Tom James


Tom James fits and manufactures custom high-quality suits by coming to its customers and providing excellent customer service.

By Stephanie Crets

Finding the perfect suit can be a daunting task with so many different types of fits, brands and stores to visit. And shopping in of itself can be an exhausting chore that takes too much time and effort. But Tom James wants to make it easier than ever by offering high-quality, made-to-measure suits. And the best part? “We come to you,” CEO Todd Browne says. “When we offer the best-quality product for your price range and service at a high level, a mutual respect develops.”

The 50-year-old company founded in 1966 wants to eliminate the part of the process where the customers feel like they’re fending for themselves in a retail store. “It’s a constantly revolving door with sales professionals in the retail environment, but 50 percent of our salesforce has been here for seven-plus years,” Browne says. “When you can develop a relationship with someone, someone you’re going to invest a lot of money in clothing with over the years, you can trust their guidance and perspective and focus on what you do best. We come to you, save you a lot of time and it’s a trusting relationship.”

Tom James has doubled its size in the last five years, and Browne, who has been part of the company for 26 years, says it’s on track for continued consistent growth. While the company is known for bringing custom suits, slacks and shirts to the marketplace, Tom James is also expanding its ready-made line of casual wear and its custom jeans program. “People have just loved our custom programs because a lot of people don’t fit into a regular medium, large or extra-large – whatever a given size scale is,” Browne notes. “So we’re customizing our accessories and casual-wear as well.”

The company’s biggest challenge has been creating infrastructure to support its current and ongoing growth – a good problem to have. Since its growth, Tom James has opened more facilities, hired more people and upgraded its processes to handle demand.

“Doubling every five years is a daunting challenge and we’ve had to address every single facet of our company from our customer service with our clients to our product to our systems and processes,” Browne explains. “We’re consistently looking for more to support what we’re providing our clients so we can maintain our quality and the integrity of our how we do business and service.”

Owning It

Tom James has offered custom products and service for 50 years and covers every facet of the process, including creating a custom pattern for every single garment. The company owns its own mills, weaves its own cloth and owns its manufacturing facilities so it can control production, quality and all production schedules.

“When you own your manufacturing facilities, it gives you the flexibility to adjust with the times – not just in terms with fashion trends, but also with economic times,” Browne explains. “We can respond to what our customers need and it gives us a tremendous edge where we can control our cloth and manufacturing process. That’s why I’ll go head-to-head with any garment at any price point and you’ll find the finest one with us in terms of quality and cloth. And it’ll be custom compared to the marketplace, which is what our customers want.”

With 106 offices and more than 4,000 employees worldwide, Tom James credits its success to its people, who take an ownership mentality with the company. Tom James focuses on building up its people while the people build the business. “We are committed to molding and shaping the lives of the people who work here,” Browne says. “If we build and develop people, they’ll take good care of our clients and build a successful business. But the great credit belongs to our founder, Spencer Hays. He established Tom James on a set of principles and those have guided us in the way we treat our employees and customers for 50 years. When you run a company by principles, it helps you keep your priorities straight.”

Browne says he doesn’t take this responsibility lightly. “I hear from so many customers, such as the CEO of a Fortune 500 company in London, ‘I don’t think I’d be CEO if it weren’t for the clothier who takes care of me,’” he says. “You’d never imagine some of the most successful individuals would give so much credit to their dress, but that’s the way many of us are judged immediately.

“What I’m most proud of is how we change lives outside of Tom James with our customers and how we change lives inside of Tom James,” Browne continues. “Our slogan this year for our 50th anniversary: Tom James – celebrating 50 years of changing lives.”

Corporate Head Office

Retail Merchandiser Magazine

Cringleford Business Centre,
Intwood Road Cringleford,
Norwich, UK, NR6 4AU

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Chicago, IL 60611

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