Private White VC

 
As part of the series on new shop openings in London, today we’re focusing on Private White VC – the British factory and brand founded by James Eden in 2007, but with a new shop on Duke Street and a much-expanded offering.

First though, given the discussion around the first piece on Hardy Amies, let’s walk through what we’re analysing here. Unlike tailoring, shoemaking or most of the areas covered on Permanent Style, there is little craft to examine with casual RTW clothing. Seams can be neater, buttons can be more secure, but there is nothing so fundamental as floating canvases or bevelled waists. Quality is mostly about materials. That is why we will make mention such things as Ventile cotton, horn buttons or Harris tweed.

After that, it’s all aesthetics: design, shape, fit. This admits of less analysis, of course, and is more subjective. But we can still ask very similar questions, even if the answers are more vague.

For example, those interested in tailoring are more likely to be interested in fit – what it is, how it looks, what impression it gives. They are more likely to appreciate the longevity of materials, and the way they age. Style-wise, they are likely to favour more traditional cuts, and items which have a real provenance. This may be style-related, or it may reflect a desire to find more ‘permanent’ items of casual clothing – those that won’t look dated in 3-5 years’ time.
  

Private White VC jeep jacket

 
With that settled, let’s talk about Private White. Key message: great for coats and jackets. Very appropriate at the moment, and the range is big – from wool-lined DBs (the Jeep jacket above, £845) to shorter bombers and Harringtons.

As you’d expect given the Private White inspiration, and Nick Ashley’s predilections, all are drawn from traditional (largely military) designs, with bombers closely following the G1 flight jacket (£495) and the Jeep jacket based on the WWII design.

The materials are top notch: waterproof Ventile, great waxed cottons and Harris tweed linings (indeed, one lined in the same tweed as my Cifonelli jacket – below). And for the trimmings, horn buttons and copper RiRi zips.

I’m a particular fan of copper – it elevates a garment like this without being as showy as yellow metals, is redolent of work and function, and will gradually, naturally tarnish.
 

Private White VC harris lining

 
(Interestingly, a lot of the new shop fits make use of copper too – Private White, E Tautz, Troubadour. There’s an article there on metal trends. There was a time when brass was standard on leather goods, then nickel (to go with the cars of the day), then gold for the top end, before yellows fell out of fashion. I think we’re witnessing of a swing in menswear back from silvers like Palladium back to yellow. High time.)
 

Private White VC mechanic shirt

 
The biggest point on quality, however, is probably the attention to detail. The configuration of the pockets on the mechanic shirt (above, £250), for example, or the delightfully functional way the belt is shortened on the Twin Track (hidden, and importantly front-side, poppers).

In fact, there are many functional elements that appeal in the Twin Track (£595), most of all the Track itself – which zips out for a slimmer fit, or for wear without chunky knitwear. 

The cut of most jackets is on the boxy side. This reflects their traditional roots, but you can size down without too many problems. I can wear a small in styles like the moleskin Harrington, though the arms and body will be noticeably shorter.

Private White also does collaborations with some of our favourite brands, such as Inis Meain (much better, slim fit than on most of that Irish knitter’s output), Cherchbi and Sunspel. Perhaps we’ll leave it to coats for the moment though. If you’re a typical reader and in need of casual winter clothing, that will be enough to convince you of the need for a visit.

Private White VC horn button

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Anonymous

Great post! Learning about new brands is wonderful, and the occassional ‘trickle down’ post for non-bespoke buyers is great!
G

john

Simon
I was a bit concerned about the name Private White VC; just another foppish brand trying to gain some prestige from our highest military award. However I did them a disservice. Jack White won his Victoria Cross at the action at the Dialah River crossing in 1917. A signaller, he was in a boat that was machine gunned half way across the river. Under heavy enemy fire he towed the boat back himself, saving lives and as the War Office put it “much ammunition and supplies”. On his return from war he became a pattern maker at a clothing factory in Manchester which he ended up buying. His grandchildren now own that factory and they manufacture much of the goods shown in your piece, in the self same factory. And joy of joys although the factory is on the wrong side of the Pennines – Private White VC was born in God’s country, Yorkshire. All that would make this story complete is to find out that a portion of the brands profits are gifted to the VC and GC charity – I doubt it, but wouldn’t it be nice if it did! It might even edge me into buying one of their wax jackets.

Scott

Thanks again Simon for an excellent article on this impreesive company. I’m drawn to the blue herringbone bomber and the blue waterproof cotton raincoat. The committment to quality materials,craftsmanship,and design is very apparent.

Scott

That’s an excellent recomendation. Is there a color that you like in particular?

Scott

I’ll take a closer look at that jacket then. Do you consider more versatile?

Scott

You’re referring to the G1 flight jacket in charcoal grey not the herringbone, correct?

Scott

Thanks. That’s a great looking jacket as well. According to the company’s size guide, my size is l5. You mentioned that the coats were a bit boxy and you went down a size. My chest is 42 1/4,height 5’11”, waist 33″, weight 185lbs. Given my measurements, in your opinion is l5 the right size for me?

Scott

Simon, I just ordered my first Private White G1 in Donnegal blue from Mr. Porter. I’m really looking forward to trying this garment. Your article was very helpful in my deciding to give this company a try.

Anonymous

Scott, did you end up buying the jacket and what size did you go with, 4m or 5l?

Love Private White VC. Fascinating to see a UK garment factory not only survive but turn its hand to developing its own label. The staff in the shops are superb as well.

(And of course we have a bit of a penchant for brands named after grandfathers ;-))

Tom Henson

It’s a shame that Private White don’t use buttons made in the UK though. Within the overall cost of their garments, why not support British buttons?

Tom Henson

So wouldn’t it make sense that UK trim buyers at least attempt to see if the quality of buttons made here matches or – shock horror, exceeds – that of Germany or Italy?

Tom Henson

Private White is allegedly big on tradition though. So even more reason to at least attempt to source in the UK and not automatically go abroad.

Anders

It seema Private White VC is doing what RealMcCoys has been doing for ages (and they make G-1 leather jackets in leather).

Greg

Hi Simon. Between Ventile and Loro Piana Storm System, which performs better in rain?