Ascot Shop & Talbott: Union of Style in La Jolla

Well-suited: Ascot Shop’s new Robert Talbott ‘shop-in-shop’ continues retailers’ longstanding partnership

La Jolla’s Ascot Shop has an impressive new area in which to highlight the luxury men’s fashions of one of its oldest merchandisers — Robert Talbott.

The newly renovated “shop-in-shop” (in which a retailer such as Ascot Shop rents a portion of its floor space to a company such as Talbott) is just the latest in a merger that began shortly after both businesses took flight in 1950.

Owner Bill White, who began working at the Ascot Shop part-time while attending San Diego State (eventually purchasing it from the original owner Jack Matzinger and family), said the Ascot Shop was the eighth store to carry Robert Talbott apparel — and the only one of those original eight retailers still in business.

“We’re their oldest account … (and) their largest account for a single-store operation,” White chimed. “Talbott started out as a neckwear company and they’ve expanded to become a lifestyle brand that encompasses the whole spectrum of clothing, from sportswear to outerwear to trousers and shirts.”

White, whose son, Andrew, and daughter, Alysson, help him run the business, said his father, a loan officer at Merrill Lynch, also shopped at the Ascot.

“I never thought of this as a career,” White told La Jolla Light, 41 years after he started at Ascot Shop. “I started here part-time and I probably would have followed (my dad) at Merrill Lynch, but the owner, Jack, was looking for somebody to take over. I kind of took to the business and liked it.”

Talbott founders Bob and Audrey Talbott landed the Ascot account by driving to La Jolla from Carmel, California with some silk neckties and their young son, Robb (who would take more to winemaking and launch the Talbott Vineyards, located in the Santa Lucia Highlands area of Monterey County).

“It’s a neat story and I think the fact that Talbott is a California company has a special meaning to our clients,” White said. “We carry some nice, high-end clothing companies like Corneliani and Hickey Freeman, but we do a ton of business with Talbott. They are our No. 1 vendor by leaps and bounds. That’s why something like this makes a ton of sense for us, because our clients identify so much with the brand.

“We actually have clients that will go up and get a tour of the Talbott factory when they’re in Carmel,” White added.

The 700-square-foot shop-in-shop, which opened Nov. 13, is Talbott’s third such venture to open this year. The space is designed to reflect the brand’s origins in the Monterey Peninsula, including coastal imagery, dark hardwood flooring and Carmel stone.

“It has a very different feel and flavor than the rest of our shop,” White said. “It gives the Talbott brand a different identity.”

The Ascot Shop received a major remodel in 2000, under the auspices of famed La Jolla architect Robert Mosher.

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