When news spread that David Smith was retiring and closing Pockets Menswear in 2013, customers were dismayed. “They said, ‘What are we going to do?’ recalls Doug Duckworth, a Pockets staffer for 36 years. “And the wives said, ‘My husband is so depressed.’”
Few merchants generate such loyalty and emotion, but Smith and staff had become close to clients, in some cases dressing father, son, and grandson. It wasn’t a difficult decision, then, for Duckworth to band with fellow buyer and salesman Andy Weil to purchase Pockets’ intellectual property.
Weil had 10 years of tenure at the store, and both knew their clients well. “Pockets is a fantastic brand with a great reputation,” Duckworth says. “We want to continue that legacy into the next generation,”
The partners had already become adept at scouting the market to create Pockets’ signature style, which Weil describes as “classic but different, fashion but not high fashion.” In other words, it’s executive-friendly. Pockets’ clientele, which numbers somewhere around 3,000, includes sports heroes like Troy Aikman as well as physicians, attorneys, and real estate developers.
Smith had sold his shop’s lease in Highland Park Village to Ermenegildo Zegna, a posh Italian clothier that had been a longtime vendor. Weil and Duckworth took their time securing a space for their new venture, closing Pockets for five months beginning in May 2013. Some customers made purchases out of Weil’s residence during the hiatus. “My house was full,” he says. “We had clothing everywhere.”
Pockets has been in its new home in the Plaza at Preston Center for about a year. The 3,000-square-foot shop is a bit smaller than its predecessor, but the blonde wood and cream décor gives it a very similar ambiance.
The void left by Zegna pulling out to run its own shop has been filled by the addition of Oxxford Clothes and a larger selection of higher-end suits from Canali. Pockets has also expanded its Luciano Barbera offerings by adding suits; has a strong relationship with Sartoria Partenopea, a largely handmade menswear line from Naples; and last year it picked up Eidos Napoli, the youthful new collection of sportswear, denim, and suits under the umbrella of Italian menswear giant Isaia.
Pockets’ new owners are aiming for $2.5 million to $3 million in first-year sales, and they say so far, so good. “We have definitely exceeded our expectations,” Duckworth affirms, “probably by 18 to 20 percent.”