Phoebe: Owner of Gormley and Gamble (The first women’s only tailors in the history of Savile Row)
I started interning on Savile Row at 15, following all the old hats around and learning as much as I could. Once I had finished school I decided to take what seemed the natural next step, and enrolled to study Costume Design at Nottingham Trent University. Turns out it wasn’t for me. I had one hour of lectures a week, with most of the course being ‘self-taught’. It just wasn’t the stimulating learning environment I was after. At the end of my second year I quit, taking my final year’s tuition fees and used them to start my own women’s tailor, hence the ‘gamble’ in the name.
I submitted a business plan to my parents on a Friday, and by Monday was down in London looking for suppliers. I think my courage came from my frustration at my course, and also the realization that after years on Savile Row, women were interested in tailored classics, and wanted fresh, elegant and intelligent designs to see them through from boardroom to bar. I thought, if I don’t do it now, then surely someone else will. I once read an interview with Natalie Massenet, were she said she had an idea for takeaway coffee bars – pre-Starbucks – but anyone she turned to for investment said it wouldn’t work. Of course, Starbucks then hit it big time and she vowed to never give up on another idea again. I didn’t want to be one of those people failed to pursue their passion, so I threw all I had into Gormley and Gamble.
On what makes Gormley and Gamble different
We are lucky because we really aren’t as trend-lead as other ready-to-wear brands. A lot of our customers come in with a very clear idea of what they want; an item of clothing they’ve formed in their head over years and years of shopping but have never been able to find. These are always the really timeless, beautiful pieces – essentially they’ve been years in the making and then we get to make to it a reality! It’s one of the reasons I love bespoke tailoring.
That being said, it is always fun to create some really fashion-forward pieces; it gives our tailors and me the chance to show off a bit. I’m currently working on a white, grey and acid yellow tuxedo; inspired by an art installation I saw at one of Alexander McQueen’s last shows.
Our price point also differentiates us from a lot of the tailors on the Row. We use laser-cutting technology to cut all patterns in a matter of seconds, which can take days if done by hand. This also reduces human error and is why you can get one of our tuxes (fabric dependent) for under £1,000.
On dealing with rejection
I do find rejection hard, but hopefully I’m toughening up a bit. I try to take something positive from everything I do – even rejection. I’ll ask myself ‘Why didn’t that work out, what can I do differently next time…’ Easier said than done but you’d be surprised by what you can learn from the toughest of times. One of the hardest things about being a CEO is balancing my responsibilities and my clients. My customers are the main reason I started Gormley & Gamble, and I want to make sure I always have time for them, even on top of a mountain of paperwork and other admin to complete.
On dreams and goals
It is great to have fantastic, huge end-goals, but I try and set myself targets within these to make everything seem a bit more manageable. I definitely encourage dreaming but sometimes the dream can seem overwhelming, as you may loose track of the steps it takes to get there.
On that note, one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given is this quote:
‘Harness your fear and use it drive you, not scare you, from where you are now to where you want to be.’
On the evolution of Gormley and Gamble
For starters, the team has tripled! We’re now a team of 5 in house with 25 out of house makers.
Since moving to Mayfair, we’ve also seen a new breed of customer come through our door. We still do plenty of two-pieces for our corporate clients, but this winter was especially fun designing cashmere coats with fur collars and such like for local shoppers.
Plans for the future include launching a new shopping concept – a department store stocked solely by female entrepreneurs. But that’s another story, so stay tuned!
Where to find Gormley and Gamble: