Alex and Betty Wilcox are the husband and wife team behind the Nolita boutique Lord Willy’s. Alex a trained graphic designer and Betty a graduate of Central Saint Martins work together adding a sense of humor to men’s classics.
Where does the name Lord Willy’s come from?
It’s the alter ego, of an alter ego. Mine.
Let me explain. My surname is Wilcox. When the web first got going, I ordered some shirts from a London tailor. The information required offered a choice of titles, what the hell I thought and put “Lord Wilcox”. My friend was also ordering and he put “Captain Warren”. We found it very amusing to greet each other by our new titles. I even had my first email address as Lord Wilcox. It worked wonders at hotels and restaurants.
When it was time to name the business we were intending to call it “Lord Wilcox”, but and old pal of mine said “nah, what about Lord Willy’s”. We instantly loved it. It carries all the pomp, but with a sense of familiarity.
You’ve designed a humorous logo, the man in shirt, tie and jacket with umbrella, but no pants. What did you intend for it say about the brand?
We take our business very seriously, but not ourselves. Our design mantra is Classic English Tailoring, with a playful twist. So the logo (a bit like the name) shows a sense of British up-tightness, but also a willing to poke fun at ourselves.
Customizing suits and sports jackets at your price point is for a man that takes his clothes seriously. Where does the humor begin and end for you?
The men that come here appreciate our candid manner or they leave and we are fine with that. Betty and I like to enjoy ourselves and our clients they can be very interesting people. Our customer has the means to shop anywhere in the world and we like to make sure that they come back to us, we end up becoming quite close to some of them. As for the humor, I push it as far as it can go…sometimes slightly past, but not usually. If you can’t say what you like in your own store, what’s the point.
The shirts have fun details like colored buttons. Does this attract a certain type of gentlemen?
All walks of life, it’s amazing really. Each person wears them differently. We love it when we are in a restaurant and we spot one of our shirts. It’s very rewarding seeing the pleasure they bring to people.
Do you get requests for custom colors? Which is most popular?
Navy suits and blazers are by far the most popular color. They are always very sophisticated and allow other colors and accessories to breathe nicely.
Can you tell us a bit about the design process. How long the turn over is for a custom suit?
Custom is done by appointment only, prior to which we ask a few questions, such as “how you heard about us?”, “have you seen our style?”. We don’t like to waste people’s time or for ours to be wasted. If everyone seems to be on the same page we talk about their requirements. Betty and I then select fabrics that comply and maybe a couple that are a little different than the brief, but in our opinion could work. Once the decision is made, we measure-up. About 5 weeks later the client will return for his first fitting. The whole process from beginning to end is usually about 9 weeks.
You recently launched a line of children’s clothing, what inspired you to do so?
We wanted to break free from the incredibly precise nature of doing business at such a high level. We moved to a new location and we still had the first available, seemed like an opportunity too good to miss. Lord and Little next door to each other.
Do you think the customer is different then the adult shopping Lord Willy’s?
Very, it’s a little early to tell, but Little Willy’s is mostly Mum’s shopping for their little prince. Some Lord Willy’s clients are buying a shirt for their sons, but that’s not what the business is relying on.
Why did you decide to open a separate store rather than keep both collections under one roof?
Whilst grown men are just little boys with jobs, the two have very different dynamics.No grown man wants to shop in a kids store and I like beer too much.
Is there a future for Lady Willy’s?