Gormley & Gamble on Savile Row is making a name for itself in bespoke womenswear. We meet its entrepreneurial founder, Phoebe Gormley
When Phoebe Gormley launched her semi-eponymous fashion brand back in 2014, it was risky. Bespoke, made-to-measure womenswear, in the style of a gentleman’s Savile Row tailor, just wasn’t something that had been done before. Gormley used her final year’s tuition money to get it off the ground, dropping out of university in the process – hence why ‘Gamble’ was added to the company name. Fast forward to today and it’s clear it has paid off.
Now, the only dedicated womenswear brand based on Savile Row custom makes suits, dresses, shirts – everything busy women could need, in hundreds of fabrics ranging from tweed and wool to chiffon and silk, designed and tweaked to be entirely bespoke. “Because we’re on Savile Row, people assume we just make workwear, but we make so many dresses,” says Gamble. “Our client base is a real mix of corporate and ladies of leisure.”
It offers a unique, quality product and seamless (pun intended) service: the head tailor spends an hour with a client, discussing her lifestyle, preferences, job and so on, before advising on shape, colour and fabric. Eight weeks later is a fitting, before adjustments are made and the items are couriered over to the customer.
Gamble started dressmaking for herself at the age of 14. “I lived in the middle of nowhere and had an insatiable appetite for fashion. My parents weren’t the type to buy me endless clothes, but if I was learning a skill they’d help out with fabric.” From there, she started customising her dad’s old suits to fit her. It was while out and about, strutting her stuff in bespoke menswear in her “teeny village”, she was told she’d better head to Savile Row. And off she went, doing internships there every summer from the age of 15 to 19. Now, at the ripe old age of 23, she’s never looked back.
“I was head over heels with Savile Row. The glamour, the Britishness, the craftsmanship. It’s the antithesis of the fast fashion we have today. I wanted to be able to wear the clothes I saw, and not just in a way that they were adapted to women, but made entirely differently to be totally feminine. So that’s what we did.”
It can’t have been easy, but Gormley is remarkably positive. “I really didn’t find it an obstacle being female; it almost didn’t cross my mind. What was actually harder was my age because some people thought I just didn’t have the experience.”
Gormley will go above and beyond for her best customers. A typical day – if there is one – includes walking her dog, Lunar, andworking until 9pm in back-to-back fittings, as many of her clients prefer post-work appointments, though her favourite part of her job is the design element. “I’m a problem-solver. When someone says they tend to wear these colours and have this body and need a dress for a wedding, I love that.” One Gormley & Gamble service, the Wardrobe M.O.T, involves her spending hours poring over a client’s existing wardrobe, helping to decide what needs tailoring, if there’s a jacket missing a matching skirt, or simply any items needing to be binned.
“I really didn’t find it an obstacle being female; it almost didn’t cross my mind. What was actually harder was my age
Fashion, says Gormley, isn’t frivolous. “Lots of our people are client-facing, and what you wear has a huge impact.” She takes inspiration from all over: Donna Ida with her jeans emporium, Angela Ahrendts at Burberry – “the coolest woman ever”.
As for best advice, it came from a Savile Row tailor. Gormley’s first business plan was a range of suits to sell in department stores, as she assumed she didn’t have the experience to go bespoke. Luckily, he told her to give it a go.
Gormley has plenty of proud moments to choose from for someone so young. “Having our hundredth customer – and being named on Forbes’ 30 under 30 this year was so exciting.” You wouldn’t imagine she has much time to relax, but when she does, the dream is “getting away to the Endsleigh Hotel in Devon. Gorgeous, but not so stuffy you feel you can’t walk around in your slippers.”
As for what’s next, Gormley & Gamble is collaborating with Jaeger to produce a jacket – “it has an amazing embroidered crest” – and will also be rolling out a range of set suit styles this summer, which can be mixed and matched for a more affordable, but still bespoke take on made-to-measure.
Phoebe Gormley is making strides in a traditionally male world. Dresses for women, through a service run by a woman, as more women in corporate roles need to be suited and booted? Gormley & Gamble is leading the way.