Above: Tom Bonomo
Thomas Dean, the namesake line run by Greenwich resident Tom Bonomo and fellow industry veteran Dean Holly, continues to win fans with its approach to menswear: classic styling in a variety of colors and prints. What started with sport shirts has expanded to include pants, sweaters, shoes, blazers, swimwear, outerwear, and for the gentlemen-in-training, a line for boys. We asked Bonomo about the world of men’s fashion, future plans for the company and how life in Greenwich influences his work.
Q Tell us how you got started.
A My parents owned a men’s clothing store in Oregon, so I “grew up” in this business. I was always attracted to the men’s clothing sold in Europe, especially shirts. I thought, Why can’t I bring that style and quality to the U.S. and create a shirt line that’s stylish and at a price that men would buy in multiples [shirts start at $125]? In 2003, my now business partner Dean Holly had just left Nordstrom and we set out to launch our own line. We launched in January 2004 with Nordstrom as our biggest chain, selling us right out of the gate. Today we sell through big department stores and over 400 specialty stores around the country.
What sets your brand apart?
There are really two things that set us apart. The first is value. When I say value, I don’t mean cheap. Value to us means making a product that is of high integrity at a very comfortable price.
The second is design. A lot of our inspiration comes from Europe. We take that aesthetic and merchandise it into a product for the American market.
How has men’s fashion changed?
Men—of all ages and styles—are now, more then ever, really into fashion.
Guys care and invest more time in the clothes they wear.
What staples should every man have in his closet?
A real sportswear blazer [not a suit jacket or the navy blazer you wear to the office], a gingham shirt, a pair of five-pocket pants, and a pair of brown suede shoes.
What’s been your career highlight so far?
That we’ve been able to build a solid company and create jobs. Also, our industry is extremely competitive, and the fact that I can walk into a store and see Thomas Dean amongst so many other brands makes me proud of what we are doing.
How does living in Greenwich inspire your designs?
Greenwich has a great IQ in terms of fashion. Men know how to dress and we have incredible downtown shopping. A few years back, we named one of our labels after a Greenwich street [Loch Lane].
Russell Wilson [of the Seattle Seahawks]approached us about doing a collection together. Last February we launched a brand with him called the Goodman Brand [Bonomo is Italian for ‘good man’]. It reaches a more contemporary customer with more modern styling and fits. thomasdean.com
All images courtesy of thomas dean