⇾ How Peter Middleton Shops
⇾ Peter Middleton, Wythe Founder
The designer shares his inspirations and an insider’s ultimate shopping hack
To create the products we want now, sometimes designers have to look backwards. Icons like Miles Davis, James Dean and Paul Newman were all well-respected entertainers, but one thing they all had in common was a classic style that has stood the test of time. It wasn't just what they wore—a uniform of oxford shirts, denim pearl snaps and classic grey sweatshirts—but how they wore them in their own unique way. Today, Peter Middleton of Wythe is putting his spin on those perennial menswear icons, pulling inspiration from Texan Western wear with a bit of East Coast flare.
Peter started the label less than five years ago, and it already feels like a proper heritage brand. “Wythe started as something different. I wasn't trying to make replicas of old garments, nor was I trying to make something brand new,” he says. “I wanted to make my version of garments like oxfords, tubular T-shirts and sweatshirts.” When he began toying with other items, like a moleskin pearl snap shirt and raglan overcoat, they were “already supported by a strong vision of what Wythe meant as a brand.” Although he won't take full credit for the resurgence of western wear, he's certainly responsible for making a snap-button denim shirt and a pair of roper boots feel fresh as hell. “I think what's allowed for such a broad base is that I'm pulling from so many different parts of Americana and mixing them in a way that appeals to myself and others.”
Peter's personal style pays homage to well-trusted items like a well-made and perfect-fitting tee mixed with an indigo-dyed chambray popover shirt. His IG bio reads, “Luxury Rodeowear”, and it's a damn near perfect snapshot into his wardrobe. We caught up with him to see what he learned while working for menswear's GOAT, what's currently on his eBay watchlist and if he has a personal shopping philosophy.
What are you shopping for
at the moment?
Oh man, I am always on the hunt. My eBay watchlist is full of vintage sand cast Diné (Navajo) belt buckles from the 1920s to the 60s. I'm waiting for the right deal on the right piece now.
How did you know it was time to start your own brand?
I didn't, really. I knew I needed to start “something,” but I didn't think I was creating an entire brand when I started with the oxford shirt—even though starting my brand was a lifelong dream.
Western tooled bag,
$698 by Wythe
Who’s the Wythe customer? How would you describe them?
Wythe's customer is a broad demographic of different guys (and girls). We make a lot of different products that all have a soul. We have some customers who only buy our oxford shirts and others that have only bought our hand-tooled leather goods.
I think the main through-line between our customers is they want something well-made and “special”—a perfect collar roll or a unique item with many hours of handwork.
Since your brand is inspired by western wear, what are your top five western movies?
Wythe isn't only inspired by western wear, although it is a part of the DNA. We are inspired by garments of the past that convey their soul and history. Coming from Texas and always loving the West, I think that “western” sensibility will continue to come across each season. I know these all may not count as a western in everyone's book, but needless to say:
• A River Runs Through It
• Legends of the Fall
• 3:10 to Yuma
• Nevada Smith
• Hell or High Water
$198 by Wythe
Speaking of western style, why do you think your brand has made it palpable for people to get into?
Oh man, that's a big pill to swallow. I would love to think that Wythe is a part of that, but there are so many other brands who paved the way so that Wythe could even be in the same stores with many modern design-driven brands. What has allowed for such a broad base is that I am pulling from so many different parts of Americana and mixing them in a way that appeals to myself and others.
I remember at one of my first trunk shows at Tabor in Charlotte, NC a woman grabbed a chambray popover shirt of mine and told me that she remembered “Her dad had one just like it” and she had to have it. What I am capturing with Wythe is a sense of soul that comes with beloved garments. Ideally, people see some of my products in a store and pick them up because they know they will be a favorite for years and years to come.
How did your time at Ralph Lauren, in their fabric research department, lead to what you’re doing now?
I learned a ton at RL while I was there. The most important part (besides having a better understanding of how looms and dye houses work) is how Ralph designed a collection. He always starts with the vision and builds the garments from there. When I design a new season at Wythe, I begin with my version of what I watched Ralph do over and over. I start with the feeling I want the collection to have and then begin thinking about the colors and textures, and garments that will concisely convey that feeling.
Oxford cloth button-down,
$150 by Wythe
What’s one item that every man needs in his closet?
A perfect-fitting shirt. A blue oxford or a white tubular T-shirt always gets the job done.
What can a perfect-fitting shirt do for someone’s wardrobe?
The most important thing a well-fitting shirt can bring is confidence. A perfect-fitting shirt allows a man to show up as the best version of themselves. A man has to know his worth first, but a perfect-fitting shirt (or tee shirt!) can help to show that sense of confidence to the world.
Three favorite brands, currently?
What’s one item that you
cannot part with?
My dad's record player.
What city has the best shopping?
I haven't traveled all that much, so I couldn't tell you definitively. But right now, I really enjoy Sante Fe. Some of the best vintage weavings and jewelry live there, along with vintage men's and women's clothes and accessories.
Do you shop more online or in person?
I do a mix of both. Usually, it starts in person to get a feel for how garments fit. Then, if I feel comfortable with the brand, I'll likely mix in some online purchases with continuing in-store visits.
Tubular pocket T-shirt,
$45 by Wythe
Ever buy things
I buy multiple basics, but try not to go too far because I still want to wear those things out. I'll have three to four of each color of our tubular T-shirts in various states of wear and two to three of each color of our oxford cloth button-down shirts at the ready.
Which do you experience more: Buyer’s remorse or regret for not buying something?
If you purchase high-quality items and do it less often, my experience is that you end up with lots of things you love, and the more you wear them, the more they feel like a part of your life. There are times when I have wanted to kick myself for walking away from some excellent vintage piece, but there are always others on the horizon to look forward to.
$4,499 by Omega
It has to be jewelry. I love the few pieces of Diné sterling silver and turquoise I have and am usually rotating between a few bracelets and a few rings along with my daily driver watch—an old Omega Ranchero.
What is something you refuse to spend a lot for?
This might be a better question for my friends. I tend to focus on quality over quantity. I think it's worth spending more on things and supporting the people making those things. If you invest more in higher-quality produce or coffee, you're allowing those sellers or stores to pay more to their farmers and producers. If you are spending more on clothing and leather goods, you're allowing those stores to pay more to their artisans and weavers. In short, if it's worth buying, it's worth supporting the people that brought it to you.
$268 by Wythe
What’s one shopping hack that you can let everyone know about?
If you have a good store near you, get to know the people at that store—coffee shops, bookstores or anything. Get to know them by coming back and spending real time and money in the store and asking them about their products. If you want help buying a bag of coffee beans and the baristas know you, they'll likely know what flavors you have liked previously and can recommend something up your alley. If the people in your local men's boutique know what you've bought and tried on and you can trust them when they say you should try our Bedford cords in off-white—as opposed to purchasing a sixth pair of khaki chinos. They might even offer to hem them for free!