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The See-through Stitch

Talking transparency with James Eden of Private White V.C.

At first glance, Private White V.C.’s Manchester factory appears to stand as a bastion of heritage, a stony-faced defender of otherwise long lost, traditional values. And how could it not? Over the course of the last century and a half, the Manchester factory has produced garments quite literally fit for kings and queens. It has clothed presidents and prime ministers alike. It has shielded Allied Forces from the bitter elements and enemy fire of two World Wars. 

As the last remaining clothing factory in the world’s first industrial city, you’d think that Private White V.C. had an age-old business ethos to match the intimidating heritage of its factory. At the very least, you’d suspect an over-inflated sense of superiority and a price tag to match. And on both counts, you’d be dead wrong.

In a surprising feat of candour and irreverence, Private White CEO, James Eden recently released the brand’s new Fair Price Manifesto. The manifesto not only wears its 2x-3x markup on its hand-finished, Ventile sleeve, it also lays out exactly what the consumer is paying for when they pull the trigger on a premium price V.C. garment. 

It’s a bold move towards a more transparent business model, one that has answered directly to the thoughts and frustrations of the modern consumer: ‘Retail prices are set high enough so that brands can still make good money when there is 70% even 80% off,’ laments Eden. ‘This in essence only serves to educate customers never to pay full price. Why would you pay full price for something when the price has been clearly set too high to begin with?’

With an open and honest markup on their locally-sourced, British-made clothing – which encompases everything from hand-crafted Ventile Macs to Goodyear welted field boots – Private White’s prices still place them firmly within the luxury category. And for a brand of such calibre and quality, that’s exactly where they want to be. Their work isn’t cheap, but it is fair. 

With the average luxury brand enforcing up to a 7x markup on their wares, Private White simply ask for a fair price for what they consider to be the world’s finest clothing. And they do so in a way that maintains an all-too rare respect for the average consumer’s shopping intelligence. As Eden suggests: ‘With so much access to information now at the tips of people’s fingers, customers are much more inquisitive and curious about how and where things are made, and many now demand and expect full traceability around the product and the supply chain, which is a big part of who we are as a brand.’

Private White’s Fair Price manifesto stands as both a metaphor of the brand’s made-in-Manchester roots and as a glaring statement of intent. It might seem like a modest step in the grand scheme of things. But for an industry that has an age-old reputation for relying on former glories, general consumer ignorance and a lofty sense of superiority, Private White’s push for greater transparency and integrity is nothing short of a revolutionary act. EJ

Words by Will HALBERT
Image Credits courtesy of Private White V.C