When agility is the ultimate power tie

Anthony T. Kirby, owner of Finickey, has perfected the art of re-inventing himself.

In junior high school, he wanted to be a long-haul truck driver. By the time he got to high school, however, he had done a 180-degree turn and decided he loved fashion. He longed to be one of the “cool, sharp-dressed kids,” but his mom didn’t want to support his clothing habit. So he took part-time jobs to fund his dress. “That’s how I eventually got into the menswear industry,” Kirby said.

After high school, he left his home in Philadelphia to attend The Tobe-Coburn School For Fashion in New York City, and he found employment in retail specialty shops in the Big Apple. While working at a men’s haberdashery in Atlanta, he would see traveling salesmen visit the store to hawk their neckwear collections. “They usually had a suitcase or duffel bag,” Kirby said. “I told the owner of the store this is what I want to do, I want to be a rep. He said, ‘you want to be a rep? I’ll give you $50 and a suitcase.’ Well, I got the suitcase, but I never got the $50. We still joke about that.”

In 1995, Kirby launched his first company, a startup called Anthony T. New York. He designed neckwear and dress furnishings using fine fabrics from Italy and England and sold them wholesale to specialty stores and department stores. That $50 and suitcase story? “That’s how this whole thing got started. This is how I used to sell my collection. Those suitcases were part of my legacy; I would go door to door to stores or clients.”

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