A&H: Give us some background on you and the story of Howard Yount?
JS: Howard Yount was born out of my own love of menswear and my frustrations in finding really high quality goods at reasonable prices, without having to haunt sample sales and discounters (I did plenty of that), or track down secret sales and discount codes online (ditto). I grew up in Chicago, went to school in New York, and got into menswear in my early twenties when I was living in London and spending altogether too much time on Savile Row and Jermyn Street. It was just a hobby until 2008, and still is something of a hobby–I have a separate career.
JS: I have few personal memories of my grandfather because he died when I was young. This is Howard holding me as a baby (left)–I love his tyrolean hat–and another when I was six or seven, already in white pants. The story predates my time, but Howard would give all the men in the family a suit or jacket for Christmas every year. Here’s my father trying on one in, I believe, the late seventies. I would make and wear that jacket today.
A&H: With starting a new business there are always ups and downs. What have been some of the challenges with starting Howard Yount?
JS: We’ve mostly had ups, thankfully. The business was totally self-financed, so that presented some constraints, but I think they were helpful ones. And though I wouldn’t call it a challenge, finding the right manufacturers has taken a lot of hard work. It took a few fizzles before I found the right manufacturers for suits and jackets.
A&H: I noticed your line is manufactured around the world, why? Is there a benefit over staying domestic?
JS: Some of our goods–all of our shirts and casual belts, and half of our pants–are made in America. There are some benefits like quicker delivery and avoiding the headaches of shipping and customs, but to me the most important benefit is supporting an industry I value. That said, there are reasons to source from around the world. Some are aesthetic, and
others are structural; there’s a lot that simply can’t be done in the US. To the best of my knowledge (and I’ve looked) there’s no American equivalent to our Italian and English umbrella makers. Our cashmere sweaters, to take another
example, are made in Scotland by one of the best cashmere knitters in the world, using the best cashmere yarn, itself spun in Scotland. You can’t come close here.
A&H: Did you have a background in fashion or fashion design before starting HY?
JS: None at all. I do have a background in photography, which I think translates a little to the clothing world–form, color, composition, and the intangibles like drama and emotion that both photography and clothing can convey.
A&H: What were some things/advice your grandfather passed down to the family?
JS: I think there’s a certain Midwestern straightforwardness, and a headstrong work-ethic. Though I sell luxury goods, there’s not a lot of pageantry or pretension to it.
A&H: What do you think your grandfather would say about Howard Yount now?
JS: I often think about how it will blow my son’s mind that there was no internet when I was growing up, like saying there was no such thing as electricity. I think my grandfather would be astonished at the reach–we have customers all over the world–and the speed.
A&H: What’s your most treasured item and why?
I try not to get caught up on stuff, but I do love a pair of Howard Yount’s old cufflinks, an antique pocket watch my father gave me for my 18th birthday, and a silhouette of my son by Carter Kustera, a gift from my wife.
A&H: Future of the Howard Yount brand?
JS: In four years we’ve grown from a small collection of accessories–ties, pocket squares, socks–to a full line that runs head to toe, from umbrellas to shoes and everything in between. We’ll fill in more, and expand the line a bit; this fall we will have more jackets and suits than ever before. Big changes like a women’s line or a physical store are certainly possible, but not happening any time soon.
A&H: What is style in your opinion?
JS: To me style is knowledge, confidence, and a natural individuality.
A&H: If you could go back in time and give a young Jamison Stoltz one piece of advice what would you tell him?
JS: It works out in the end, but don’t wait to ask her out.