meet nashville: 5 in 5 with otis james

otis james/photo by sean hagwell

after moving here in 2009 with a desire to jump into the clothing business somehow, otis james landed a job at a local tuxedo shop.  he soaked up as much as he could but a few months later, when he took on a simple commissioned job to create ties for a coworker’s father and brother for father’s day, his life has never been the same.

in spring 2010, james took the plunge and got a business license and a little over a year later, he quit his job and was able to create handcrafted ties & caps full time.  in 2011, he won first place in garden & gun‘s made in the south awards in the fashion category.  now, with a keen eye for just the right materials and his attention to detail, alongside mentions in publications most recently like gq and southern living, otis james is  carving a niche for himself outside our nashville community too.  but…onto the more important questions:

1) do you have a favorite knot?  i wouldn’t say I have a favorite knot, but my go-to is the half windsor. i tie my neckties a little sloppy, unlike bow ties, which i keep fairly neat.

2) what makes your ties & caps different than others?  everything. well, the big difference on the ties is the materials. i very rarely use pure silk. i like silk/wool blends and very fine wools. also, the details set them apart, from the fine hand stitching on the buttonholes and slip-stitches to the hand-printed hemp/cotton labels. we’ll even paint your name on the label if you ask.

the caps are all handcrafted to order for the wearer. the materials I use and the construction details make for a cap that will adapt to the wearer. to me, a cap should almost become one with the wearer, and like a good pair of jeans, feel good to wear every day. i use leather as the brim stiffener, which makes for a durable, flexible brim that won’t crease, has a natural curve, packs flat, and will adapt to the handling practices of the wearer.

3) at one point in history, touching a man’s tie was grounds for a duel…witnessed any since your business has taken off?  i haven’t yet, but next time someone touches my tie, i’ll be sure to give them a stern warning.

4) did you know a person who collects ties is called a grabatologist…maybe you need a grabatologist frequent buyer punch card?  never heard that term before. did you make that up? i’m down with a punch card system. buy 10, get one free, maybe? i really hope to implement my tie of the season club next year, where subscribers will sign up for a one year membership and receive a new tie each season. the tie will be the same for every member, but it will be a surprise each time and exclusive only to the club members. you don’t know what it will be until it arrives in the mail. so look for that soon…

 5) that’s a great ideawhat’s next for otis james?  hopefully catching up on sleep! that probably won’t come until january, though. for now, we’re launching several new cap options next month, including two new styles. we have some great fabrics for fall/winter that i’m really excited about. wools, cashmeres, camel hair. also, we will continue to release new ties on the website every week. if you want to stay up on our latest offerings, we have a weekly email newsletter called the cordial dispatch. there are some really great things coming through the end of the year. sign up on my website –


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