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Savile Row’s First Lady: Phoebe Gormley’s Bespoke Revolution
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Savile Row’s First Lady: Phoebe Gormley’s Bespoke Revolution

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Gormley and Gamble

Phoebe Gormley is the creative powerhouse behind the renowned bespoke tailor, Gormley and Gamble. Situated on Savile Row in Mayfair, London, Gormley and Gamble blend classic sophistication with modern traditions, breaking down barriers and merging femininity with strength.

Inspired by her grandmother, a devoted seamstress in South Africa, Phoebe embarked on her tailoring journey at a young age. Her belief in a market for women’s tailoring, influenced by her grandmother's craft, led her to Savile Row, where she brought a new confidence and flair to the sector.

In the elite world of couture, where innovation and exclusivity reign, Phoebe shines as a beacon of elegance and inclusivity. Gormley and Gamble meticulously tailor each garment to reflect the wearer's unique style and personality.

Phoebe’s feminist approach to fashion caters to 70% of couples opting for non-traditional bridal wear and offers free custom embroidery to brides during Pride Month. Inclusivity and affordability are central to Gormley and Gamble’s made-to-measure business model, opening doors for women seeking opulence.

Dedicated to sustainability, the bespoke tailor produces zero-waste garments, donates unused items to charities, and supports the Red Cross in Ukraine with profits from used goods.

Once told she was too young for a male-dominated field, Phoebe now inspires the next generation of designers and business leaders. With a relentless drive to push limits, Gormley and Gamble and its diverse range of fabrics are set to shape the future of luxury tailoring for years to come.


Gormley and Gamble | Transforming Savile Row

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Photo by Gormley and Gamble

You have had a passion for womenswear since age 13. Who were you inspired by during these adolescent years?

You might expect me to list famous fashion designers or an old movie star. Still, my grandmother most inspired me in South Africa — she was a genuinely talented and devoted seamstress. I grew up watching her apply her craft and developing a fascination with how seemingly ordinary bits of fabrics and trim lying around her kitchen table could become a fabulous fitted blouse or a dress that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the window of Harvey Nichols or Liberty. My family and I still have some of those items hanging in our wardrobes today. I think we can all learn a lesson from that — the fashion world has never been short on creativity, but somewhere along the way, quantity becomes more important than quality, and we want to do our bit to change that.

Why do you think it is essential for women to have their tailors to empower and promote women as innovative business leaders?

Many academic studies have proven that first impressions in a business context are formed within a second or 2 — before you’ve even had the chance to speak. I’m not suggesting clothing is the only factor in making the right impression, but it is part of the mix. Whether they’re meeting with investors, clients, or the media, female leaders still have to battle with gender bias on so many levels in those ‘first impression’ moments — so, we say, why let your choice of clothing work against you when there’s so much else you have to deal with! At G&G we are intent on levelling up the field: even today, women are still disadvantaged when sourcing quality and good fit. See for yourself: if you search for business suits for men on a major brand’s website, you’ll likely get over 25 size variations around length, waist, etc. Look at their equivalents for women — if you’re lucky, they’ll have 6 sizes, even though we have a more excellent range of body shapes.

What challenges did you face in establishing Gormley & Gamble as a woman owned and woman-focused business on Savile Row?

My years spent training on Savile Row were invaluable — I’m honoured to have learnt my trade surrounded by such incredible history and craftsmanship. Still, when I started to look into the feasibility of a service exclusive to women, I was initially told that women are “too challenging to please” and more interested in having a larger quantity of mass-produced ‘polyblend’ rather than investment pieces. I thought that was perhaps a little out-of-date, you know… some women choose quality over quantity, and some don’t, just as some men prefer quality over quantity and some don’t.

There were many other challenges along the way. Before opening Gormley & Gamble Ltd, my original business plan involved one particular supplier who, after launching, backtracked on their quoted costs and wouldn’t work with me as I was “too young”. But my unshakeable belief that there was a market for women’s tailoring got me through those tough early days, along with many in the industry who helped me out — and my first client, of course, who I will be eternally grateful to: she was the Chief Executive of Virgin Money. She bought 12 items on my first day!

Photo by Gormley and Gamble

How does Gormley & Gamble merge luxury fashion with sustainability and limit its carbon footprint, considering fashion is the second largest contributor to climate change?

That’s an easy one to answer: our entire business model is based around zero-waste, so unlike most major ready-to-wear brands who are, frankly, playing around the edges of sustainability improvements, our claims in this space are inherent to what we do: we only make what people want, when they want it, and we make it to fit. Allow me to explain…

First, the very model of mass-manufactured fashion, with its continual guessing of what might sell on increasingly short cycles, means that a considerable proportion of what is made is never actually sold and ends up in landfills or incinerated.

Secondly, returns. Did you know that around half of clothing returns never get re-stocked? It’s often cheaper for the brand to order more from a factory in Asia than re-process the item to put back on the shelves. Most of these returns end up in landfills – and ‘poor fit’ is the biggest reason for returns. Since we custom-make all items to the client’s measurements, we’re dealing with the problem at the source. Nothing goes to waste with us: our silk eye masks are made with offcuts left over from linings or shirts, and if we do have unused items, we’ll donate them to a charity or do a sample sale — like we did to raise money for the Red Cross in Ukraine.

We also avoid the plastic-based fabrics that fast fashion has come to depend on (polyester, nylon, and so on) and instead prioritise natural fabrics such as wools, silks, tweeds, or linen from British, Irish, and Italian mills—which also means they’re not being shipped halfway across the planet.

With almost 70% of couples embracing “non-traditional” wedding attire, did you intend for Gormley & Gamble to revolutionize bridal fashion for women?

I think it was much more customer-led than something we expressly set out to do. We had so many brides-to-be who came to us saying they didn’t want a “meringue dress” — their words, not mine! But they still wanted something that felt special and luxurious. Traditions are still valued, maybe just differently. For example, a recent poll indicated that almost 70% of our followers either did or intend to incorporate ‘something blue’ into their bridal outfit, and traditional ivory is still a hugely popular choice. What I love about this job is knowing that if one of our brides invests in an ivory trouser suit, she can continue to use it for many years to come — potentially the jacket with jeans & boots for days in the office. Or the trousers with heels and a cashmere jumper for a weekend away.

Having already offered free custom embroidery for brides during Pride Month, how will Gormley & Gamble celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community this year?

Well, that was wildly popular, so we have extended it! It’s such a nice personal touch — having the initials of the happy couple and their wedding date subtly embroidered on the inside lining of a jacket is such a discrete but lovely personal touch. It also serves as a reminder of your special day for many years to come. Baby blue was the most popular colour for embroidery — what was I saying about tradition! We haven’t yet confirmed specific events for Pride Month as it has been one of our busiest times of the year — but we’re always open to suggestions regarding celebrations, so drop us a note with ideas!

Photo by Gormley and Gamble

How do your suits differ from those of other tailors on Savile Row, besides being exclusively designed for women?

It’s not so much a case of saying ‘we’re better’ as Savile Row is the pinnacle of tailoring, and we’re proud to be a part of it. For us, it’s about doing a better job of catering for women’s needs and desires. Several things set us apart.

Firstly, we make much more than suits, which plays into the capsule wardrobes and individuality that are arguably more important to women than men. If you want a copy made of an old dress you loved but in a new colour to go with a coat you’ve bought, we’ll do it. If you don’t know what to wear under your jacket, we’ll help with that, too—so you’re creating an outfit, not just an item.

Secondly, we offer bespoke (where everything is designed from scratch) and made-to-measure womenswear, which is unusual. Made-to-measure is a selection of our most popular designs in a smaller range of stocked fabrics, making it a more affordable option. This means we can cater to a larger range of budgets: for example, our made-to-measure trousers start at around £400, which is not much more than you might pay on the premium end of the ‘high street’. The difference is it will fit like a glove, rather than just having to take a punt on whether 1 of 5 or 6 size variants might suit you.

Perhaps more than anything, it’s about women not being the side show. We get many clients who say they’d recently been to a (men's) tailor who advertised womenswear too but did not live up to the experience. For example, being shown a range of grey fabrics or having no actual womenswear samples to try on. Simply making variations to a men's suit design — like adding some darts — rarely leads to an excellent outcome for women — our body shapes and postures are so different. We’ve built our entire experience around women, whether that’s the design, the rainbow-full of colours in our swatch books, or just avoiding slightly awkward moments by having your inside leg & bust measurement taken by a female fitting specialist!



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Last Updated on June 6, 2024 by Editorial Team


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