5 mins with 'Shopkeeper', James Priestley…

5 mins with 'Shopkeeper', James Priestley…

About us…

James Priestley, Shopkeeper, William Crabtree & Sons

James Priestley who likes to call himself the ‘shopkeeper’ at William Crabtree & Son's Marylebone store, is also the great, great, great-grandson of the original William Crabtree, who started his eponymous Mill in Yorkshire in 1835. While the surname has changed over the generations, the company’s commitment to quality manufacturing and love of British style is stronger than ever.

James has worked with some of the most acclaimed Savile Row and Jermyn Street tailors as well as for several iconic British clothing manufacturers and brands.

From visiting the family mill in West Yorkshire with his father as a small boy; through to studying Textiles at University and with the Savile Row Bespoke Association; quality and style have been running through James' sartorial veins all his life.

James Priestley, Shopkeeper,
William Crabtree & Sons

What is your mission with William Crabtree & Sons?
To develop and grow a truly sustainable business. To create timeless pieces that don't cost the earth, figuratively or metaphorically. Concentrating on natural fibres, we create seasonal collections. To evolve slowly and maintain our high standards of service and quality. To keep pushing our collections forward to be relevant to how we live our lives.

Tell us about opening your own store in 2020…
It was a strange time, covid had just started Jan/Feb and we opened in June. Lots of unknowns but I felt it was the right time for us. Online is fantastic but I firmly believe there is a big place for bricks and mortar retail.

Why did you choose the location?
Such a cliché but Marylebone has such a village feel, actually it is more than a feel, it is a village. You can buy anything and everything from lots of independent shops like us. That and I do love Georgian architecture so New Quebec Street felt like home as soon as I saw it.

What three principles do you have in mind when designing collections?
1. Fit & Layering: being able to wear each item together, we can dress men from head to toe and everything works together. For instance, our trousers are a neat fit, not bellow-ey nor tight fitting and they sit with our shirts which are not slim fit or baggy - cut straight for a well fitting look.
2. Colour: having fun with colours, developing wearable colours that pop.
3. Quality: considering on every piece/item we develop, is this the best we can make? We work hard to uncover small workshops and work together to ensure we make the best we possibly can.

What do you look for in the brands you curate?
We only have a couple and they are both specialists in their field, Cubitts and Unimatic. Both companies I admire and offer expertise in their field.

How would you describe the William Crabtree aesthetic?
A combination of Town and Country, taking the best of both. The practicality and comfort of the country and the cut and feel of the city - a convergence of both places all presented in a relaxed, contemporary environment.

Three favourite pieces in store now?
- A slightly old classic now but our Navy and Ecru striped rugby shirt - a go-to for me.
- Chambray linen shirt - can be worn very casually or more formally and ideal for holidays.
- And... on the theme of holidays our Burnham Green trunks.

What's next for William Crabtree & Sons?
To keep doing what we are doing but enabling more people to see it, I really feel we are on the right track, making beautiful things. To keep improving online and New Quebec Street so we can share the joy of what we do with a wider audience.

This or That….
City or Country? Both!
Loafers or Lace-Ups? Loafers
Stripes or Checks? Stripes
Winter or Summer? Winter - without rain!
Jeans or Chinos? Chinos

The vision of William Crabtree & Sons taking shape, history and modernity colliding in Marylebone with Inspiration coming from all over the world...

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