Home-Grown Style: An Interview With Bill Thomas Of Bills Khakis


What do golfers wear who work in the clothing industry? It’s a topic destined to become a regular series here.

We debut with Bill Thomas, who launched his company Bills Khakis making traditionally cut cotton trousers here in the US — Reading, Pennsylvania, to be exact. The brand has expanded its offerings to just about every apparel category, and even carried in a couple dozen golf shops. With so much to choose from, we asked Thomas what he likes to wear on the links and here’s what he said.

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GS: Tell us about your golfing history. When did you learn, what clubs do you currently play, and at what courses?

BT: I was introduced to golf by my mother and father when I was about 8. Played in local junior tournaments and on high school and college teams. I was three-time Division III All-American at Denison University. My highwater mark was the summer of ’89 when thanks to a three-putt from 25 feet, I qualified as an alternate for the 1989 US Amateur at Merion. Unfortunately, no one got sick, broke a leg, or withdrew, so I watched Chris Patton win on TV.

As for equipment, I play Titleist AP2 irons, Titleist driver and hybrid, TaylorMade 3 wood, Cleveland wedges, and a Ping putter. We play nearby public courses. Several of them were once private, so quality and challenge is high. I play all my golf with my nine-year-old son. He keeps getting better while I’m getting worse. It’s fun to watch.

GS: As demonstrated in the above photo, the clothes you make are certainly at home on the golf course. Are there any Bills Khakis items or categories you think golfers should take a closer look at?

BT: Our poplin pants and shorts are ideal for golf, as are our seersucker, madras and island twills. These products are perfectly adapted for golf within the scope of 100%-natural fabrics. The same holds true for our Supima pique polo, which wicks and absorbs quickly. It’s incredibly durable and colorfast, too. The perfect golf shirt as is! Which reminds me of your recent post on Arnold Palmer wearing a navy polo with yellow poplin pants. Awesome photograph. You can pull this look together quickly with our poplin pants and a Supima polo.

GS: If you could design a golf collection (and hey, are you planning to?), what would you offer?

BT: The bones of it are there now, but I’d explore cotton-rich fabrications with a technical edge as a starting point.

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GS: The saddle shoes in the photo are certainly a classic footwear choice, but do you really play sockless?

BT: I typically wear socks or peds depending on the time of year. My old brown leather saddle shoes are so comfortable, I can go without if I’m only playing a few holes in the evening. I wear FJ Classics as well as ECCO.

GS: Do you have any sartorial pet peeves?

BT: I don’t get too hung up over anything. Then again, I’m not crazy about people wearing their shirts out. There’s also a lot of polyester out there today. I’ve tried some shirts made from performance fabric and I don’t get it. It sticks to you. Natural fibers work better for me. My son is into the Rickie Fowler hats and garb. I’m humored by it because he’s only nine, and I’m convinced he’ll grow out of it. Plus, it’s taught him to tuck in his shirt! I’m not a stickler on wearing hats in the pro shop or locker room, but I do think guys should remove their hats when in the bar or grill room, unless they’ve made a hole-in-one that day. In that case, they’re not of sound mind and can do whatever they want.

GS: And what about among the pros?

BT: It’s a mixed bag. Some look great, others not. I’d really have to study it to determine who I think is best and worst dressed. As much as I don’t like the Ricky look, I completely respect his originality and trendsetting style. It’s one thing to look different (Payne Stewart/Jesper Parnevik), it’s another thing to get people into your look.

2 Responses to “Home-Grown Style: An Interview With Bill Thomas Of Bills Khakis”

  1. joe morgan Says:

    can you please ask Bill a question? I am A LONG TIME customer of the M2 8.5, polins, and recently the shotbun belts–had to buy 2 since I get too fat from time to time! I prob have 20 prs ob Bills Klakis

    I really LOVE the new bison penny loafers but just cannot believe Bill Thomas would “do this” to us!!!! 375.00!!!?? IF they had a Goodyear welt (bill knows that they are the best because I have seen in in his OWN ADS wearing alden goodyear shell loafs)

    This is a rubber camp type sole that can only be replaced 2-3 times max–he would know what I mean–the cobbler “runs out of leather” to catch the stitching! I want the shoe, but since Bill went to Denison, and I did as well I want him to sell me a pair for 200! I still live in Columbus, OH 20 minutes from his alma mater and am sure I know of the army surplus store he started buying his khakis from!! I went to the same store in the early 1970’s! ask him if it was on Rt 161!! I know the store–we share a lot in common but I do not know Bill
    You can tell him I also know menswear enough to know “they” are chinos technically—NOT khakis since khaki is a color–I know clothing
    Can Bill help out a fellow from Granville OH who moved a few miles west and sell me some Bisons for 200?

  2. GolfStyle Says:

    Joe, Bill had this to say:

    “He is correct about the army surplus store but unfortunately the bison leather loafer moc is a running item and not likely to be placed on sale. However, please have him keep his eye on the boat shoe!”

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