Don Nash has been in the business of men’s fashion for 52 years in Mansfield. His was the first Ralph Lauren account in Ohio, and believes in the highest possible respect in business. “The maximum respect goes all the way to the sheep farmer,” he stated in his Third Street store downtown, Don Nash Limited.
Nash is aware of the headlines in the world, where textile workers are paid meager monthly wages, and the news of unsafe garment factories have resulted in thousands of deaths this year alone.
“They have absolutely no idea what they’re buying,” said Nash, of the ways corporations do business. “They just buy because a boss handed them a budget.”
Nash considers his clientele to be well-educated, and his extensive knowledge of wools for summer and winter alike, is just one facet of his expertise. Nash spoke knowledgeably of the world’s economic changes and the subsequent impact the changes have had on how he has done English Manner-style business over the years.
“People are dying by the hundreds, in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, and Bangladesh,” Nash cited. “Where they produce stuff, those people get paid $37 a month!” Nash has an intriguing philosophy. “What makes this country great? If a guy’s worth twenty bucks an hour, he gets twenty bucks. If a guy is going to do the detail of that flat seam, that perfect, and make a radius that perfect, he’s going to buy good cloth, and pay a good tailor.”
The downtown Mansfield location offers primarily men’s styles, women’s too, with the price of a button down ranging $75-$95.
It took 100 years since the railroad tracks went West, before the factories starting popping up along the rails. And once those factories developed, “Then you have a culture full of people that are, capable of making things with their hands. And my parents worked, so they didn’t want me to have to work in a factory. Their children made things with their minds. And that’s how the Midwest evolved,” Nash stated. “I experienced all that.”
In his fifty year span at the shop, he also saw how crude oil number five created a revolution. In fashion, that’s the invention of the synthetic. The process, which has led all the way up to microfiber today, is something Nash has experienced as a buyer, and continues with a collection of these fabrics still today.
Nash voiced his bottom line, “You follow the dollar” back to the places factories popped up because it was cheap labor.
Nash goes directly to those locations of the world where they are produced, “in the world of cotton,” he said, “and the world of wool.” Nash chooses the fabrics himself, chooses the colors, the patterns, and sells his choice in designer’s product from his shop in downtown. “That’s what makes the shop what it is. I do everything.”
His wools range in weight and texture and blend, originating from the South of England cottage industries to farmers in Peru. He does not walk into department stores to know what corporate competition is doing. “I just prefer to do what I do best.” Nash gives insight to his distinct character in clothing for men’s and women’s fashion. And a key characteristic of Nash’s style is color.
“I never was the navy blue kahki freak. You know, even as I wear it myself, today. It’s not my spirit. I got a little bit more ballsy than that.”
Nash has seen the Mansfield era of department stores come and go. Years ago there used to be twenty garment retailers like his own in the state, and were all doing good business. Today, his shop is the one of three still proudly doing business. And with some seriously “ballsy tweeds” in the Scottish room, Nash is housing the largest supply in the State for lambs’ wool tweed jackets. “My stuff’s pretty masculine. I don’t have the stuff the dancer’s like. And I don’t have anything against it, but it’s just not hairy enough.”
Nash knows there are no two stripes alike, between rope style weaves in his men’s jackets, to an interrupted-dot line on a navy coat, he’s ready to show the fine details of the work.
For Nash, the clothing is as much art as it is a process. “Look, for what I want to do here,” Nash stated, “and I’ve done it for fifty two years, so I’ve probably done more things right than I’ve done wrong. To be able to last that long, through all these economic variations, each store has to be a little bit different,” said Nash. “That’s what these little stores, from the East coast to the West coast, are all about.” And there is a process to the success.
“You have to just keep some things in your head, about what tended to sell, or what to back away from, unless you really think it’s the future. And if it’s the future, you stick with it,” Nash was firm to say. “Sooner or later it’ll work.”
One of the only regrets he’s ever had in business, was telling Ralph Lauren that it was a bad idea to embroider the polo symbol on their ties.
Nash was the first Ralph Lauren account in Ohio, and shared the experience of meeting the man himself. Nash has three of the original Ralph Lauren suits, in his own wardrobe, and three photographs of Lauren from different periods in his life. The first photograph while Lauren was in his twenties. Don Nash Limited continues the longstanding traditions in downtown, selling English clothing with a respect from bottom to top.