Carolyn Springett, CEO of heritage men’s tailoring business New & Lingwood, speaks to Drapers about fuelling growth and maintaining heritage for the 152-year-old brand.
Founded in 1865, gentlemen’s outfitters New & Lingwood is a small but prestigious tailoring business. Known for dressing the students of Berkshire’s Eton College, the heritage brand also crafts premium menswear from its stores on London’s Jermyn Street and the Piccadilly Arcade, as well as its branch in Eton. Shirts cost from £75 and suits from £995.In December the brand launched a pop-up shop in New York, as it seeks international expansion. Drapers speaks to CEO Carolyn Springett, who joined the business in 2016, to find out how she is building on the brand’s rich history to fit it for the modern shopper.
What’s your background? How did you come to be working in fashion?
I have been in retail since I started my career. I started life focused on the design and creative side of the business but found that the commercial side of the industry not only interested me, but that I really enjoyed it. I gravitated towards that, initially working in large public corporate high street businesses, starting at Marks & Spencer then moving into smaller, more premium, privately owned businesses, ultimately working in the luxury sector and being involved with private equity.
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How would you describe New & Lingwood?
New & Lingwood is a hidden gem of a business. It’s a brand with a big heart that has remained under the radar for decades – known principally to “insiders” and the Eton College community. We can dress a gentleman from top to toe.
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What drew you to a tailoring business?
For many years I have worked in brands that have both womenswear and menswear sides of the business, however, I found I was drawn to the discipline and evolutionary nature that is in premium quality menswear, rather than the sometimes rather fickle and “disposable” nature that can be womenswear.
Why do you think the business has managed to survive for over 150 years – what sets it apart?
Being part of a heritage English menswear brand that has had such a successful and interesting 152 years is fantastic. We know this is true because we know our customers well. We talk to them a lot – and they are not afraid to tell us what they think. New & Lingwood is a well-loved, quintessentially English, brand and we have an incredibly loyal clientele who are very important to us, but we have to ensure that we keep moving forwards and start reaching out to new customers. Our distinctive expression of “Englishness” is widely admired and desired globally – so we are using this as our springboard to the next stage of the brand’s journey and expansion.
What is your favourite aspect of the job?
I enjoy being able to apply my creative experience and knowledge to working with product and textiles, which I love, but can also apply that creativity to developing and driving the commercial side of the business.
Is there anyone in the industry you particularly admire?
Company founders who have the creativity, vision, tenacity and resilience to set up and run their own businesses. A great example is a great friend of mine, Jenny Holloway, [founder and director] of north London-based company, Fashion Enter. She has stood by her guns, advocating the need for skills training and the development of moral and ethical standards within the UK fashion and manufacturing industries for the last 15 years.
Favourite clothing brand
Margaret Howell – I love the authenticity, creativity and product quality.
Favourite places to shop
New & Lingwood, and vintage boutiques or auctions
Last fashion purchase
A gorgeous bright orange coat from N&L that was tailored especially for me
Skiing. I love the experience of being in the mountains ”on top of the world”, the fresh air, the exercise and the all-consuming focus on what I’m doing mentally and physically – which means it is the best type of holiday!
Last book you read
Women and Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard
Last film you watched
Goodbye Christopher Robin – charming and poignant
I started my working life in the more creative side of the business but then moved onto the more commercial side at Marks & Spencer, in product selection. My first department was men’s socks.
What would we find you doing at the weekend?
Working on the refurbishment of my place in the Lake District, sourcing the bits and pieces or seeking inspiration at museums and galleries during the day. Going to the theatre or ballet in the evening