with this guy that he was going to make us a very small trial order of some coats. And we ordered some fabric from Peru and then it was stuck in Bolivia in customs for a very long time. This must be so this must be quite disheartening, because you really you've got the idea. You've got the prototypes, and you're kind of just wanting to get things off the ground right but then this is where the red tape comes in. And so how did you overcome this? I guess just moving production elsewhere? Well, yeah, we did a workout we just did this day there is a roll of fabric in Bolivians custom office. It's Yes, the guy is probably using it to keep him making his own suit. What I really like having a look on the website, which people should go to, by the way after after they listen to this podcast is Ziggy lloyd.com to have a look at some of the garments there. You mentioned the bomber early on. I don't think I've seen too many of like the casual jackets made out of alpaca. Maybe you haven't been looking hard enough is this is this something that you also thought they will make some unique garments out of this? Yeah, we wanted to we wanted to kind of mix it up and come up with some more contemporary style. You know, you don't often see bomber jackets and kind of wool like that. So he, and they're usually pretty casual and we wanted to take like, you know, a normally casual coat and take it pretty make it pretty Luxe, you know, the kind of the wool is very, I mean, it feels beautiful. It's the magic of it really is in the field. And people are always amazed when they put on the coats the way that the way they feel and the way that will feel. I mean, it's very, very soft, and it's also very, very warm. But then it kind of wears a little bit better than kind of Kashmir, for example. Yeah. So, yeah, we tried to kind of incorporate some kind of more, you know, interesting kind of modern designs in there. And then also the other details that we like to have fun with as well. So kind of doing great classic, kind of quite classic models, timeless models, but then playing around with some of the details introducing the colours. And so buttons, for example, I mean, every detail kind of has a story behind it. So we have the story of the alpaca wool. And then our buttons come from are all made from the Tiguan it. And that all comes from we found a supplier in Ecuador that works with kind of local, local artisans. And it's a very sustainable process with the nuts fall from the tree and they're collected and then they're kind of chopped and carved into into buttons. And then we have our Ziggy Lloyd stump, put on the buttons, but we've got some stunning colours and, and then and then we also have a kind of lining print that features just on the in a in the side panels of the coat. And so our idea with that is to do because we only produce when produced on a very small batch collections anyway. And so with each new kind of collection, maybe every year, we're going to work with different artists on the kind of blinding print. And so the one we did recently was with a Portuguese street artist who from Porto in the north of Portugal, we came across here we came across history art and found them on Instagram and then contacted him if he'd be interested in designing a print for us. So he'd never done that before. So he was really excited. Yeah, it was cool, because we were drawn to like he's very, like geometric shapes and all that. And yeah, we were really drawn to that. And yeah, it was really cool working with him to like come up with like a z load pattern. Yeah. That's cool. I love the lightning. I think it's in the one that the Duke with the the library almost like the end papers in that. Right. And that was our first one. We wanted to do like a gentleman's bookshelf. Yeah. So yeah, she, though with the London artists on that one. Yeah, that was really cool. Yeah. And is that the plan going forward that each different garment will have perhaps a different collaboration with another artist? Or is this something that Yeah, so each kind of small batch collection that we do, we want to collaborate with a different kind of artist to have some kind of artwork in there, I mean, only kind of features in the side panels as well, rather than in the whole jacket. But yeah, that kind of idea going forward. So it adds a real sense of I don't know individualism, but also a lot of you can tell there's a lot of passion that's gone into this, because there's, there's craft that you guys are doing behind the scenes of the designs and the sourcing of the fabrics and making it new, but there's also somebody else's ideas and their work, you know, that you're not going to find anywhere else. So yeah, I do like the idea of having something that you just know that not many other people are going to have or they're going to look and go, what is that? Where did you get that? Yeah, and just the kind of idea and we want to make that Yeah, how people appreciate kind of the story behind every detail and kind of appreciate the value in the work that's gone into every coat and the you know, justify the price to because there's the high end is a high end garments. Well, I looked at the pricing on the website, and I actually got a tear. I think it's quite accessible for what the garment Yeah, I mean, I thought, you know, after because I kind of went for it backwards. I read the story. I saw the press release, and I checked out all the alpacas in Peru, got the girlfriend in because she loves her packets, and then went on to the government and had a look at the prices and I thought they were actually quite modest compared to knowing how much Yeah, yeah, yeah, there's there's definitely other brands that go much, much higher. But, you know, we're just starting out and so yeah, we're still trying to raise brand awareness. And so you know, make ourselves you know, reasonably accessible. Yeah. Yeah, but now our packers are really cute. Right? Yeah, that's so team as well. I really, really tame animals like it's quite amazing. But one thing I would like to mention because sometimes people because we work with baby alpaca fabrics and people always some people wonder why it's called baby alpaca and it doesn't. It's nothing to do with baby alpacas. There's no babies that baby I'll pack has harmed in the process. It's just a classification of wolves there. Right, okay. And maybe just touch upon the sustainability and the kind of ethical way that your sources as well. Maybe you can touch upon that for us. Sure. Yeah. So, obviously sustainability is important to us. That was kind of one of the things that we, you know, we wanted to build a brand with a conscience. And so, you know, all of our materials, you know, we try to be as sustainable as possible. So, for example, alpaca, you know, alpacas are short, short once a year, and you know, it's good for the alpacas. It prevents heat stress, and it's good for the health and it provides income to local alpaca farmers. And what was I gonna say, our buttons, you know, come from the tag, one nut, they're coming from a tree, our packaging is recycled paper. We're doing small batch collections. So we don't have a lot of excess stock. And, you know, we're just starting out, but we're looking into ways to upcycle. So, you know, we recently made some of the leftover fabric we have from the recent collection, we've made into some smaller g leis, for babies. For stylish babies, what about dogs? Can we get something going? We've thought about that. We also have a dog. So we've thought about that, too, that we like, yeah, we definitely want to find ways, you know, using reusing material and, you know, access any, you know, extra stock, we have all the kind of prototypes kind of reworking materials and fabrics, and so that we're not wasting? Yeah, that's great. That's great. You've got to tell me how Brexit has now impacted you guys. Or if, if at all, I mean, we've got locked down here in London Now again, and locked down free. So maybe you can talk about a little bit of the business and the supply chains. And if that's if that's been affected. So Brexit, we are still working through. So far, it has meant a lot more paperwork for us, has meant, you know, kind of filling out different VAT stuff and talking to our accountant more often. And I don't know how much it has impacted sales, obviously COVID impacted sales a lot. But mostly Brexit is just it's more of a headache. It's more red tape. And it's it's not it's not favourable to your business. Right? Because I mean, I heard that I mean, it's about 1200 pages anyway, I have a document that no one's gonna thumb through in a waving, some politicians may have had a look at it over the Christmas break. But that was about it. The real people that are dipping their bread in all this is the consulting agencies that people that you will have to go to and go Look, how do I get this kind of farm the work out to them, and then that affects bottom lines and profit margins. So it, it's tough as well, because I think in in Britain, if you wanted to sell something or export something, then you have to make sure that everything's been British made. So for example, if there's like a doll that has everything that's been made in Britain, but we've sourced the eyes from China or something, then we have to fill out another form or we have to pay another tax on top of that. I don't know the full ins and outs but I mean, this was just some of the little things like the fine print that you'll have to have to thumb through so I can imagine just now it's a it's a nightmare for you guys. Yeah. Yeah. Fortunately, we're not shipping from from England. We're shipping from Portugal. So that's Yeah. Then Yeah, all the export stuff with UK. Yeah, it's it's just more work. It's more headache. It's it's more stuff to learn and figure out more. Yeah, more of a maze to another stepping stone on the journey. Yeah, exactly. And obviously, you know, we launched we kind of launched last year, and we did our first we launched at the end of last, last beginning of last year, beginning of 2020. Towards the end of the winter season, we did kind of launched a few pieces, and we did a test kind of pop up event. And because we're basically we're mostly directly we are a director of a brand and we're only selling online but then we also Our idea was to kind of host these series of kind of pop up soirees for like men. And so bringing bringing men together and kind of an invite only kind of event where and kind of in secret location. So our first one we did in London and we did it in a in a kind of studio apartments in like a living room setting. So guys can kind of come sit down, have a drink, listen to a really good playlist and then also come shop for coats and because men don't like to feel the pressure when they shop too soon and wanted to create a relaxed environment, we can bring kind of like minded guys together. And so we did this initial event. It was last February just before the right right before COVID. Timing we lucked out like we have. Yeah, I mean, we had some great cocktails really nice wine. I mean, it was a perfect, you know, it was a really, it went really well, we got a lot of really positive feedback from it was really nice just to meet people in person and for people to actually touch and feel the coats and really understand, you know, what we're doing. And we had really, really positive feedback. And now we were kind of really excited about you know, our plan was to do more of those events, you know, this past, you know, starting last autumn? How could we not do it virtually, I mean, you can squeeze in a call and so what we what we did instead in the end was we put together this really nice look book, I think we sent you the digital version, but we've been sending it out to people through the public samples into kind of people can touch and people ideas, they can experience the collection from from their living room. Obviously, it's not quite the same thing. And then once the Yeah, once the world kind of returns to normal a bit more than we'd like to, you know, take up the idea again and carry on doing. Yeah. And, yeah, I mean, COVID in general, just just no one wants to buy a coat when they're all stuck inside. It's not the easiest. Well, I mean, I don't know we still got to go out and walk out dogs freezing in London, and by the way, the winters in London, it's not last week. Yeah. Well, I mean, from from your mouth to my girlfriend's is she's from Texas. So I mean Russia originally but Texas so she knows how damaging and punishing these winters in the UK. Yeah. Well, the alpaca wool coats are really warm, though it is a really warm Luckily, we run a cocoa farm as well. And I think the thing about our Packer is, for me, it looks like a very tactile fabric looks like something you want to touch. Like I remember I had a meeting with a gentleman who was a tailor. And he was wearing a matte alpaca suit and not seen anything quite like it before. It looks the absolute nuts in it. And it's one of these things you have to kind of go where is it because it's not your your typical wall to even look at as kind of like a like a fleecy. Look, I think it's your boy, you'll probably tell me in the way it's fine combed. So have you got any other plans to take it outside of coats, maybe pants, trousers and suits in the long run before that far ahead. I mean, right now, I think we just want to focus on kind of one one item and do it really well. And can we have we have considered dressing gowns? Yeah. Oh, good move. Now that's, that's the men's club that I'd like to go to all of us in our dressing gowns, monogrammed talking and enjoying some. Yeah. Well, guys, for now. Yeah, we're sticking with kind of just that. Well, listen, congratulations, I think I think the products look fantastic. I really like how, you know, the designs are just modern. And each one is different. You know, and it's not just kind of top coats and overcoats, there's different styles of coats as well. So something for everyone to check out and the colours work really well. Is it quite an easy fabric to manipulate? Sophie's it's something that you can do a lot with in terms of manipulating. And in terms of kind of what it what do you mean? So like, in terms of if you if you just have like the role of alpaca? Can you? Can you like mould it to someone shaped quite easily? Or is it quite a rigid thing, and then you have to kind of squeeze it a soft, kind of malleable kind of kind of fabric, it's not too structured. So yeah, it's kind of quite easy to kind of create different shapes and mould around the body. Yeah, right. Okay. Yeah. interesting example, I did a fashion design course. And I've always had to do a thing where which is your like your, your best, like use a malleable fabric that you can use. And I was trying all sorts of weird stuff out to make a skirt out of recycled plastic bags and and shape them and. And I was like, This is horrible. But there's professionals out there that can do this. So yeah, that that was a waste of time. But anyway, one problem that we had in Portugal, actually when we first looking because now we manufacture we make everything in Portugal. And when we first moved here from from Argentina, we had problems trying to find the right person to make the cozzia who was familiar with working with the fabric as well. You don't really know. But yeah, we found we just work with small today just outside of the house. So which is great because we can make the visit and isn't that you know, there's no big, very small teleo just a small team and kind of tailor so we can we don't have big minimum order quantities or anything like that. So it works really well for us. Okay, that sounds good then they? Well, they're known for doing some really good producing In Portugal, in shoes, especially I speak to a lot of brands and space people that you know, they, they try doing different garments and shoes everywhere else in the world. And they go look, we tried it. We just always come back to Portugal because they know what they're doing. Yeah. Yeah. And I wonder if it's especially good for startups as well. That's probably why a lot of I mean, brands in the UK go to Portugal for their initial ideas and get it off the off the ground there. Yeah, I mean, the others, a lot of company has a lot of places that are willing to cater to smaller and smaller sites. I guess. Then there's also a lot of big Porto in the north as a huge big manufacturing hub. big, huge minimum order quantities as well. Yeah. Well, guys, it's been a real pleasure talking to you and getting to know you guys and and the brand as well. Like I say, I think you've got a great load of coats on the website. And people again, can visit Ziggy Lloyd calm. So where's the Ziggy come from? That is a good question. So the name most people think that it is just named after our dog because our dog is named Ziggy. And I'm obviously a David Bowie fan. The name came from basically we wanted to do classic with the twist. So Lloyd is Sophie's last name. So that's kind of a classic, you know, sophisticated, Allah, Lloyds Bank. And then you have Ziggy, which is like the twist. So we wanted to make a coat that CG startups could wear to work at Lloyds Bank. Nice. That's great. I was gonna say it's a good tagline for the poster. I can almost see that. The Ziggy Lloyd film. Was that tagline? Yeah, my family have nothing to do with Lloyds Bank. Just Lloyds? Jim. I got it. Yeah. The Tennis Club. The tennis club. But yeah, great talking to you guys. And, and best of luck. And stay safe over there and hope to see in London for for a gentlemen's club soon. Yeah, good. Great. Well, how about that, as you can appreciate, I could have talked to Sofia and he for him for hours, mainly about my failed attempts to make dresses out of carrier bags, and well, numerous failed design ideas. Let's face it. They say the worst and the experience, the better the story I don't know, in my case, but perhaps I'll tell you more about that another time another place. In the meantime, make sure you're supporting the good guys and head over to Ziggy Lloyd calm and treat yourself or your loved ones some awesome high quality alpaca coats. That's it for my end. Thanks for tuning in. If you like what you're hearing, do leave us a review. It helps our egos around here and until next time.