Taking Ames

For one Richmond-based designer, getting into men’s fashion was plan B.

Before Marcel Ames became the guy in wingtips, he was on-track to join the boys in blue. The Richmond native was gearing up for a career in law enforcement when life—in the form of a concussion suffered during training—set the 30-year-old on a new path. Having grown up around a father who appreciated tailored suits (and having briefly worked in menswear in New York City years earlier), Ames threw caution to the wind and invested his life’s savings into launching his own menswear brand, X of Pentacles, in June 2016. Today, he produces pocket squares, ties and made-to-measure suits, as well as a collection of women’s scarves set to debut later this summer, which can be purchased from Ames directly. We recently chatted with the up-and-coming designer about his inspiration, making it in the tough business of retail, and the future of Virginia fashion.

On Inspiration: It’s actually kind of funny, I feel like everything relates back to my concussion. There was a period where I couldn’t look at anything, do anything. But when I wasn’t able to watch television or read books without getting a headache, black and white movies were kind of a thing. Film noir was the only thing I could watch without getting a migraine. My first collection, I  had a lot of art deco inspiration, things from the 1930s —Old Hollywood, Cary Grant kind of vibes. A lot of old movies, old books, things like that really inspired me. My recent collection, for spring and summer, was actually based on old stop-motion movies from the 1960s, like Clash of the Titans and Jason and the Argonauts, those sort of campy but classic movies that have that vintage vibe. 

Blue Ridge Mountains pocket square from the Virginia Heritage Collection.

On Making It: One of my biggest breaks was getting to work with Ledbury in Richmond; they were carrying my pocket squares and recently sold out of them. I met with Paul Trible and we got to sit down and chat. Giving me a shot, because they’re such a big deal here and on a national level, I’d say that’s my biggest break so far. 

On the X of Pentacles Customer: I think it’s kind of broken down into two guys. One knows that he likes nice things and is looking to sort of build or craft a wardrobe, but doesn’t really know how and could use some guidance. I think the other consumer would be a person who has already established his own style and is looking for unique pieces. Both are familiar with different nuances, constructions and fabrics and things like that … they’re just looking for nice capsule pieces.

On the Future: I see X of Pentacles as a front-runner in creating a sartorial identity for the South. We often look to larger cities like New York, San Francisco or even D.C. for high-end items and brands. I see myself as having something to offer here locally in Richmond, and putting us on the map as a destination for all things high-end quality menswear.

Be sure to look for Ames’ Virginia Heritage Collection, which features pocket square designs highlighting landmarks, including Main Street Station in Richmond, the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Williamsburg Battlefield. Facebook.com/XofPentacles, Ledbury.com


This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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