It’s a classic story of ties that bind—except this one actually starts with ties. Kirk Stafford, who had a small tie company called Mast-McBride, walked into Billy Reid in September 2012. Thomas Wages, a partner at an advertising company, was inside talking to the manager over a bourbon drink. He owned a tie that was too skinny, and he wanted it made into a bow tie. The manager looked from Wages to Stafford; it was kismet. One conversation led to another, and the two discovered they wanted to open the same type of men’s boutique, right down to the last handcrafted leather detail.
“We had the exact same vision, all the way down to the songs we wanted to play in the store,” says Wages, forty-four, an Athens native. “It was like, ‘Get out of my head!’” In July the two opened Tweeds on the Westside.
“Everything in the entire store is made by hand, from our totes, to our shoes, to sunglasses, to the baseballs and footballs we sell—they are hand-stitched,” says Stafford, twenty-seven, who is from Habersham County and is working on a master’s in luxury and fashion management at SCAD Atlanta.
All of their vendors have fewer than fifteen employees; most have fewer than five. But this is no craft show. The goods are made of fine cotton, wool, silk, and full-grain leather, and the shop’s antique trunks and oriental rugs add to the refinement. (The furniture is for sale too.) One of the designers Wages discovered in nascency, Ernest Alexander (shirts $135 to $155), was named one of GQ’s best new menswear designers this year.
Some lines are also local: canvas and leather utility bags from Andover Trask, a Tweeds line of belts that’s made here, and woodsy-scented grooming products from Atlanta-based Chiefs. All of the ties are designed in house ($55 to $115), and this month, Tweeds is scheduled to release its own line of denim (around $150). Their suiting, in a pebbled Scottish tweed with horn buttons, is set to hit stores December 1, and shirting is in the works.
But don’t look for their proprietary brands to take over. “We want to keep it small-batch,” Stafford says. “We want to be able to go head-to-toe with our own line, but we want to continue working with other designers. We want them to grow as we grow. Very few men’s stores keep the boutique model. But that’s the model we love.”
1009-A Marietta Street, 404-892-0302, tweedsshop.com
This article originally appeared in our November 2013 issue.