OTC Recommends: Smart Turnout

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Every now and then I come across a company that is truly unique and catches my eye.  It could be the products or marketing approach.  Sometimes it’s their buzz factor or ability to hit the market with the right thing at the right time.  In the case of Smart Turnout, it started with a watch band.

Page 195 of the 2007 Esquire Big Black Book showed a picture of a sharp looking Fortis chronograph on a red and blue ribbon watch strap.  The strap was unlike any other I had seen.  It was a standard looking preppy nylon strap but the band itself was constructed like a NATO watch strap with a decidedly military feel to it.  The combination of watch and strap was perfectly ironic:  gin and tonic meets Top Gun.  According to the copy, the strap was manufactured by Smart Turnout, an English company.  I was intrigued.

I tracked down that strap at J. Press and when paired with my Tutima chronograph gave me the same look.  I wanted to learn more about Smart Turnout and did a little digging.  At about the same time, Smart Turnout found me.  It seems in doing a web search they ran across an OTC article in which I referenced their company.

In the ensuing exchanges, I wound up learning that Smart Turnout makes a lot more than just watch straps.

The idea for the company came when Philip Turner was nearing the end of his 10 year period in the Scots Guards.  Philip was participating in a horse race at Sandown Park in 1992, and had a sweater knitted for the occasion in his regimental colors.

It drew many compliments back at the regiment and gave rise to the idea of developing more clothes in club colors and Smart Turnout was conceived.   The company has grown into one which is dedicated to producing a variety of unique products, all fashioned in the colors of the British and U.S. military, schools, and British and American Universities.

Smart Turnout sells a wide range of goods, including ties, cufflinks, cummerbunds, belts and braces, scarves and socks.  Starting this season, you can pick up smart webbing belts in the colors of the British Royal Marines and the Black Watch.  They are even getting into the sleepwear business with dressing gowns and pajamas in regimental colors.

As a relatively small company, Smart Turnout is looking to expand its reach and broaden its market.  In addition to a full service website, its American operation consists of haberdasheries like the aforementioned J. Press stocking a limited selection of items.  Personally I want more; I’d like to walk into a Smart Turnout store in, say, Boston.  I think that the brand could carry a nice little brick-and-mortar outlet in Bean Town.

I am especially fond of my Smart Turnout Yale cufflinks; the kind with the chain.  When I opened the small blue leather box, I was impressed with their quality and construction.  The detail alone in the school’s seal is quite remarkable.  In addition to acquiring a couple of additional watch straps, I also have an Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders regimental tie which is pretty sharp too.

If you are looking for that old school, old money look, this is the place to start.  In many ways it’s a preppy version of the candy store. I don’t often write this extensively about specific brands, but Smart Turnout has really caught my attention because of both the depth and breadth of its offerings.  It’s created a real niche for itself and I have not found anything quite like it.


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Chris Hogan, an association executive based in Washington, D.C., blogs at OffTheCuffDC.com. A lifelong interest in style and clothing led to sales and management positions at several Ralph Lauren stores and an active wardrobe consulting practice