20 questions with: the man behind Private White V.C.

Nick Ashley is a legend. And if there’s one man that knows menswear, it’s him. Fashion is in his blood; as the son of fashion legend Laura Ashley and her business partner and husband Bernard Ashley, his career path was in some ways inevitable. Having carved out an incredibly successful name for himself through his shop, Ashely Stores, he then went on to launch Private White V.C at Pitti Uomo two years ago – and the reaction, as you would expect from a man with this much skill, was incredible. Ahead of his presentation at London Collections Men this week, we spoke the the gentleman about what his inspirations, the true meaning of style and the three pieces that every gentleman needs to own.

1. Who is the ultimate Private White V.C gentleman? 

“The ultimate Private White gentleman is a person, not gender specific. Someone that is clever enough to surround themselves with the most beautiful things that they can afford, then not have to buy too much more stuff.”

2. Who is the most stylish man in London, and why? 

“Don Letts. He has always been true to himself. He has done fabulous things with great people, and truly understands about attitude. He’s deeply stylish right down to his bones.”

3. What constitutes a stylish man? 

“A person with a good attitude. Attitude dictates individuality, and individuality dictates style, then taste defines the style. It’s a language.”
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4. What are three items every gentleman should own? 

“A white shirt, a tool box and Ayurvedic soap.”

5. What are three accessories every gentleman needs? 

“Wool felt shoe liners, a map, and an Opinel pocket knife.”

6. Why are well-made clothes so important? 

“They last forever and they make you look good.”

7. What is the ultimate gentlemanly investment? 

“Land.”

8. What is the first thing you notice about another gentleman’s outfit? 

“How quietly it speaks about him.”

9. What excites you most about LCM?

“The real impact that it could have in terms of selling product and therefore creating jobs.”

10. Talk to us about the process behind designing the collections? 

“We start with a raw fibre, mainly sourced in the UK, some of the wool we produce ourselves on my farm. We then control the spinning of the fibre into yarn, in the UK. The yarns are woven into fabric and cloth in Yorkshire and Lancashire mills. The clothes are made in our factory in Manchester, then sold in our shop in Mayfair. We call this ‘sheep to shop’.”

11. What are the 3 intricate details that always need to be perfect before the presentation?

“There has to be harmony in an outfit. I prefer tonal to contrast colours, like a uniform. The fit is more important than the style. The clothes must speak quietly about the wearer, but they can say a lot.”

12. Do you still get nervous before a collection shows? 

“No, I’m super confident.”
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13. What makes London the fashion capital of the world?

“Stylish Brits have always lead the way sartorially. It’s a question of devil may care attitude and an ability to solve a problem from an oblique angle, the mother of invention.”

14. If you were to wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?

“Such a good question! It would be brown boots from PW, Heavy Linen rawstate jeans from PW, rawstate organic cotton/ cashmere v neck t shirt from PW, suede Rainrider jacket from PW, and an open face crash helmet from Davida in Liverpool.”

15. If there was to be one message translated across all Private White clothes, what would it be?

“Invest in good clothes and you will feel good about yourself every day when you get dressed.”

16. Who, or what, is your inspiration? 

“Factories inspire me, the machines and the beautiful people that operate them have inspired me since I was old enough to notice.”

17. If you could have dinner with three stylish gentlemen, dead or alive, who would they be? 

“Steve McQueen Marlon Brando and Bob Marley.”

18. If you could have any gentleman’s wardrobe, whose would it be? 

“Edward the Seventh.”
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19. Sum up your style in three words. 

“Practical, simple, minimal.”

20. Is there one particular detail you try and continue through every collection?

“Loads of pockets, mainly hidden inside the garment.”
Visit Private White V.C. here.

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