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IN CONVERSATION WITH WILLIAM GREEN OF L’ESTRANGE LONDON
Written by Menswear Style in Interviews on the 1st June 2020 / In Conversation with William Green of L’Estrange London
In a world of hyper-convenience and overconsumption L’Estrange London wants to strip away complexity from your everyday, allowing you to do more with less. Their modern clothing system comprises comfortable, timeless, versatile pieces that can be worn in multiple scenarios. They make clothes to look effortlessly smart for life - whether it be a coffee, a meeting, or drinks - never overdressed, never underdressed. This menswear brand believes the future of retail exists in creating more than just a regular store experience. With 'The L'Estrange Apartment' they collaborated with several different brands that reflect their aesthetic and ethos to create a home-from-home experience - a more relaxed space to explore their world and clothes.
The world is over producing, and the output of the textile industry has doubled in the last 15 years to 100 billion units per year. Most of this will end up in landfill and it’s being accelerated by our disposable mindsets and rapidly decreasing times garments are worn. We need to move to a place where we buy less and buy better. Season after season, traditional fashion says we should discard and buy more. Isn’t it time for change? L’Estrange London spend three times longer designing and testing their products, to create truly versatile and timeless clothes that do more. They design your clothes to last, and they want you to care delicately for them.
In a recent episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview L’Estrange London Co-Founder, William Green, about where the brand name originates from and the story of how the brand was born, which began with a simple smart and stylish men's hoodie. After reaching out and sending samples to fashion stores around the world - and attending clothing trade shows - they were quickly picked up and stocked by the likes of Colette, Saks Fifth Avenue, Isetan and The Shop at Bluebird. With a product design approach to menswear, they don't follow the seasonal approach the majority of the industry abides by. This direct-to-consumer brand is on a mission to simplify the male wardrobe with comfortable and effortless clothing which can be worn for most scenarios. Peter and William also discuss sustainability and how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected trading for L'Estrange London.
Please tell us about the brand name
“It comes from my rather left field middle name. When Tom and I were deciding on a brand name it was between L’Estrange and Chancellor, which is Tom’s middle name. In the end L’Estrange got the vote as it means the foreigner or the stranger in French, and we liked that idea.”
What were the steppingstones of getting the brand off the ground?
“We quite naively had this idea of redesigning the humble hoodie, which we thought was a very forgotten garment in men’s wardrobes. We figured we could design a product that was smart, stylish and you could wear it in lots of different environments. We went out to different parts of East London to source fabrics and zips. Neither of us had a background in fashion, so we had no specific experience, but we both shared an interest and love for fashion, products, and business. We launched this one product without a huge amount of strategy, but we did send out samples with handwritten notes to various stores around the world, and we were very fortunate to get picked up by some of them. We then started going out to fashion tradeshows with this collection of hoodies, and before we knew it, we were being stocked by stores in the US, Japan and UK. That was the first incarnation of the brand and we then set out to make more men’s products that fulfilled on the same simplicity objective. We were frustrated when speaking to buyers because we just didn’t get this whole seasonal model of fashion cycles that goes on. That led us to pull the plug entirely on what was our main business and set about to completely restructure our operation to be direct-to-consumer, and pursue our mission to simplify the male wardrobe. That meant hiring a new team and getting very radical on a different approach to growth and marketing.
"That was when the second chapter of L’Estrange London began. Our vision of fashion isn’t so much that everyone should be wearing the same clothes and not have any dimension to their wardrobe, but it is saying that 90% of the time you want to leave the house without having to think about what you’re going to wear. We looked at two macro trends – casualisation of society and the technology revolution that has driven the move away from the office. We’re always on the move, we’re time poor and we don’t really know where we’re going to end up in the evenings.”
This is a shortened transcribed edit of episode 60 of the MenswearStyle Podcast with William Green, Co-Founder of lestrangelondon.com. You can listen to the full version below or listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast player.