Recipe for Success
When Thomas Barnett’s sons were young, he became disenfranchised with the “win at all costs” mentality of some local youth organizations. He wanted better for his sons – and all local children who wanted to play hockey.
“The environment was much more positive when I was a kid,” says Barnett, whose favorite childhood memories include playing hockey on the outdoor rink his father, the late Donald Barnett ’50, built in the family’s backyard. Donald Barnett was very active at the college throughout his life, including goaltending on the inaugural Golden Griffs hockey team of 1949-50. He received a LaSalle Medal in 2011 for his service to alma mater.
In 2001, Thomas Barnett formed the Buffalo Shamrocks Hockey Club.
“We focus on sportsmanship, team play and character building,” says Barnett of the organization, which hosts programming from learn to skate up to Bantam majors (14 year olds). “When you focus on the kids, the environment and culture, and you don’t focus on the wins or losses, they become champions.”̉
The Buffalo Shamrocks began with 30 players in 2001-2002; today, the organization is at 300. Barnett was recognized with an award from National Hockey League Hall of Famer Mark Messier in 2009 for his service to youth hockey.
Barnett’s love of fine clothing also developed from his father. He taught him that looking good and dressing well was part of the recipe for success.
Barnett parlayed this lesson into a career. He worked for many years in the clothing business, including as a partner in The Squire Shop, a men’s store in Snyder. He decided to travel to London, and learned the art of bespoke fashion at the storied Savile Row tailor shops ̶ the birthplace of bespoke clothing and where the British royal family has had their clothing made dating back to the 1700s. Bespoke is a specific, rare process, not to be confused with custom-made, made-to-measure or tailored clothing.
At his flagship store, Tom Barnett New York in Snyder, customers receive one-on-one attention from Barnett by appointment only.
“No one is built the same, so we take dozens of measurements of our customers to create a custom pattern,” says Barnett.
Every piece of clothing is individually designed, hand-cut and made from scratch of the finest fabrics from around the world.
“Clients choose every detail, from the style, expression of the garment, color of the buttonhole threads, to the pattern of the silk lining of the jacket."
A jacket or suit can take six to eight weeks to finish with Barnett’s tailors working up to 65 hand-hours on each garment. "This is something that requires years and years of training and is a skill that is passed down through generations.”
Barnett develops personal relationships with his clients and takes pride in helping them look their best. His father would be proud.
The Tom Barnett Bespoke collection starts at approximately $2,500 for a suit. Given the quality and care put into each garment, Barnett’s customers are making an investment in their clothing. He recently launched his Tom Barnett Sons line, still custom, and one that is “created for a younger generation of men looking for something sharp without the higher price tag,” he says.
Since starting Tom Barnett New York more than 30 years ago, Barnett’s business has grown exponentially. In addition to his Snyder location, he now has locations in New York City (formerly at the famed Waldorf Astoria but now located at the NY Palace during renovations at the Waldorf), Washington, D.C. and Beverly Hills.
Barnett’s clientele includes CEOs, lawyers, businessmen and professional athletes.
“We often get calls from agents around the time of the NHL draft, asking if we can dress their clients,” says Barnett. “This year I had the privilege of dressing many top prospects including one of the top-ranked goaltenders in the draft, Mads Sogaard, from Denmark.”
Barnett also received a call from Canisius asking him to create a special Griffs jersey for last year’s Battle of the Bridge game versus Niagara University. He was happy for the privilege of displaying his team’s design skills and showing his support for the college’s hockey program.
Barnett believes things in his life have genuinely and organically come full circle.
“My dad introduced me to hockey, to love the game and gave me the opportunity play from little league through playing collegiately at Canisius. He introduced me to gentlemanly pursuits and, of course, to clothing. And now, walking, and I suppose skating, in my father's footsteps is quite an honor. He showed me how to leverage my life around the things and the people I love."