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In Conversation with Sebastien and Dhiraj of Ascot X Charlie

Ascot X Charlie is an adventure which started in 2018 by a band of friends: unrepentant travellers, seeking out the finer things in life. They had experienced first-hand the difficulty in finding products that resonated with them and their values: products that struck the balance between elegant design, quality and durability - without compromising on their origin, raw materials or respect for the environment. And as someone wise once remarked, if you want something done well, do it yourself. And so the brand was born out of the quest for beauty and harmony, driven by an unflinching sense of optimism and positivity. They travelled tirelessly through Italy and Portugal in search of the best ateliers, and after long months of work and dozens of prototypes, their first capsule collection was launched. Given its remarkable success, the founders decided to expand the range of sneakers whilst holding on to that optimism - and the brand now continues to offer elegant, durable and versatile products that showcase the best of European craftsmanship.

In a recent episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interviewed Sebastien Laroze and Dhiraj Bathija, Co-Founders of Ascot X Charlie about their backgrounds and how they came together to build a brand together in 2018. Our host Peter Brooker and the Co-Founders talked about filling a gap in the market, tapping into creativity, why quality and durability is important for sustainability in footwear, self-funding a startup, working with ateliers, what makes the brand different to others in the market, and sneaker care hacks.

“My name is Sebastian, and I’m from the west coast of France, Brittany. I studied in Paris and have been living in a few different countries over the last 10 years such as China in Switzerland. I am now dedicating most of my time to what was initially a passion project. We both realised that it was time to tap into our creative energy a bit more, and as customers we wanted things that weren't available on the market for men. We started with sneakers but the whole idea really is that it's grown to a real lifestyle brand with an ethos of really good quality products made locally in Europe. One day I bought a pair of sneakers for about 200 euros, and they literally gave way in one week. The leather and the stitches started tearing which was shocking. Customers will pay good money for things that are advertised as good quality products. The quality of our sneakers is what makes them so special. We wanted to make sure they were built to last and genuinely use premium material. They’re all handcrafted by artisans, and they're stitched, not glued to the insoles. It takes at least 6 to 7 man hours to make a pair of our sneakers, and it's almost 200 steps that they need to go through to be completed.”

This is a shortened transcribed edit of episode 147 of the MenswearStyle Podcast with Sebastien Laroze and Dhiraj Bathija, co-founders of ascotandcharlie.com. You can listen to the full version below or listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favourite podcast player.

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