I wrote about the Ivy Inspired tumblr last summer. It is a “timeless adventure through the classics” and one of my very favorite tumblrs. The young man behind Ivy Inspired, Tom Nascone has expanded his creative outlet beyond tumblr and opened up the Ivy Inspired store offering handmade bow ties and pocket squares. I recently had a chance to catch up with Tom.
OCBD: First off, I have to tell you that I really enjoy the Ivy Inspired Tumblr. What inspired you to start it?
Tom: Thank you. I started Ivy Inspired as a virtual inspiration board for myself early in my sophomore year. I wanted some place to keep a collection of all the clothing and looks that I enjoyed and wanted to use it to influence my own style.
OCBD: I have been interested in style from an early age as well. I have to add that I don’t think I would have been able to curate such a cohesive collection of images at that age. So, hats off to you. What is it about classic or traditional style that attracted you to it?
Tom: Being a product of catholic grammar and high school, I have been in a uniform/dress code all of my life. Having a clean, crisp outfit everyday was nice, I felt well put together. Through my childhood I have been surrounded by people such as my grandfather, who always had that classic style. I guess it just became a part of me. What I enjoy most about the “trad” style is its functionality. Clothes are meant to be worn. They should have character and patina.
OCBD: I could not agree with you more about functionality being one of the most attractive aspects of trad clothing. You are lucky to have been surrounded by men who could teach you a thing or two about clothes. How would you define your personal style?
Tom: My style is rooted in the classic American “trad”. I would say that I also like to infuse little additions of sprezz and quirkiness into that traditional base, to update it and make it a little more fun.
OCBD: I definitely get that “trad with sprezz” vibe from the images that you feature on Ivy Inspired. Do you have any style icons aside from your family and friends that have helped you develop your style?
Tom: I have a lot of style icons that I like to regularly follow: Fred Castleberry, Sid Mashburn, Maxminimus, John Wrazej, Michael Bastian, The Armoury, and so many more that I can’t think of at the moment. Of course there is plenty of inspiration on tumblr which is where I get most of my influence from.
OCBD: I concur that Maxminimus is the man! Do you have a favorite brand?
Tom: My favorite brand was Rugby, but since that section of RL has closed down, I will probably stick with Polo. I haven’t been amused by Brooks Brothers lately, and J.Press is out of my price range. I try to diversify my closet as to avoid an overflow of the same label, but RL is consistent and it’s hard to find a variation of price, quality, and style now a days.
OCBD: [Laughing] I’m still saving for a J.Press sport coat, too. It was sad to see Rubgy close. I have a few pieces from them and I thought that their sweaters had the most bang for the buck. How have your friends and family responded to Ivy Inspired?
Tom: Most of my friends know about it, some of them read it regularly, because they enjoy what I post. In the beginning no one knew about my blog, but as it started to gain more and more of a following, I started to take pride in it. Now I am pretty open about sharing it with people. I have even brought it up in job interviews just to help demonstrate my passion and mindset.
OCBD: I am glad to hear that you have been getting a positive response to your site. I was really excited when I saw that you opened up the Ivy Inspired shop. I was even more excited when I saw that you were not only selling, but manufacturing bow ties. How did this come about?
Tom: I started making bows right after my grandfather passed away 2 years ago when I ended up inheriting a bunch of his ties. This was right around the time when Brooks Brothers started debuting the Social Primer reversible bow ties. One day I was choosing between ties for school, and I realized I had a navy polka dot, and a nice madras (exactly the Social Primer bow tie patterns I wanted). I have always been a pretty creative and hands on person, so the thought hit me, what if somehow I made my own reversible bow tie? I spent a few weeks researching and developing what I thought to be the ideal bow tie pattern, shape, and construction. Eventually I sat down and cranked it out! It was a little shabby at first, but I managed to do it, and I was damn proud. As popularity for my bow ties between friends and family grew, people started suggesting I make a business out of it. And that’s where I am today!
OCBD: That is a great story. I have heard nothing but good things about your bow ties. The consensus is that they are a quality product for a great price ($25). Do you have any dreams for the brand?
Tom: Someday I definitely want to open a great, classic haberdashery in the city. This has been my dream for quite a while now and each day I look forward to it and try to put myself in a good position to get there. I have chances to meet with CEOs of clothing companies to gather great advice and network. Hopefully I’ll be up there with Ralph Lauren one day.
OCBD: I think that you are well on your way. Independent haberdashers are definitely something that we could use more of in today’s big-box store world. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors. Before I let you go I wondered if you would weigh in on the whole trad/ivy league/preppy argument?
Tom: This is definitely very prevalent on tumblr. Ivy League and Trad pretty much go hand-in-hand, then there are the “preppy” New England fratsters who worship their Vineyard Vines critter pastels while downing their Natty Lights in front of Reagan campaign posters.
OCBD: Hah, I appreciate such a candid response. I want to thank you again for taking the time to speak with me. I encourage all of my readers to check out the tumblr and to support your shop. I am looking forward to watching your brand grow and I will be picking up a bow tie from you in the near future.