11 April 2013
Homesick For London: Tompkins Menswear
Being from nowhere -- I never get homesick -- depending on the company. Even though Clay Tompkins and I come from vastly different places...we share a connection over London. I worked in London in the late '80s and never once was homesick but ever since, almost every day, I get a little homesick for London.
Clay's line of shirts and trousers bring back bits and pieces of London and that language of clothing. Side tabs and cocktail cuffs are giveaways of bespoke in the wine bars and pubs of the financial district known simply as, 'the city.' I was fascinated with these details having come from button downs, center vents and Tiffany monogrammed buckles.
It was a uniform in every sense of the word but like the branches of the military...insurance men dressed differently from advertising men who dressed differently from bankers. Each sent out very clear messages about who they were or who they wanted to be. Americans seem to stick out like a sore thumb, until acclimated, and then they begin to adapt. Usually slowly. As an army brat, I went native inside of two weeks. Out went center vents suits, button downs and tassel loafers -- In came side vents, spread collars and cap toes.
Clay has taken subtle London design cues, not to mention some humor, and had it all made in the US. A trouser by Brooklyn's Julie Hertling is a magnificent thing. Even more so when made from a 130s gabardine. Light but tough, you shouldn't blow through the crotch for donkey years. Shirts are made in NJ by Mitch Gambert. The party pocket will hold one condom, or 'rubber' as it was known in my time, but not an 'eraser' as it's known in a London office. There's also an optional iPhone 5 pocket which I chalk up to Clay not being that far removed from Wall Street.
Right now proper winter weight trousers are on sale for $150. That's a steal for Hertlings. An updated web site should be up any day -- along with a stunning Savile Row like navy blazer with that distinctive flair below the waist which dates back to 18th century English great coats. Nothing like wearing a little history. As someone once told me about my being homeless, "You have a home...they're your friends." True, that. Give Clay a call. You never know...you might score a great pair of trousers and even find a friend.