Interview with Phoebe Gormley

 HøFSisters were delighted to get an exclusive interview with the inspirational Phoebe Gormley, founder of the first women’s tailors in Savile Row’s history, Gormley & Gamble. At just 23 years old she has made Forbes 30 Under 30 and proven herself as a British entrepreneur to be reckoned with. Read about her route to success and why we should all have a few pieces of beautiful, bespoke tailoring in our wardrobes.

When did you first know you wanted to be a tailor?

I started interning on Savile Row aged 15, and have always been fascinated by tailoring. I enrolled to study Costume Design at university but felt so unstimulated and unenthused by the lack of contact time. I began to draw up business plans for a women’s only tailor and soon realised that as well as being a viable option, there was a real want and need for beautiful, bespoke classics for women. I submitted the business plan to my parents on a Friday, and by Monday was down in London looking for suppliers.

Who was your inspiration when you started out?

Donna Ida of Donna Ida Denim is one of my main inspirations and mentor. She knows her brand inside out. When I first went to visit her, she looked me up and down and handed me a pair of jeans. They fit perfectly. I’ve barely taken them off since! I also really admire Angela Ahrendts, the only female executive of Apple.

How did it feel to become the first female tailor on Savile Row?

It was a pretty amazing feeling, I have to be honest, something I’d dreamed of since I was a young girl dressing up in my dad’s suits! It all happened so quickly as well, so I barely had time to pinch myself. Savile Row is a wonderful street and it is a privilege to work on it.

Reminiscent of famed entrepreneur, Richard Branson, you shunned further education to set up your business at just 20 years old. With the benefit of hindsight, what advice would you give to aspiring young entrepreneurs considering doing the same?

My first piece of advice is that it really isn’t for everyone. You have to graft, and you have to graft hard. Running your own business is incredibly rewarding, but it comes with a lot of responsibilities and sacrifices. With the gift of hindsight I would probably advise other entrepreneurs that it is okay to ask for help. I didn’t when I first started out and now see that learning and growing from the experiences and advice of other is one of the key ways of growing and strengthening your business.

At just 23 years old, you have established a successful, game-changing business and this year made the prestigious Forbes 30 under 30. What’s next?

There’s so much in the pipeline – where to begin! I’d love our own store, so that’s a big project for the next year. We’re also having a bit of a re-brand, and will be launching some very exciting new ranges, similar to our E.L.B.D or Every Day Little Black Dress, where customers are able to input their measurements into our website and have a dress made to their measurements. We’ve got some really great collaborations coming up too – but I’m afraid you’ll just have to watch this space for now, my lips are sealed! Towards the end of the year, possibly as a pre-Christmas event, I’d love to host a pop-up shop for female-run businesses. Working in the start-up field you meet so many incredible women with fantastic ideas, and I think we all need to work together to give them the exposure they deserve. A pop-up shop would be a brilliant chance to showcase some of the beautiful brands that many of us currently don’t, but should, know about.

How would you describe the typical G&G client, and what are the common motivations for seeking tailored pieces?

Our typical client is usually around 30 years old and professional. She will probably start coming to us for a work-related item; maybe a new suit or similar. However, once she realises the scope of what G&G can produce she’ll order all sorts through us; cashmere coats with fox fur collars, dresses for Ascot or slinky evening tuxedos. The possibilities are endless. The main motivation for seeking tailored pieces is probably fit. So many of our customers are tired of trawling the high-street for ill- fitting, poor quality garments. We’ll work with them to design pieces that flatter and fit all the right places, advising on cut, shape and drape of fabrics. We have a few very clever tricks up our sleeves!

Many of our readers are tall women for whom off the peg clothes may not fit but perhaps worry about the cost of bespoke tailoring. What advice would you give to them about how to create the perfect wardrobe?

Learn what shapes and colours suit you – and stick to them. Tailors are great at advising on shape, but you can also do a little research online. And don’t be upset if every fashion doesn’t suit you, look to build a wardrobe of classic cuts and pieces that you can then incorporate seasonal trends into. I totally agree that buying bespoke pieces isn’t cheap, but they are such a worthwhile investment in terms of fit and also lifetime. A bespoke item of clothing basically has a lifetime guarantee – the quality of fabrics and materials used in their make ensures this.

Finally, how would you describe your personal style and do you have any rules which you apply to your own wardrobe?

I would say my personal style is pretty classic. I do have a lot of tailored pieces in my wardrobe, but I like to try and add a sense of fun to how I dress. For example, I recently added tassels to the ankle of a pair of black suit trousers – I wear them all the time and always get asked where they are from! Colour-wise, I love pinks and greys, with a pop of orange of neon yellow. In terms of my own rules, I have quite broad shoulders, so I’ll look to designs which don’t accentuate them – like wide lapel jackets or certain necklines.


See how HøFSisters styled their bespoke Gormley & Gamble silk shirts in our upcoming post.

Bespoke women's silk shirts from Gormley & Gamble