For a brand that was only officially introduced in 2011, Private White V.C. packs a heritage that’s far beyond their years. The brand operates out of a factory that their namesake, Private Jack White worked at back in the early twentieth century, and it was this legacy that led White’s great grandson, James Eden to take over the factory a handful of years ago. This appreciation of the past continues on through in the brand’s designs. Nick Ashley the lead designer of Private White leans heavily on classic English shapes such as harringtons and moto-jackets. Not only does Ashley’s resume include the likes of Dunhill, Kenzo, and Tod’s, but his parents founded Laura Ashley, a company whose impact on the English textile industry cannot be overstated. We had a chance to speak with both James Eden and Nick Ashley about their brand’s history, the future of Private White V.C. and what it means to be a British brand in 2014.
ACL: Unlike many brands, with names that are pure fabrications, Private White was a real person that has a real impact on the shape of your brand. Could you give some background on Private Jack White the man?
James Eden: Private White was a local hero both on the battlefield and in business. He was quite a character who certainly made the most of his celebrity after the War. He loved his life, he loved his ladies and most of all he loved his family and factory.
ACL: White was one of the founding fathers of the Manchester Factory that you produce out of today, so at what point did you all step into the picture and found Private White V.C.?
JE: Even though my great grandfather, Private White, passed away in the late 1940s, my family has always had an emotional attachment to the factory. As a kid growing up, instead of having a paper route or working in a local shop for pocket money like many of my pals did, I would work on the shop floor or in the cutting room – cutting fabric, counting buttons, heaving rolls of cloth, basically doing exactly what I was told! Six years ago the factory was on the brink of going under and so I decided to take a leap of faith and left my job in Finance in the City of London to try and revitalize the Factory.