“I Love to See Men Well Dressed”
Ruby Vestey loved the elegance of timeless men’s garments so decided to take the plunge and founded Marmaduke London
Article by Rupert Watkins
A graduate of London College of Fashion, Ruby Vestey was always drawn to the more timeless nature of men’s style and clothing, “it’ just more sustainable, I found the obsession with fast fashion so sad in womenswear. I love the idea a father and son can wear the same thing, the whole tradition of handing beautifully made garments down from one generation to the next.”
Founded in 2017, Marmaduke London, like many newer brands, is the result of happy happenstance between Ruby’s vision and initial enthusiasm and appetite for her designs. She designs the print for her ties and the cuff lining of her shirts; having long loved the creative process of sketching out ideas and designs she had a few sample ties run up that proved to be popular, “from those exploratory items, we went from there” she smiles.
With her focus on sustainability and long-lasting style, Ruby was determined to use UK workshops to manufacture her garments, “I want to know the companies and the people who make my clothing, I want that relationship to be meaningful” she says, “for example my gillet maker is London based so not only can I pick up the phone to him, I can pop round the workshop and we can solve issues and refine a design on the spot.” Marmaduke’s shirts are made in the Midlands and Ruby uses a small workshop in Kent to make her ties.
From those first ties, Ruby expanded into gillets, focusing on using British wool and again drawing and painting the designs for the colourful linings herself. “I wanted to create something timeless – a gillet that would look at home in either town or country” she says, “the wool and cashmere is sourced in Scotland and woven in Yorkshire – I knew I wanted everything to be as 100 per cent as pure and natural as possible.” Nehru collared, Ruby’s range of wool, linen or velvet gillets offer a smart and elegant edge to this useful spring and autumn wardrobe staple; natty enough to wear over a shirt and tie on the more traditional shooting line or with jeans for a laid-back urban brunch.
Her shirts are driven by the same laid back, stylish and timeless ideas. Generously cut for comfort, Ruby again uses her own prints in the collar and insides of the cuffs to give a flash of distinctive colour. She uses horn buttons for her shirts – sourced from Scotland – to give them a different, vintage inspired feel. Ranging from lightweight summer linen to a recently introduced thicker brushed cotton for the colder months, there is a laid-back shirt to suit all seasons and tastes. All the spread collars though have sufficient fusing to be worn with or without a tie in smarter environments meaning the shirt can effortlessly move from casual country lunch to an elegant assignation in the Connought’s Coburg bar.
The latest addition to the Marmaduke London range is the full jacket; based on the gillets, they are also Nehru collared, “I wanted to create a piece with a real heritage feel but having that updated, relevant edge” observes Ruby, “it’s focusing on the details, for example, all the sleeves have full working cuffs.”
As the brand has quietly built up a kernel of enthusiastic clients, Ruby has seen ever more interest from women, who already make up about 45 per cent of her audience when buying gifts for boyfriends and husbands. Though she knows her gillets appeal to female customers as well, there’s that constant balance with, “wanting to keep the Marmaduke offering tight and focused.” As a new brand, Ruby has always been digitally focused but still sees the usefulness of the occasional stand or pop up, “they’re still important as you humanise your brand; you meet repeat and new customers and receive feedback and ideas.” As such – especially given the country feel of Marmaduke’s wares – Ruby has taken a stand at Burghley and other game fairs, does the Spirit of Christmas fair at Kensington Olympia and is looking at doing at number of small local pop ups near her Shepherd’s Bush studio.
Ties remain Ruby’s core seller but looking forwards she is looking to considerably expand her shirt selection, offering a greater colour range in linen and is considering some printed shirts. With a sustainably best of British manufacturing focus and smart, easy wearing staples it’s easy to see why Marmaduke London is quietly gaining fans.