The Menswear Style Podcast

Tom Wharton, Founder of Barrington Ayre

January 18, 2021 Menswear Style Episode 108
The Menswear Style Podcast
Tom Wharton, Founder of Barrington Ayre
Chapters
The Menswear Style Podcast
Tom Wharton, Founder of Barrington Ayre
Jan 18, 2021 Episode 108
Menswear Style

Barrington Ayre make luxury bespoke and made to order clothing from their Cirencester showroom located in the historic Market Place. Operating a full visiting tailoring service across The Cotswolds, The South West and London as well as the UK by appointment, their clothing is worn by the likes of Michael Vaughan, Robbie Savage, Jos Buttler, Greg James, and David 'Bumble'​ Lloyd to name a few. They pride themselves on making the finest clothing and have a real niche for tweed wedding suits. They have their own range of Made in Cirencester clothing, made by in house Savile Row tailor, Sian, studied tailoring at the London School of Fashion and then went on to work in Savile Row for Dege and Skinner for 3 years before returning to The Cotswolds.

In this episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview Tom Wharton, Founder of Barrington Ayre about the founding story of his men's tailoring brand which is currently in its 11th year of operation. Popular with the wedding market and known for their tweed formalwear, they have an in-house Savile Row tailor working from their workroom above their Cirencester showroom. Our host Peter Brooker and Tom also talk about adapting and staying positive through Covid-19, their global celebrity and sporting clientele, moving into womenswear, and their love for cricket.

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

Barrington Ayre make luxury bespoke and made to order clothing from their Cirencester showroom located in the historic Market Place. Operating a full visiting tailoring service across The Cotswolds, The South West and London as well as the UK by appointment, their clothing is worn by the likes of Michael Vaughan, Robbie Savage, Jos Buttler, Greg James, and David 'Bumble'​ Lloyd to name a few. They pride themselves on making the finest clothing and have a real niche for tweed wedding suits. They have their own range of Made in Cirencester clothing, made by in house Savile Row tailor, Sian, studied tailoring at the London School of Fashion and then went on to work in Savile Row for Dege and Skinner for 3 years before returning to The Cotswolds.

In this episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview Tom Wharton, Founder of Barrington Ayre about the founding story of his men's tailoring brand which is currently in its 11th year of operation. Popular with the wedding market and known for their tweed formalwear, they have an in-house Savile Row tailor working from their workroom above their Cirencester showroom. Our host Peter Brooker and Tom also talk about adapting and staying positive through Covid-19, their global celebrity and sporting clientele, moving into womenswear, and their love for cricket.

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 burger. On this episode I'm going to talk to Tom Wharton, founder of Barrington air shirt maker and tailor limited and I'm going to put a short clip from the website which you can find by the way at Barrington. air.co.uk. Luxury made in England bespoke and made to order clothing for men and women. We make the finest bespoke and made to order clothing for men, women and children. Individually luxury is our specialty and we have a real niche in the tweed wedding market. Early 2019. We see we see the launch of our new luxury lifestyle hub right here in Cirencester, providing a new concept in retail allowing people to experience and learn about a luxury lifestyle in a relaxed and welcoming location. Life is about experiences so start yours with us today. Okay, so that interview of Tom to come and it was a real fun 20 or so minutes. Tom talks about the impact that lockdowns are having on tailors and how he in particular is learning to adapt. And the story of Barrington air as well for people that might be familiar with the brand already you'll enjoy the backstory of how it all started and where it's heading today. So stay tuned for that to come. But before we get to Tom, don't forget to check out the show notes at www. menswear. style.co.uk and on the social app men's wear style. And if you want to tell us about your brand, you want to come on the show. Be a guest and tell us about your journey. You can email us here at info at menswear. style.co.uk Okay. So let's get to it. This is a good one. I hope you enjoy it. Here is an interview with Tom Wharton founder, Managing Director of Barrington air shirtmaker and Taylor limited. How you doing today, Tom? Great, how's life in Cirencester? It could be a lot worse. We're very lucky, you know. From the back door, it's I can walk with a dog for a walk out there. It's there are many people around and it's Yeah, so it could be a lot worse put it that way. And for people that don't know perhaps maybe some of our American audience we're about in Cirencester. They Cirencester is at 17 is the heart of the Cotswolds. So most people sort of know where Cheltenham is for the children races. We're about 10 miles south from there. So we're a lovely little market town very pretty mediaeval sort of hasn't changed in hundreds and hundreds of years cuz it's still got the lanes little roads. So it's a beautiful, it's a beautiful little place. And yeah, it's it's nice. It looks fantastic. In the photos, I've got to say and people people are visiting, maybe they're coming from London, it's about a two hour drive and change maybe from the info down to even sooner than if you had a good run. I suppose obviously, obviously, you don't gain it at the moment. But if you did go and the roads are quieter. You can be in London an hour and a half hour and a half to Birmingham. an hour and a half. You sit down on the case and it's a couple of hours down to Devon Cornwall is it's really everyone thinks you're stuck in the middle of nowhere, but actually an hour and a half. You can pretty much get anywhere you want to. Yeah. Well, Tom, please tell me a little bit about yourself and bearing too narrow believe it's been going for 10 years or so. Is that right? Yeah, I think so. 11th year actually this year, say yes. But American Taylor we set up initially just as a bespoke shirts maker, which I ran some evenings and weekends. So I was sort of self funding while still doing the job. That escalated that people started asking for us to make suits and clothing. And it's sort of developed from there. So we went straight. So now we make literally everything. So where we are here obviously we have a big base of tweed. Got a big country lifestyle brand here. But again, we've got a lot of customers in America, Australia. We used to do a lot of business in Norway. bizarrely, it was a he would go out to a couple of times a year to Norway and see people which is which is awesome. But yeah, so it's it's it's growing and and we got a lovely little show right in the middle of Cirencester right in the middle of the marketplace. So it looks out over the marketplace really great little Gradle setting old list of building defaults or wood panels but it's got no installation. So it's it's controlling the temperature Summer winter is always fun. And then we've also got a little work room on top where we got to separate Tony and Taylor, who she's been working with us for a year now. And that's where we sort of base our we make all our unstructured clothing up there. Ladies, were developing more clothes to go up there and get a few more sort of tailors in to grow that side of the business as well. Right. And just dialling back a little bit. What experience Did you have as a tailor before you open? Did you go to fashion school or pattern cutting school? No, but what I'd had a tailors with a friend of mine in London, and when I lived up there, he asked me to come join him to help was a full just suits initially and he actually brought me on board to make the student run the shirt side of things. So I trained with him and the tables up in Leeds for before I started this, unfortunately, he we had quite a fun, we're quite young, early 20s made a lot of clothes for nightclub owners in London, we did things like the gumball rally, we did some really fun things. But unfortunate my business partner sort of thought that he was a nightclub owner and used to spend most of his time in the nightclubs. And then I got a phone call one day from our accountants asking where where the money was. Chris was out in America at the time. And we were making some seats in the New York office. And he ended up in Mexico with a film producer, living it up like a film producer, unfortunately with our money, so yeah, it was it was a little awkward. But it forced me to get out of London, runaways, the country's countryside and sort of Yeah, soul searching and start again. Really? Wow. Sounds like this guy's got a crazy book in him. Probably is there probably is. Well, getting back to you, Tom. So you move to Cirencester. And would you say that you developed a house style? I know Sean, Sean has your master tailor there and she's got several robe background. Yeah. Would you say that you're you have a signature style in your bespoke area? And is that Savile Row inspired? Um, it is, but it's pretty more it's a very English look. So it's a very waisted jacket and very fitted trousers. More is a normal sort of tapered trousers. It's not to say, we don't really have a house. Look, we very much work with everyone. As you know, people have such different opinions and different looks as the joy of the spouse that they can have whatever they want. But our souls are sort of signature look is a very English that sort of get Carter sort of look, it's a very sharp, very traditional tailoring it just it's just a great look that will never go out of fashion. I mean, obviously we make stuff that's completely different to that. But that's if you say we have a house that is our sort of house look. So if someone comes in and says I would like to have the mohair dokay would suit as seen on Michael Caine and get car. Well, he got a special 25% discount just for being really cool. We're always up for deals, and they said like the Sylvester Stallone version of the get car, then the price goes up a little? Well, yes, we do some. We do some interesting looks. But a lot of people have their own styles. And so we will accommodate all that sort of stuff. Yeah. Interesting. And so what's the landscape for you like now in terms of I mean, we're recording this mid January mid lockdown. I mean, what was it like first time around in lockdown? And how has How have you adapted for the second time around? I mean, for the first time was, I think the fact that it was such a shock because no one had ever really got that. So I really know what it was gonna be like. We we set up because of the way we work, we have the sort of top two floors of the building. So there's the use of juniors underneath. Unfortunately, they've gone now due to due to lockdown, but there is somebody moving in fact, which is great. But we could keep very sort of separated and because we're appointment only, we will never know we don't matter the people in so we were able to really work up until the first lockdown. It was a strange, very odd place to be because there was only really myself and Sean and they'll kaffee will get my lunch across the room, the only people open Cirencester who sort of holding on till we were given the sort of the snapshot and then it was another lie it was hideous you know the fact that someone said he turns around and goes writes basically we're taking away your everything you can do your library has gone effectively over like if you know if we've gone tits up and it was a mistake that I've made and it was something that that you said you can live with that You think well, fair enough. That was I learned from that. But it was that horrible facts. And my wife works in luxury travel or did work in luxury travel. So her industry is suddenly just been cut as well. The try to get your head around the fact that we had the home school, I used to run some schools. So I had had some experience, but I don't think my kids were overly impressed with the whole thing. But you just adapt. I mean, that's the nice, the one good thing about being an independent shop is that you can adapt, and we have to adapt. And the first one I took a punt on I bought a load of face masks, before they became mandatory. And I don't if you know, Michael Vaughn, the Zen cricketer is one of our shareholders. And we've worked with him for a long time. And he very kindly pinged out a Twitter thing about our face masks. And they just sold like wildfire for for a month. So that sort of goes through a month. You the government gave us a grant, which is very kind of them. But I mean, it's it's it doesn't cover it. It's not a good play, because it's free money. But when you're paying for everything else still as well, it's Yeah, you know, for that, that's aside, so, yeah, because they had Shawn, we could still manufacturer, we could keep everything separate, and she could work from home so he could still make. So we had patterns from people before. So people were very good. And so we sent out fabrics. And we had done because they've got some number of customers in Australia and Norway and America, we've done a number of fittings and appointments via video, so knew how to do it and knew what worked and what hasn't worked while we initially did it. So that was good. And yeah, we were very lucky that we had great support through the time. And then when it's opened up, everyone came came straight back in it and it was great. Until you mentioned a couple of things. I wanted to touch upon two things there the the philosophical approach, you have to have I think in in these times, I remember when I was running an independent fashion shop just outside of Cambridge, we were right out in the sticks right out in the fields. So footfall was quite light anyway, people would have to make a special journey getting their cars to come and see us. And the council actually dug up the road, the main kapeller is that where that was coming into the heart of the town to do maintenance, and it was going on for like, it must go on for about three or four months. And it just took the rug from out from under us. And you know, as a company, it was just me and my best friend from school, we were saying, if it was something that we'd done, if we miss spent, or if we made poor decisions along the way you can take that on the chin, but things that kind of hit you sideways or blindside you that you don't see coming, you almost have to take on this well. It's a different mindset that you have to take, isn't it to try and get over these these bumps? Right? It really is, and it's in it, you know, brings a lot to light. I found my insurance company because we had business interruption insurance that I've been paying to the news for and then it turns out because this is a new disease, although uncovered for the Black Death, the plague, and there basically, is a named disease policy. And a new disease parent has arrived. So even so we didn't get any cover that even with a new ruling from yesterday, I found them again they let me in is in your policy, read your policy. Oh, good. So it's, it was just a constant kicking. But I think I think if you if you run your own business, you know and things and an entrepreneur stuff and that sort of thing. You you've just got to adapt, you've got to if you if you get negative about it, if you get down about it. Yeah. Yeah, you just got to try positivity. And if it doesn't work out at the end of it, but you've tried everything, and you've at least you can sit back and go well, I tried it. Yeah. And yeah, I mean, it's, it's not great. But I mean, it was it has to be done. Because of the way of the things but yeah, and and the second thing you touched upon Tom also about how people do virtual appointments now and you can kind of see what works and what doesn't work. Are these going to be things that you can utilise in the future, for example, for clients overseas, perhaps that might want to have something bespoke and go well, we've tried and tested this now the online fittings and the video fittings. Let's, let's see if we can, you know, leverage that and use that as a tool going forward? Yeah, I mean, we did it. We've used it for years, actually. The Australian the Norwegians, because I used to be able to go into a trip out there. It was, it was great. So I could do I go for a week and a couple times a year and see people we had quite a good little following in Australia. I think quite how did it happen? I think I think I think it was the cricket thing and the ashes and it sort of evolved from there. And we've always done these sort of video fittings. And the first two were a bit hairy. And, you know, I got a very relationship with an alteration seller in Australia who could help with those. The customers are great They understood and we worked with it. So actually they work, we knew how they work, we knew what to do with it, we knew that they do work, we could show people when they were doing it. I don't think it'll ever, I mean, the will, still people will still do it. But I don't see, we're tactile company, you know, you've got to feel the fabric, you've got to build a relationship and it zooms zoobi is not the same, you don't pick up on the little things, you don't have the little bits of banter you don't, this is not the same, you're not sharing a coffee or a drink or anything, you just don't get the same feeling and sort of feeling the fabric and you understand what the person while you're talking to these sneakers are, that's what Okay, brilliant, have a look at this fabric, have a look at that, you know, just there, we'll still use it, I'm sure we will for the Australian customers and the guys abroad, but I certainly don't think it's going to make be a huge new part of our business. That's, that's really interesting, actually, because I, I did find that when I was on your website earlier and going through a few videos, thinking I got I really miss going into a tailors even if I'm just having a kind of shop around, you know, the sitting down the talking, you know, the whiskey, there's a great little video where you're showing your dog Monti kind of bright by the fireplace. As I it's these things that you can't really replace, and you can't put into words as an effect, it's the feeling that you get like the smell of a place like it might even be the smell of a, you know, a nice armchair. So that is one of the kind of elements it's a sensory experience when you go to a tailors. And yeah, I think people are really missing that. I know. They do and it is an experience. I mean, that's the whole is an experience. That's that's the whole thing. We try and sell that. I mean, we were people just coming in, got the big TV and they're so like it would have been today the crickets on the cricket would have been on people use news come in their guests in the show room from seeing other people in the consultation room and Monte comes and sits down next to them. They come say hello to him have a coffee, just chat Say hi. Possibly bumping somebody else says that, you know, it just creates this lovely sort of feel. And you miss it. Yeah. Well, we all were a tactile species. Yeah, I think that's I had a chat to customer on the phone yesterday and we were just talking about it a bit older and he said, you know, during the war when he was younger, and he said it didn't you could still go and hug people you know, it was worse obviously. And but he said you know when there was bad news when things weren't going well you could you still could go and hug someone you could actually physically hurt and that was a huge important huge important thing. And we can't do that now and I think yeah, I think people underestimate that that's missing that really anything yeah yeah but i know i am i'm sure loads of other people too. Tom talk a little bit about please the sort of bespoke element of the business is Shawn and she does she just the the one girl band putting the garments together What do you outsource it to other tailors etc. When it gets busy? How does that work? We've got we've had we have what rooms up in Leeds and then we've got Shawn upstairs and then there's another girl who works for me but is in London at the moment. And Oh another guy who's home but he's in Herefordshire. So we sort of seize the moment is a bit of a hit but it works you know there they go with the machines at home and things it works on that side having people with Sharon upstairs it's just it's just sit you know I love seeing it's like I miss going to the meals I miss seeing the fabric being produced I miss the smells the sort of the bars the noise that and I think that's what what it does I'm missing customer obviously missing customers it's it's but yeah, so we haven't to outsource leads we do make some stuff in France fix our shirts in France we have got a potential to make abroad if need be as well. And then we make on structure things bits upstairs and other bits in London as well. We've got another work room we work with a with a chap who I've known for seven or eight years who used to do it retired but still makes for me so and you go to London as well with trunk shows and various samples and stuff like that still so well when the world goes back to spending. Yeah, we still have a sort of full visiting service. So I do spend time in London up north as well down in South West. I'll go everywhere really as long as if Lucas was all over the place. So it just seems the more people prefer coming to the studio really and go to the showroom than they have done for a long time but yeah, we sell visiting services nice highlights nice get out. And how's the women's were going has that always been an arm of the business was that introduced later on when chondroid that was introduced later on. We used to do the odd bits and pieces And we did a lot of coats were wise the customer said lock was amazing coat that I've had for years any chance you can copy in a different fabric layer that's fine so we do that and then with Sean on board we started developing a ladies were more of a made toward a rather than a bespoke initially right but that's grown into a full bespoke range as well now but it's it's it's something that we were seeing more of we've had to retrain for female bodies and different formats and it is a completely different it is but it's great because sometimes women can be a little bit more adventurous over their clothing so yeah, it was it was just it just seemed natural thing to bring on and we were really going to do a huge launch during December and and things and but just Butler The character his wife was going to come on board and help as well. But we've had to put that on hold until we get whenever we can but hopefully it'll be spring Yeah. Well some people in the meantime can check out the website obviously barrington.co.uk and Instagram as well Barrington add to follow the journey. And I wish you I wish you all the best of luck. Um, you know, I'm sure you'll come out stronger on the other side of this and we'll well we're certainly enjoy coming down to the shop if people are even visiting. Cirencester or Cheltenham is a nice place to go and hang out and yeah. So if you could only pick one rounder for your your captain of the England team, Tom Yeah, and you're only allowed to have one all rounder? Is it gonna be Ben Stokes? Andrew Flintoff or Ian bowfin. I think it's gonna be Stokes. I think stakes is a step above Flintoff was great in his in his pomp, but he never really excelled. He never got quite where he should have been. Especially with the bat with the dat. Yeah, yeah, I don't think he had and I think Stokes has just got something that is ridiculous. Really? Well, you know. I don't think you I don't think anyone could quite I mean, there's some pretty talented characters out there. But there's something when he can use a proper game changer. You can just turn it around out of nothing. Yeah, yeah, I think it would be steaks. Yeah. Where are you when we won the one day or the one day, World Cup. So I was I was at home Actually, I was I was here. And my wife was giving me abuse because the tennis was kicking off upstairs, and two or three young kids and they were all causing havoc in the bar. And she's like, cause is the World Cup final. And then they were sitting in the bar. And actually, when we won she's and so what was that and it was a roar went off all the way down the street, he suddenly realised how many people were watching it. And this sort of Yeah, it was extremely extraordinary. I mean, talk about drama, and you couldn't have written any better. It was great as as in the pub with my girlfriend and we were watching the tennis so they had the tennis final on and memory serves it's in the Dow and Federer might screw that up. I think it was the Dow Federer and it was like one of them five setter ongoing things. And we've got the cricket going on the other TV. And of course, the whole pub is watching the cricket and now I'm giving us about the tennis for my girlfriend who's watching tennis and doesn't give to us about cricket. I was constantly trying to explain to her the joys of cricket is that everything keeps coming down to the last ball and it's a draw and then it's an extra over and it's been so everything was culminating like it was like the perfect melting pot of things going right for England and I said look you'll never see anything like this ever again. This is just like the one off of one off and I got it on video I love to what's happened to you when we actually won the whole pub just explodes explodes for like a whole minute. It's my girlfriend she's just sitting down Go get me the hell out of it. I don't know. It was it really was just because we're very lucky. We make stuff adjust Butler and he is possibly one of the nicest people in the world ever. And I just sent him a WhatsApp but you know think of things so unbelievable and he and he always always replies wherever he is in the world whatever it always says thank you may not expect him to reply doesn't get millions but he just said and it was just he of anything just replied to say I can't believe that just unreal. And that was it. I just think yeah, it was a moment what I thought you're gonna say you text him while he's batting and he still just pulled out one of his pads. I could use my fingers and thumbs if I wanted to just standing them pacing around the folder. Oh my word. Oh my word. Oh, well, I'm gonna have to relive it. I'll have to send you the video that but I'll do I know any excuse to relive those again. It's brilliant. In the meantime, Tom, thanks for jumping on Barrington air, Dakota, UK place to stop by and certainly have a look at some of the ready to wear sections as well. That's Yeah. And it's on Instagram. And we've just launched the new jumpers that we was the sort of thing for this for this lockdown these new Submariner jumpers were making in Macclesfield. So the belt fell onto them this month as well. So yeah, and did I notice there was a chance to win one of those over there is there is there is a competition online on the website. So that goes on until the end of the month when they're when they will come out. Awesome. Great. Yep, people can definitely go and check that out. So um, thanks for taking time out of your weekend, mate. And thanks so much. Very nice to meet you. And hopefully Oh, yeah, Speak to you soon. You too. Take care of it. Thank you. How about that? Or should I say how's that. As you can appreciate, I could have talked to Tom for hours about cricket, and the eternal joys it can bring him in. And as a special treat. I'm going to play you about 30 seconds or so of that clip that I alluded to when I was talking to Tom. In a moment when England beat New Zealand to win the men's World Cup for the first time after one of the most amazing games of cricket ever played. It was tied twice Would you believe in an emotional and electric atmosphere at Lourdes both sides score 241 in their 50 overs and a level on 15 when they batted for an extra over a piece in England were crowned world champions by virtue of having scored more boundary fours and sixes 26 to New Zealand 17 in the entire match, I mean, what a way to win a game. So you'll forgive the bad language. None of it for me, I might add, but as you might expect, emotions were running high. Cricket, ladies and gentlemen. So I could go on about the ashes victory in 2005. Maybe I'll tell you more about that another time another place. In the meantime, make sure you're supporting the good guys head over to www.bearington.co.uk treat yourself or your loved one to some awesome high quality shirts, suits, masks, etc. And that's it for my end. Thanks for tuning in. If you like what you're hearing, do leave us a review. It does help our egos and until next time