I started my career in men’s fashion 27 years ago, working for one of the hottest names in the industry. At the time, we created a trend that was instantly embraced throughout the U.S. It was an exciting time. Our sales growth was explosive and customer feedback was universally positive. They loved our look and wanted more of it until one day they didn’t. Like all trends, ours died as our trend conscious customers moved on to a new look. Of course we produced new lines but none sparked the same kind of customer reaction and, before long, the company was sold and I was moving on to another manufacturer, eager to learn another part of this complex industry. I was quickly recruited to join one of the world largest menswear companies and assumed responsibilities for designing and manufacturing important parts of our product line. Unlike my trendy start, my new employer was a firmly established traditional menswear manufacturer who had an intense focus on delivering superior value to their customers. The company excelled at delivering excellent garments to the middle market customer on a very large scale. In order to maintain quality, while continuing to deliver value, my colleagues and I were charged with scouring the world to find the most efficient mills and factories to produce our clothing. Over a fifteen year period, I was fortunate to travel extensively throughout Europe and Asia, meeting with best and brightest minds in the garment industry. I would often come across a manufacturer whose skill and quality were off the charts. These were usually small factories where the owners were hands-on tradesmen whose life’s work was dedicated to being the best in class at what they did. There was no question that these manufacturers could produce luxury clothing equal to or superior than the biggest names in menswear. The small capacity of these factories limited their efficiency and, in turn, my ability to use them. Nevertheless, I always looked for opportunities to strengthen my relationships with them and, over the years, many strong friendships formed.
After an extremely successful run, our company was acquired by a large competitor who, like us, was firmly focused on the value conscious menswear customer. I was generously offered a similar position with our new owner but, after careful thought, I declined to move to our new headquarters. The acquirer was, and is, an excellent company with talented leadership but I decided that after twenty-seven years working with the best leaders in the business, it was time to see if I could succeed on my own. My strategy was simple; I would focus on leveraging my relationships with the best of the best to produce the finest menswear available regardless of the cost to manufacturer but I couldn’t ignore the cost to the customer. Everyone wants value in what they purchase and my strategy is to generate that value by minimizing the cost of marketing and retailing my clothing. I believe if I focus on a limited number of traditionally fashionable patterns, selecting the finest available material from the world’s most famous mills and use the best in class boutique factories to cut and sew the cloth, that my clothes will sell themselves. I hand-selected my team, focusing on highly experienced and driven individuals who share the same desire to create products of uncompromising quality. While the craftsmanship of a Master Tailor is a dying breed, I am incredibly fortunate to have on my team, the services and talent of John Ciambruschini, who began his career in Rome as a teenage apprentice in his father's shop in 1955. John epitomizes the word craftsman. Each of our suit patterns are hand-crafted by John. You will appreciate the skill and craftsmanship of a Master Tailor when you slip on one of our perfectly fitted suits.
While buying shirts and suits from a “website" is not new, it takes a small leap of faith from customers that there really is someone on the other side who cares and is committed to delighting each customer with every purchase. You can be assured that I see every order as it is placed and before it is shipped. If you are unsure about sizing or don’t see what you are looking for, just give us a call. We will be happy to help. If for any reason you are unhappy with your purchase, you can call me directly and I will handle your issue immediately.
The inspiration behind the name” Wilkes & Riley” comes from my many trips to London and evokes an English sensibility and classically timeless style found on the streets of Savile Row and Jermyn Street. The name “Wilkes” dates back to my family in England who ran a tailoring shop while "Riley" is derived from the "Life of Riley," which connotes the aspiration of life well lived. You do not need to visit the towns of St. James or Mayfair to have an appreciation for our brand. If your desire for quality is equally matched with a love for sophisticated elegance, you will find it here at Wilkes & Riley.
Just as I have built relationships over many years with my team of trusted suppliers, I hope to build similarly strong relationships with each of my new customers.
Steve Marshall, Founder and CEO