Cast & Lane is a contemporary lifestyle brand focused on thoughtful clothing, guided by the philosophy of “dressed down elegance”— the belief that casualwear and elegance can, and should, coexist in harmony.
The brand follows a rigorous design process informed by research and an appreciation of the true elements of style. This helps Cast & Lane deliver products that are timeless, aesthetically pleasing, and without fuss.
Hi Giles, tell us a little about your background.
I was born in Zimbabwe, a small country in Southern Africa, and moved to England when I was 12 years old. After six wonderful years in Yorkshire, the so-called “God’s Own County” by its people, I moved to London when I was 18 to study Law at the London School of Economics. Despite knowing a career in law wasn’t for me within 5 minutes of the first lecture, I somehow persevered for three grueling years. I suspect this was in large part due to the fact that I was, and still am, in love with London. It’s a fantastic city. At this point, I’ve lived here for most of my life and this is the country I consider home – my family, friends, business, and fondest memories are in England.
What first got you interested in menswear and what inspired you to start Cast & Lane?
In many ways, I’ve always been interested in fashion. Even as a youngster, I took pride in my knowledge of different brands, magazines, and so on. I was especially fascinated by the outfits rappers wore back in the day, from the oversized t-shirts and jeans to the flashy “bling bling”. The inflection point – if you will – was when I was 12. I had just moved to England and started discovering different styles and modalities of expression through clothing. My initial education, so to speak, was through blogs like Hypebeast and Honeyee, which I discovered through a schoolmate who used to sell me (what I learned were largely counterfeit) Bape and Billionaire Boys Club clothes.
“Menswear” came later – when I was 17 and started buying and selling clothes on eBay. That’s when I learned about classic menswear and all that comes with it. I actually wanted to study architecture then pursue a career in fashion, much like Tom Ford and Virgil Abloh. My mother was vehemently against the idea. This notwithstanding, the fire within remained ablaze. So at 25, with a bit of money saved up and hopefully more knowledge accrued, I took the plunge and haven’t looked back!
What’s the philosophy behind the brand, and what are its core values?
There’s only one thing we will never compromise on – quality. It’s something of a cliché in the industry at this point, but we have a rigorous focus on quality. Each product, even within the modest collection we currently offer, goes through several rounds of iteration before we approve production. Like a good wine, I want Cast & Lane clothes to become even more of a delight to own and enjoy as they age. I’ve met a few older gentlemen and women who still cherish their favourite clothes from the yesteryear – and I aspire for Cast & Lane to be one such brand in the years to come.
Beyond quality, we want to avoid pomposity; we are not here to tell our customers what is right and what isn’t, or how things should be and whatnot. We truly embrace and hopefully champion the idea that clothing is one of the greatest forms of self-expression and our clothes simply serve to support that ethos.
How do you approach design at Cast & Lane and where do you find inspiration for new products?
As I mentioned earlier, my fashion journey has not been linear. I’ve had all sorts of phases and obsessions – from streetwear to preppy to classic menswear and more. Cast & Lane is therefore a tapestry of all these threads I’ve collected through the years. As a result, the design process isn’t as methodic as one might perhaps assume and, the more I think about it, the more I realise I have been designing in my head for many years. I’m only just bringing those ideas to life now. I find inspiration in just about anything – from a friend’s party to a song by Chic to those cool Slim Aarons we are all besotted with. I appreciate the uniqueness and the cliché in equal measure.
You’re a relatively new brand: how has Cast & Lane evolved over time and how do you see it in the future?
The most significant evolution lies in our community. Cast & Lane started as a small moodboard page on Instagram followed by a few (presumably) like-minded people and is now a clothing brand supported by real people who spend their hard-earned money on our designs. People from countries I’ve never even visited – from Australia to Taiwan to Canada and more – buy our clothes and email me frequently to express how much they love them. It’s incredible, even at this small scale, and I am deeply grateful.
So, going forward, community will remain at the heart of everything we do. As much as the design process is an extension of my mental mechanics, it is fundamentally a dialogue with our community – what they like, what they want to see, and so on.
What have been the biggest challenges that you had to face during Cast & Lane’s entrepreneurial journey?
Funnily enough, building a community! It’s a lot easier to sell items to one-time, passive buyers with no real connection to what you’re trying to achieve. Building a brand anchored by an authentic community that consistently engages with your vision, on the other hand, is not easy. It’s an enormous challenge, especially in an industry like fashion where there are so many brands competing for the same customer.
Another challenge, and this one is more obvious, is persevering through times of uncertainty and slowdown. It can be demoralising to see sales plateau, or Instagram engagement fall, and so on. What keeps me going during those times are the kind words from our customers and other interested parties. In those moments, I feel like I am building something bigger than myself – a brand that touches the lives of many people.
Where does Cast & Lane manufacture its products and what is the relationship between you and the brand’s suppliers?
We have very strong relationships with our trusted suppliers in Portugal, Romania, and China. They have all been incredibly supportive of our vision and patient with our constant and sometimes unreasonable demands!
How much do you think sustainability is important in today’s fashion industry and how does it fit with your vision?
Sustainability is extremely important not just in fashion, but in all industries, and I’m sure I speak for many entrepreneurs when I say that. I think it’s pretty clear now more than ever that we all need to think carefully about how and where and why we do business. But “sustainability” is something of a buzzword now and I’m concerned it’s losing its currency in the fashion industry. It is, ironically, quite fashionable to tout a brand’s sustainability credentials.
However, as we have seen in the case of several brands that built their entire identities around being sustainable, all is rarely ever as it seems. The reality is more nuanced than it is often made out to be. That’s why we don’t make too much noise about our commitment to sustainability. For example, we can’t say “everything we make is sourced sustainably” because, ultimately, we are not always present to observe the sourcing of our fabrics and so on. We firmly believe our manufacturers are ethical and responsible businesses – based on the credentials they’ve demonstrated and contractual obligations they’ve consented to – but it would be disingenuous to pretend we have full oversight of every aspect of the supply chain.
In this respect, sustainability fits with our vision insofar as we take it extremely seriously and think carefully about who we work with, and this will always be the case.
What public figure, past or present, do you feel best represents the overall style of the brand?
Ralph Lauren. No doubt about it.
Name the best movie to go with your brand.
The Paper Chase.
Leave us with a motto that the company will always believe in.
A wise man once told me that when you build a company, you need to decide early on which two of the following three are most important to you: speed, scale, or quality. If you achieve speed and scale, you’ll compromise on quality; if you want scale and quality, you’ll compromise on speed; and if you chase speed and quality, you’ll compromise on scale. We’re happy to move at a slower pace than some brands just so we can achieve quality and scale.
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