As Paul Trible’s guide and mentor, master tailor Robert Emmett taught Paul nearly everything that he knows about shirtmaking. With a career spanning over two decades and operating four bricks-and-mortar locations throughout London, including a store on the famed Jermyn Street, Robert is one of the city’s finest shirtmakers. Having worked alongside Paul Trible and Paul Watson, our two co-founders, since the earliest days of Ledbury, Robert is a good personal friend to our business and an important part in the story of our brand.
Earlier this month, we were honored to host Robert in Richmond for the first time in over two years. He traveled to Richmond to attend our third-annual Hunt / Gather and was a natural shot on the game field. The evening before the event, we decided to end the day a little earlier than normal and held a light conversation with Robert and all the members of our team over beers. Robert shared a few stories from his background in shirtmaking, opening his first made to measure shirt shop inside of a car garage that was below an apartment that he used to live in, and a hysterical account of his first encounter with Paul Trible at the Pig’s Ear pub in Chelsea, London — ask us about this one.
In addition to his stories, Robert touched on several lessons in good business that he’s learned from his exceptional career as a shirtmaker. Many of these fundamentals transcend shirtmaking and can be applied to many fields. Here are a few from the conversation:
1. Know what is good
“Get to know, like any specialist, what is considered good. When you define what is good, you can understand the differences between what is good and what is bad. You will be able to explain those differences to those who may not be aware of them.”
2. Work with the best
“The key to becoming the best is to collaborate with the best. The companies that I source my materials from have been making fabrics and textiles for over a hundred years. They’ve been operating for so long that they know what they’re doing almost by instinct. Because of this, they do what they do very well.”
3. Don’t cut corners
“No matter what, don’t cut corners and only compromise when it is absolutely necessary. If you cut corners, you will lose your clients’ trust in the process. Some businesses may be tempted to make something for nothing and sell it for a lot in an effort to increase margins, but people are smart. Clients will notice the changes and will turn away. When you cut corners, you will lose direction of why you got into that business in the first place.”
4. Respect what you do
“The key to longevity is to respect what you do and do it well. If you are new within an industry, you will have to explain to others what you are doing that’s different and why it’s better than what came before you. It will take time to teach people why you are better, but you will gain the confidence of your clients if you operate without compromising your ethics.”
Throughout the conversation, Robert frequently circled back to the importance of quality. According to Robert, “Quality is the main thing you want to respect.” This commitment is something that he instilled in the Pauls and has carried over into the products that Ledbury produces. It’s always a pleasure to have Robert in Richmond and we’re looking forward to the next time our paths meet.