Turnbull & Asser is the quintessential British shirtmaker that has been dressing heads of state, style icons and stars of stage and screen in British-made shirts since 1885. It provided James Bond with his famous cocktail-cuff shirt in 1962’s Dr No; and, as Prince Charles’s favourite shirtmaker, they were awarded a Royal Warrant in 1980. The Jermyn Street mainstay is immensely proud of its British heritage, although its definition of Britishness has moved with the times. ‘We see our Britishness as defined by our creativity, eccentric spirit, openness, and appreciation of tradition,’ says Becky French, creative director.
Turnbull & Asser manufactures all its elegant and timeless shirts and ties in its English workshops in Gloucestershire, minimising its environmental impact and carbon footprint. This vertical supply chain came into its own during 2020, allowing the brand flexibility to broaden its product offering and meet customers’ new needs. The demand for formalwear may have slowed, but ‘holiday-fit’ shirts and less structured styles became more popular than ever – with customers pivoting to invest in beautifully made pyjamas, including women’s cotton-cashmere ones. Meanwhile, the brand’s bespoke experts made special journeys to conduct fittings safely, in the comfort of customers’ own homes.
They also swung into action on behalf of the wider community in its hour of need, answering the call to manufacture scrubs for NHS health workers, later introducing high-quality commuter masks available to purchase, which were a huge success, made as they were with the same integrity as a Turnbull & Asser shirt. Like many other brands forced to react swiftly, Turnbull & Asser repurposed its legendary personal service for the digital world, mirroring the level of experience its customers usually expect from its stores in London and New York. Virtual consultations, events and video links to the shop floor were set up; and workshops like How to Make a Mask were posted onto social media channels to entertain and engage existing customers and new.
As the world re-emerges post-vaccine, Turnbull & Asser is quietly expecting a sartorial revival, as people desperate to dress up and go out to parties and live events take the opportunity to refresh their wardrobes. With this in mind, the brand is reimagining its By Appointment Trunk Shows, taking an expanded collection of clothing and accessories on the road to hotels and fairs, so that customers have the chance to discover the Turnbull & Asser experience from a location nearer to home.
Meanwhile, the bespoke service, traditionally popular with buyers of exquisite business shirts, is being promoted as an opportunity for all customers to unleash their creativity. Bespoke shirts are completely customisable, choosing from over 1,000 fabrics, 25 collar and cuff options, 20 monogram styles and various collar linings – so there’s plenty of scope for self-expression.
Where once a bespoke Turnbull & Asser shirt might have needed an office to be seen in, nowadays a shirt tailor-made to reflect the true you will ensure that working from home – or indeed anywhere else – will never have been so effective.