A QUESTION FOR SCOTT JAMES | Flat base decoded
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Scott Kuhlaman of Scott James Clothing is not your average menswear designer. Matter of fact, he’s not a really a “designer” at all, he is an architect. We sat down with Mr. Kuhlaman and discussed his inspiration and philosophy.
Scott Kuhlaman, hailing from a small town in Western Nebraska, got his start from his 7th grade science teacher. Apprentice, buyer, owner, designer; let’s just say that Kuhlaman has seen this dish from the beginning to the end. His belief is “that every item should add to your joy of life.” What started with shirting has grown into a full blown ready to wear collection.

Scott James has you covered from head to toe. His recent award from Travel + Leisure for his “1964 Blazer” has confirms the fact that his work is receiving the recognition it truly deserves. From the His keen eye, degree of knowledge, and affordability makes James a heavy contender in the rejuvenation of menswear as we know it. Now, without further ado, Mr. Scott Kuhlaman

Mr. Kuhlaman , It’s an absolute pleasure to speak with you. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in a small town on a ranch in Western Nebraska. In our town we had two men’s stores.

After my 7th grade school year, my science teacher said he was buying one of the stores and asked if there was anyone that wanted to work for him that summer. I raised my hand, because I love clothing. That evolved into working for him throughout high school (as well as running the store one summer).

 This evolved into my collegiate studies in Lincoln, NE, going to work for a store that had three Polo Shops and by my sophomore year in college, was buying/running these three Polo Shops. After college I went to the Wholesales side of the business, working for Joseph Abboud and Hartmarx. In 2002 after building knowledge of both selling and sourcing in Europe, and with many stores trying to produce their own Proprietary Brands, I started a sourcing company, set up in the way an Ad Agency was set up.

We would take a project from A to Z or from A to C, we would conceptualize it, all the way thru the design, sourcing, shipping and marketing. While spending most of my time in Europe, I could see these small shirt shops opening on the corners all over the place. So in 2003, we began this concept and eventually opened 60 of these stores. With the downturn and closing all of the stores, in 2009, myself and a friend decided that there was still a niche within the world of apparel, offering amazing Ameripean (European, with an American sensibility), that was attainable. We built the business for a year and then in May 2010, sold it to Hampshire Group, and with their support the hockey stick growth curve continued.

When was that “Aha moment” you said to yourself “I must create my own brand”?

This really came in 2003 when we decided to open these shirt shops. To be honest, we offered the concept to a better department store. Keep in mind this is when the “shirt craze” began. We had the idea of great European shirts, with incredible styling at an attainable price! On top of which we could turn the inventory every 45-60days! After 3 months they didn’t bite, so we went and did it ourselves.

Researcher: Lisa Muldrow
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