Many thanks to our friend and colleague, Jay Sjoholm, for the following interview and article featured in Red Clay Soul on August 8, 2023.
Bill Thomas and I have been friends for a long time. Every time we sit down for lunch, the time flies by. The conversations we have about the industry are some of my favorites. He’s a wealth of knowledge and experience.
Bill is putting that knowledge to use: He recently released Pennbilt, HIS company, offering well-made, updated chinos to a market flooded with 5-pockets and high-stretch pants. His catalog is focused but checks the boxes. We recently got together to talk about his new endeavor, as well as a review of the pants options:
Congratulations on Pennbilt – what got you here and what’s in the name? Thank you. I describe PennBilt as a “new authentic” – a faithful evolution of the original. The origin point for my first brand was a WWII authentic. So, if Bills Khakis was a Willy’s Jeep, PennBilt is a new Ford Bronco. The name PennBilt is just a compilation of my home state of Pennsylvania and my name Bill T. Words like Peterbilt and Biltmore give me literally permission to drop the “u” in built. When I checked trademarks, I discovered that PennBilt was a dormant brand of footballs from the 1960’s. I’m pretty sure I kicked one of those a few times on the football field across the street as a kid.
Given your history in the chinos landscape, what is your assessment of where we are? The khaki/chino category has been turned upside down over the past 10 years. Three things have happened: 1) Men embracing stretch allowing trimmer fits, 2) The shift from the traditional chino style to 5-Pockets, and 3) The casualization of the financial services industry. Not long ago, you wouldn’t go to the office dressed like you were planning to go to the golf course. That’s all out the window in today’s remote world. Interestingly, the shift to 5-Pocket is starting to swing back to more true chino styling. When your 18-year-old son says he won’t wear 5 pocket chinos because they make him look like every other 55-year-old dad, you know it’s time.
For full article and to see more of the lifestyle brands that they feature,
please visit Red Clay Soul.