Tommy Wilkie, a fashionable fourth-grader with big blue headphones anchored around his neck and a skateboard at his side, has launched his own clothing line, a venture that began two years ago with a pair of scissors and his own sweatshirt.
The Hampton Bays resident, then 8, begged his mother, Kerry Wilkie, to let him cut up his hoodie. She agreed, albeit reluctantly.
“Fine, just don’t cut yourself,” she recalls saying.
Soon he returned with the reclaimed sweatshirt vest—and a new vision. Though Ms. Wilkie had to explain to her ambitious son that he would need to buy his own fabric and sew his own sweatshirts if he wanted to sell them, she agreed to get him sewing lessons. He learned the trade from Southampton designer Alyssa Smith, who helped him design a pattern and taught him various stitches. He worked his way up to sewing a sweatshirt a week.
Tommy came up with the name “Hampton Hoodie” for his line, but was dismayed to learn from his mom that it had already been taken.
“Dang-it!” he said in response.
And his mom replied, “That’s it!”
Tommy’s line of sweatshirts, which are now available at Skidmore’s Sports and Styles on East Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays and Bean 2 Tween on Jobs Lane in Southampton, each feature his “Dangit” logo, which he trademarked, as well as a cartoon character that Tommy created and Steve Wittemann, his cousin’s husband, designed at his graphics company, STW Graphics in Ronkonkoma.
Before his baseball game at Red Creek Park on Monday, Tommy sported a sweatshirt picturing a character flying from his skateboard and saying, “Dangit!”
“It’s just creative,” Tommy, now 10, said of his love for sewing and designing clothing.
He attends Our Lady of the Hamptons, where he excels in tap dancing. Last month he was awarded First Place Platinum and the high score of his division at a dance competition. He also plays basketball and baseball. Tommy has an older sister, Kate, who is 12.
“He’s created his own sense of style,” Ms. Wilkie said of her son, who has been dressing himself since he was just a toddler. “He’s just that type of kid.”
Ms. Wilkie explained that they chose heather gray material made in the United States—his material comes from North Carolina—for his hoodies and the clothing is sewed at a manufacturer in Brooklyn. The hoodies, which come with different colored stitching, cost $45 on Tommy’s website, www.dangitstore.com, and $40 in stores; he is asking stores to charge less to encourage community members to shop local.
Each sweatshirt features a front pocket specially designed by Tommy to safely stow an iPod. “I didn’t want it to be a regular sweatshirt,” he explained.
Tommy plans to sell his line, which he hopes to expand with T-shirts and other items, in flea markets and outside Skidmore’s this summer.
“One of my friends is begging for one,” he said.