James Buckley-Thorpe
Founder, Rupert and Buckley Clothing Co & Hive Retail


Is it possible to build a 3-million-pound fashion brand with nothing more than £40 and a sewing machine? Yes!

James Buckley-Thorp, a graduate of the University of Kent, founded clothing brand Rupert & Buckley whilst studying toward a degree in Law. Rupert & Buckley is now available in 150 locations across the UK and this year is moving into 7 states in the USA. This year also saw them become official leisure wear partner for the Cancer Research UK Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge — one of the most famous Boat Races in the world.

How he did it: In 2011 James joined his university’s rowing team. He had an idea that he hoped would help the team bond together, why not all wear matching striped socks with the colours of their college. After failing to find any socks in the required colours, James decided he would make his own. Armed with no sewing experience and a newly acquired sewing machine he made 5 pairs for his team. They lost that race, but other teams and sports wanted socks in their colours, so in the space of a week James had produced around 600 pairs from his dorm room.
Fast forward to 2013 and James was selling his products from his website. He had just graduated from Kent and had been offered a place at a Bar School but he also had an opportunity to develop Rupert & Buckley into something bigger. Everyone said not to do it and told him he was crazy, but James decided to take the chance. He has since said it can be very lonely when those around you think you've made the wrong choice.
James had saved £11,000 to go to Bar School, but instead used the money for a pop-up store in Bath, his hometown, for 7 weeks running up to Christmas.The rent cost £10k and the rest went on doing up the shop and stocking it up with his trademark socks, t-shirts, loungewear, and small gifts. James remembers walking into the shop for the first time and seeing the holes in the walls and wires hanging from the ceiling and realising the task at hand, however, he knew he had to make it work. James managed to turnover £34,000 in those 7 weeks.
Rupert & Buckley then grew from there. James searched for investment and began to build a team around him with the ethos “If I’m smarter then anyone on my team, then they are redundant”. In 2017, James hired a CEO to take care of the company.

James is energetic, passionate and relentless.Do people still think he is a little bit crazy? But James is teaching people that there is definitely method within his madness. As the saying goes ‘Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world usually do’.
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