Monday, June 9, 2014

Father's Day with Bill Thomas of Bills Khakis

Happy early Father's Day to all the dad's out there - mine was the best. Look at me, stuntin in my high-top All Stars!
 My dad might not have been big on fashion, but those fades would be the envy of many a denim head today!

I spent some time trying to think of a great way to approach a Father's Day post. On personal holidays like this, I don't like to suggest specific gifts, because our circumstances (and our dads) can be (and probably are) very different. There also isn't some standard of attire or event for this day (like there is for St. Patrick's or even Memorial Day), so, hell wear whatever you want. Anyway, I was dancing around the subject until I got an email from some of the reps for Bills Khakis, offering to set up an interview with Bill himself (founder Bill Thomas) to chat about the holiday.

Bills Khakis is a company I've had on my radar for a long time, but never got to try out myself. My interpretation of them, up to this point, was as a company blurring the lines between modern and traditional - offering classic and durable worker chinos alongside more slim-fit and modern options, and managing to make the distinction between the two much less pronounced - which I think is pretty awesome! I browsed their merch, read a bit more about the company, and was definitely interested enough to set up the interview.

On a little side note - I half expected a pretty 'promotional,' one-sentence answers, 'buy our stuff' interview, and was really impressed with the thought Bill took into answering my questions, and I think the interview turned out really well. In fact, I'm still waiting on some samples that they are sending me so that I can get an in-person feel of their products and judge them myself (and pass the deets on to you folks), but I couldn't wait to get this on the blog, and especially wanted to do so in time for the upcoming holiday. Soooo, here's the (short) interview - Bill does have some recommendations specific to his brand, so check out their goods (they've got a really solid rep, so I wouldn't hesitate if you see something you like), but there's also some good thoughts here on bridging the generational style gap. Here we go:

As a young menswear blogger looking ahead to Father's day and apparel or style related gifts, I keep coming back to the potential 'style gap' between young fashion-forward guys and their fathers - as in, I love my dad's style, and he definitely appreciates mine, but there isn't a lot of crossover between the two. Where my dad is a meat-and-potatoes, jeans-and-tee kind of guy, I like things a little more tailored and a little more bold.

I think Bills Khakis is great in that you cover a both ends of the spectrum. How do you and your team successfully approach the balance between trendy or modern and classic or timeless?
Bill Thomas: "Simple, purposeful and authentic. The Bills Khakis brand has grown from the values represented by an original pair of WWII khakis I found at an army surplus store while I was in college. These timeless characteristics serve as a compass for men’s fashion in America across all generations. Each generation redefines the nuances, but the building blocks are the same. It’s our job to evolve in concert with this progression. “Fit” is a primary driver with color, wash and detailing also playing a part. Our design efforts take this all into account. Our “Tea Label” Collection is a great example of how Bills Khakis can speak to a more trend oriented customer, who often is younger, while our original label continues to drive business with customers whose personal style is more traditional."

Can you suggest some approaches to Father's day gift buying for style-minded guys with dad's that...

...want to try new modern styles, but still act their age?
"Get your father into a slightly more tailored fitting pair of khakis and shirt. WORD OF CAUTION! Even if your dad runs triathlons, he will likely not want the fit to be super trim. He’ll never be comfortable wearing skinny fit anything, and frankly, if you saw him wearing a pair you would probably agree. Our M3 pant fit and “Tailored Fit” shirts strike the perfect balance of comfort and updated fit. Throw in a cool belt and make sure the shoe is right and you've brought your father into 2014."

Supima® Pique Polo

...have a solid sense of style, but like to stick to the classics?
"In addition to our WWII inspired khakis, there are great stories behind many of the products we make - stories that will help your father see what they are wearing in a different light. For example, our Supima® Polo shirt is not only cut and sewn in America, the cotton was grown and harvested here as well. For those not familiar with Supima®, it’s among the finest cottons in the word. Supima® is strong, color fast but still breathable and soft!"

...might enjoy some stylish flair, but don't even know it?
"Add a little color. Like khaki, “navy” really isn’t a color when it comes to pants or shorts. Easy to wear shades include: Wicker, Sage, Pewter, and Marine. Also, a blue gingham check shirt will be a giant step for his sense of style."

...have little interest in style (or the way they dress), and might benefit from a (very subtle) 'nudge' in the right direction?
"Chances are this dad has always bought the lowest price anything he can find. Introduce them to “quality” merchandise. The experience of wearing exceptional products will enlighten him. Chances are he’ll never splurge on himself."

Last, on a more personal note, I'm actually a native Pennsylvanian, now living in Chicago, so I relate to your background. Something that's always been very interesting, though occasionally challenging as well, has been coming from/living in these areas where style and fashion aren't as front-and-center as places like NYC or LA. I'd love to hear how this has affected your style as well as the development of his brand!
"I have never considered Bills Khakis a fashion brand in the sense we need to “drive” fashion. However, we do need to be “on tend” to remain relevant. Chicago reflects how most of America dresses - think of NYC and LA as two strong magnets with Chicago in the middle. Chicago will never get pulled too hard left or right, but it will oscillate."

Big thanks to Bill for taking the time to speak with me, and a big thanks to all the Dads out there, for being Dads - awesome Dads, I hope - and the biggest thanks of all to my own Dad, who's the coolest guy I know and really helped make me who I am. And, of course, my heart is with my Pappy and Grandpa, may they rest in peace, I miss you uber-dads every day.

Curled up, thumb in my mouth, my 'ginky' (blanket), while my dad reads me 'The Night Before Christmas.'
Couldn't have been happier.

Bonus: Any expecting Dad's out there? If your beautiful baby is born on Father's Day (June 15th, 2014), Bills Khakis will send you a pair of Authentic Khaki's on the house. Can't beat that, a baby and some killer menswear in one day...just gotta get that timing right!

No comments:

Post a Comment