Tom Scott Embraces High-end Sweats

Tom Scott’s upscale knitwear is stocked at designer-packed destinations like Barneys and Project No. 8 in New York, Ikram in Chicago, and Colette in Paris. So it’s a testament to the broad appeal of his clothes that Scott decided to open his first stand-alone store and studio on Clinton Street last month (four doors down from his Lower East Side apartment) rather than in Soho or uptown. “For me, it’s one of the last really creative vestiges in New York,” he says. “I like to move off the beaten path.” Scott studied textiles at Philadelphia University and in Scotland before landing a job at Ralph Lauren, where he worked for seven years before starting his own line. Next year he’s launching Repeat Performance, an offshoot collection of archived styles re-created in various fabrics and yarns, available exclusively in the Tom Scott boutique. We talked to the designer about flea-market finds, high-end sweats, and seeking inspiration in bed ruffles and hair nets.

What made you decide to launch your own store?
We’re going to have a small, edited selection of items from the current season and a lot of one-of-a-kind pieces. We’ve been putting out new items every week in different fabrics.

What’s the inspiration behind your line?
Spring 2010 was inspired by the home, but things I would find in my grandmother’s home, like curtains and bed ruffles. We used a lot of nylon fabric inspired by sheer curtains and holey, mesh pieces inspired by hair nets or air vents. There are sweatshirts with big, over-the-top ruffles and chunky sweaters knit from strips of vintage bedsheets from the sixties.

Who are your favorite designers?
My background is in art-based textiles rather than fashion, so I look at designs from a conceptual point of view. But I admire Margiela and Comme des Garçons, and I have a little bit of a love affair with Stephan Schneider’s clothes for men.

What’s the first designer item you bought?
I went to school in Philadelphia, and we would make pilgrimages to Charivari. I think it was a Comme des Garçons shirt.

The Shirley Ra Ra Dress from the fall 2009 collection.Photo by Stephen Rose.

Where do you like to shop in New York?
I’m addicted to flea markets, especially the one in Fort Greene. I prefer to buy objects or antique-y kinds of things rather than clothes; I’m the kind of person who will wear something until it falls apart.

How would you describe your personal style?
I like a uniform, so I buy many variations of the same thing. Most recently I’m really into sweatshirts. I used to wear my dad’s old sweatshirts; now I have a really beautiful wool terry one from Stephan Schneider.

What trends are you appreciating right now?
I like that it’s getting colder.

Any trends that you’re over?
The eighties look; a lot of people are really working it on the Lower East Side. Maybe it’s because I did that look in the eighties, but it’s funny to see it re-created. I’ll see girls walking down the street that look like my friends from high school.

What’s one item you’re saving up to buy?
A Kasthall rug — it’s a multicolor wool pile rug that looks like confetti.

What should every woman have in her closet?
A good scarf. I forgot to wear mine today and I was freezing. I make a tube scarf that’s like wearing a big turtleneck.

What’s something you never leave the house without?
I always carry a bag — I have this one from Bless that looks like a kite. Recently I’ve been riding my bike a lot, so I’ve been wearing more backpacks.

Tom Scott Embraces High-end Sweats