Catching Up with David Hamilton, Owner of Hamilton Shirts
David Hamilton of Hamilton Shirts inherited a clothing company from his family—When he took on the business with his sister, the enormity of preserving the family legacy weighed upon him. But David and his sister Kelly hardly let those fears stop them.
Hamilton Shirts has been in business since 1883, begun by the Hamilton siblings’ great-grandfather. For four generations, the Hamilton family has created custom shirting made from the highest quality cotton, and they offer a truly bespoke shirt.
Preserving the family legacy meant making a huge career move for David, but once he made the leap, he hasn’t looked back. Hamilton Shirts is currently the oldest business in Houston, Texas. David and Kelly are also Cotton Makers, a group of craftsmen and women who work with cotton and whose professional risks have yielded some amazing success stories. We caught up with David for a chat about how he faced his fears and turned a family business into a rewarding career.
What was your biggest fear when starting this venture?
Fashion is an industry that is always changing and very few businesses are able to remain relevant over long periods of time. Our greatest fear was that we wouldn’t be able to continue the success of previous generations running the shirt factory. Could we remain true to the brand while at the same time evolving?
Was there a specific moment or turning point when you knew this was what you wanted to do for a living?
Growing up I was not very interested in the family business and perhaps took it for granted. After graduating college I worked in finance and found the work personally unsatisfying. At that point I started to realize how special Hamilton Shirts was. It had an amazing product, heritage and team. I was nervous about leaving finance behind, but knew almost immediately after making the transition that it was the right move.
What does “creation” mean to you?
I think it takes many forms for different people or organizations. For us, it’s about working together over a long period of time to create something special. Continually looking for some small, incremental improvement that we can make. That’s the kind of dedication it takes to be truly best in class.
Could we remain true to the brand while at the same time evolving?