By Patra Taylor

Spring sweetgrass, Rockville red, lemon square, Hunley gray, mimosa brunch — these are names of colors that conjure up vivid images of life in the Lowcountry. Inspired by local culture, two friends set out to redefine Southern style. Their vision? Men’s pocket squares, the perfect replacement for (or addition to) the traditional tie.

 

According to Heyward Hamilton, one of the partners in Charleston Pocket Square, what began as fun and lively conversation among friends eventually turned into a clothing business. “Charleston is such a fashion-conscious place,” states Mr. Hamilton, who has been in the clothing manufacturing business for nearly two decades. “We’ve been noticing more and more pocket squares in the pocket’s of men’s blazers. It’s definitely a trend.”

His partner, Ben Bussey, agrees wholeheartedly as he ditched his ties in favor of pocket squares before it was trendy. “A few years ago, a friend gave me a pocket square made out of a beautiful Indian sari,” explains Mr. Bussey, who owns Left Right Now Ideas, a company that wholesales websites to ad agencies, marketers and publishers. “I really liked it. Eventually, I took the fabric from some shirts and ties I wasn’t wearing and had it made into pocket squares. I got so many compliments on them because they were so different. But the one I got the most compliments on was made out of seersucker. Everybody just loved it.”

The friends meet regularly for months to talk through all the “what ifs.” They kept coming back to seersucker as their first line because it comes in a variety of colors and it was the perfect fabric to add interest to an otherwise plain blazer. “Over the course of our discussions, we must have come up with dozens of logo ideas,” continues Mr. Bussey. “When Heyward suggested the guinea, I knew it was perfect.”

According to Mr. Hamilton, guineafowl are wild birds native to Africa, but have been introduced elsewhere including across the American South. Since flying into town about eight years ago and taking up residence on Lamboll Street, Gus and Ginny (as they are known by their neighbors) have multiplied. “This little flock of birds has added a lot of local flare to their historic South of Broad neighborhood,” notes Mr. Hamilton. “They have become the mascots of Lamboll Street and I think the guinea is the perfect image to add a bit of Southern attitude to a pocket square.”

Marrying an image of a strutting guinea with a colorful seersucker fabric square, the two partners created a unique foundation product from which to launch an entire line of clothing and other items that they believe will help blend traditional style with modern-day style. “We are already selling these unique items as groomsmen’s gifts and table gifts for weddings,” notes Mr. Bussey. “What a neat idea.”

Sundress season, Shem Creek shrimp boil, S.O.B. blue, Barbados pink and midnight at Breach Inlet are the other five exclusive colors of seersucker available on the company’s website, charlestonpocketsquare.com. They are also available at Noddy, located on Queen Street; the partners are in the process of rolling out the pocket squares in fine men’s clothing stores along King Street and beyond. “We’ll also be expanding along the East Coast in the near future,” notes Mr. Hamilton. “The bulk of the squares we are distributing now are seersucker, but plans are also in the works to manufacture printed silk. There will be a wide variety; some will fit seasonally, while others will be perfect for year-round wear.”

“Whenever possible, our pocket squares, as well as our future products, will be manufactured in the South,” says Mr. Bussey. “The South has such a long heritage in cotton and the textile industry as a whole. Heyward and I feel it’s so important to try to bring manufacturing jobs to the South, so that’s our goal.”

Mercury newspaper racks are located at the following locations:

The Meeting Street Inn

Clair's Service Station at 334 Folly Rd.

Harris Teeter on Houston-Northcutt Blvd.

The Square Onion in I'On

Mt. Pleasant Library on Mathis Ferry Rd.