We’re a little business, a tiny one in fact, striving to create the best hemp shirts and enjoying getting to know our customers along the way.
I’m happy to admit it..well proud of it actually..that we are very much still in our infancy and learning and growing every day.
There is one thing that has inspired me like nothing else on the journey so far, and that is how all brilliant shirt brands also started off with their own tiny beginnings and individual stories.
Below is a summary of those brands that I studied as I got Babble & Hemp off the ground from my university bedroom and how they continue to inspire me to this day.
You’ll be as amazed as I was to learn that there are over 5,000 companies in the world that are more than 200 years old. Of those, over half are located in Japan. The Japanese culture of putting the customer before profits and the idea of ‘sincerity’ is the key to their longevity.
Kamakura Shirts is not a 200 year old company, but focus on genuine sincerity towards their customer has meant that they have grown from a husband and wife team making shirts upstairs and selling in the shop below in 1993.
Kamakura, a seaside town an hour from Tokyo was where Yoshio Sadasue began to make shirts with one thing in mind – the long term happiness of the customer – and that meant one thing…quality.
Their mantra of sincerity towards customers and making shirts of the highest quality has seen them grow from a single room above a shop to dozens of stores in Asia, even one in New York.
Note taken..and I'll eat my shirt if they're not around in 200 years time.
Sourcing fabrics from the most prestigious Italian producers, using the finest craftsmanship by partnering with experienced Italian artisans and focusing on elegant designs that never go out of fashion. These are three of the key foundations on which another of our inspirations is built. Luca Faloni was founded in 2013 by the man himself.
Luca Faloni's collection of linen shirts are crafted with the finest Italian linen and mother of pearl buttons, featuring a unique ‘Paramontura’ collar. They’re really very, very nice.
Combining the oldest traditions in craftsmanship and fabrics with a modern business model of exceptional service, direct to the consumer has meant he has built a terrific menswear business I can only aspire to with shops in Piccadilly Arcade and New York.
Yes, I know, everyone’s heard of Charles Tyrwhitt and you’re probably thinking I didn’t scroll down Google very far after I typed ‘shirts’ in.
But that’s exactly why its up here. Charles Tyrwhitt is one of the most successful shirt (now entire menswear) companies in the world and it was all started by one man from his university bedroom..with the name Nick Charles Tyrwhitt Wheeler.
I’ll be perfectly honest, I’m in awe of this business…so in awe in fact that back when I was at university myself and in the early stages of starting a shirt business I wrote him a hand written letter asking for some advice.
After some stalking on Companies House I had his address and sent it off, praying for his top tips. Knowing that he probably had a thousand other things on his mind (that’s how many people he now employs..) I promptly forced myself to forget about it assuming he would never reply..until an email from him popped up that Sunday night.
One extremely kind email later, packed with priceless advice, I was on top of the world, full of confidence and using his number one piece of advice – "Choose one thing you are best at and be the best in the world" – I sacked off sleeping that night and cracked on building the best hemp shirt business in the world (okay..I’m still trying..)
The point? If he did it so can we.
Website : https://www.ctshirts.com/uk/home
Babble & Hemp
Having read and absorbed everything I could on these businesses I felt I knew what needed to be done to build a shirt business:
- Kamakura’s focus on sincerity, honouring their word and wanting the customer to be thrilled with the shirt
- Luca Faloni’s focus on the finest materials and craftsmanship combined with modern distribution methods
- The rise of Charles Tyrwhitt from a university bedroom to global stores, making brilliant shirts at a reasonable price
Fortunately I’d already come across the main ingredient for Babble & Hemp whilst travelling in India that previous summer. An ancient, sustainable and beautifully soft fabric called hemp that was first used for clothing thousands of years ago. A natural fiber from the hemp plant, hemp fabric is ideal for men’s shirts in the 21st century.
Using five times less water to make than a cotton shirt, no pesticides, whilst always getting softer and softer with each wash – Babble & Hemp now makes the finest hemp shirts and the collection can be found here and our stall at Portobello Road Market, London every Saturday.