Custom suit retailer Tom James celebrating 45th year
Tom James Company is celebrating its 45th year this fall. Founded in 1966 to bring custom suit measuring and cloth selection to busy professionals in their offices, Tom James reports an increase in interest in professional dress.
In 1966, most professionals dressed in suits and ties every day. With the advent of casual dress in the workplace in recent years, Tom James has focused more on specific industries such as law and banking to find their clients. That trend is changing.
“While a majority of our clients are still in those industries, we are seeing a return to professional dress more broadly across all industries,” says Todd Browne, President of Tom James.
In the 2011 Spend Sights Special Report: Global Luxury Fashion Spending, American Express Business Insights reports Seniors and Gen Y/Gen X consumers are purchasing more luxury fashion products. Tom James is seeing that trend play out in its custom suit business, as well.
“There is a definite renewal of interest in professional dress,” says Browne, “And our business growth reflects that.”
Tom James owns its own production facilities who also supply to the nation's top high-end retailers. Tom James' merchandisers and stylists also report that “luxury is alive and well, and we are trumpeting it loudly.”
Gordon G. Miller, owner and CEO of G3 Systems in VA, says it's about time. “I think people are coming to understand value.” Miller, a client of Tom James clothier, Doug Kidd, proudly states he has at least $100,000 worth of Tom James clothing in his closet. Miller practices what his mother taught him: “Everyone understands the cost of something; but few understand the value.”
Miller loves the fact his Tom James custom shirts last a lot longer than other shirts he gets, as much as 3-4 times longer. “But for me, it's not just how long it lasts, it's what I call the 'Tom James Effect.' When you slide the custom jacket over top of the shirt that fits, you can just feel success setting up for your day.”
Miller must believe in it. Over the years he has 'gifted' his associates and employees with Tom James suits. Why?
“For me,” Miller says, “when you change someone's physical state, it changes their mental state. When they are wearing Tom James, their attitudes about themselves change; they tend to be more confident.”
David Bradshaw, now a Tom James client, and recipient of one of Miller's gifts said, “I was flattered. I always liked dressing nicely, but I can certainly tell a difference in the quality and cut of what he gave me. You feel good when you wear a nice suit!”
That's Miller's opinion, too. “You can't help but feel good about doing battle with the world when you look that good,” he said. “That's all a part of 'value.'”
That idea is making a come-back, even in 'ever-casual' Southern California. Sarah Staggs, a Tom James clothier in San Diego tells of a customer who had not purchased in some time. “He went business casual a few years ago and calls me out of the blue. 'I need 5 suits, immediately,' he said.”