A British Brand Riding on a Wave of Success
Looking to create an all-metal, British designed, beautifully made razor and restore some luxurious ritual back in men’s shaving has meant Thomas Clipper is riding a wave of success
Article by Steve Edwards of Edwards London
Setting up business in the luxury sector is often a tricky undertaking. The customer base is relatively small and repeat purchases of niche products is often rare. However, this did not deter Antonio Weiss and Matt Brown, co-founders of luxury lifestyle brand Thomas Clipper, from taking on the gauntlet.
Antonio and Matt’s meeting came about purely by accident, having met at a wedding of a mutual friend. “After chatting for a while, we realised that we both yearned for the same thing when it came to our careers – something more tangible. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong working with spreadsheets and charts every day, but we wanted to be doing something more creative and hands on.”
And so, Thomas Clipper was born. “We wanted a name that was quintessentially British,” says Antonio. And, like their namesake, the mid-19th century clipper boats, they have made it their aim to travel the world searching for the finest materials and most skilled craftspeople.
The pair realised that there was a gap in the market when it came to men’s shaving. “We loved the idea of rituals and how one gets ready in the morning, be it at home or away. When it came to shaving, we noticed that any high-end barber, anywhere in the world, would always use a single blade razor to shave with. They would never be using the latest five blade, vibrating, plastic razor currently on the market! The aim was to create an all-metal, British designed, beautifully made razor. A razor with classic heritage but with a modern twist. Something that didn’t exist.”
One of the biggest obstacles they faced when launching was funding. “We didn’t do any of the sensible things one would expect when launching a new brand, such as securing pre-agreed backers or investors!” Instead they used the crowdfunding website Kickstarter to fund the project. “A sense of community is a big part of our philosophy. We wanted to democratise luxury and allow people to be part of a new brand, making new products.”
“We just decided to put the product out there and if people wanted it, great. If they didn’t, well, at least we would have learnt something.” The pair needn’t have worried as the response was wholly positive. And, with a well-known men’s publication writing a feature on the new razor, they reached their funding target almost immediately.
Riding high on the success of the razor, they developed a shaving bowl and brush crafted from 300 year old Northampton chestnut and made in the heart of the British countryside – each bowl etched with the GPS coordinates of the estate from where the wood was sourced. This was soon followed by a beautiful line of leather washbags, made in Florence from the finest European hide and vegetable tanned on the banks of the river Arno, in Italy.
In a short space of time, Thomas Clipper had developed into a niche luxury brand, while always maintaining its sense of community. “It’s our community who get a say in what we make and how we make it.”
With the idea of morning rituals still in mind and the shaving products already a huge success, it was an inevitability that the brand would delve into the world of fragrance – specifically, men’s cologne. “We wanted to create a product that had variety, something distinctive and individual. We wanted to allow every man to create his own fragrance.”
What they came up with was the Unite Trio. Three fragrances – City, Coast and Country –developed in Grasse, France and made and bottled in Lincolnshire, designed to be applied individually or blended together to create your own unique scent. “Blending, or layering as it’s most commonly known, is a concept lost on the men’s fragrance market. We had so much fun developing the product, playing with different scents, we wanted our customers to have that same experience.”
Now, the name Thomas Clipper can be found all over the world, stocked in some of the finest establishments, including Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly and Brummells in London’s Soho. Further afield the brand can be found in Paris, Belgium and Beijing. “We always ask what the right match for Thomas Clipper is. We don’t want to stock anywhere – the home has to fit the product.”
With Thomas Clipper you are not only investing in beautifully made and ethically sourced products, but in a brand that puts its customers at the heart of what it does, striving for openness and transparency, while always maintaining that sense of community that has made them what they are today.