Behind the Crown: Chris Knott on His Finely Tailored Peter Millar Brand

Chris Knott - Peter Millar
Chris Knott - Peter Millar

Carolina boy Chris Knott sits down with QC Exclusive to discuss the acquisition of his brand, Peter Millar, by luxury goods conglomerate Richemont. He also talks about his golf handicap,  his favorite cocktail, and his  Sinatra and Crosby.
Chris knott started selling clothing at Ashworth’’s in Fuquay, NC at the ripe old age of 14. Now, his brand Peter Millar, known for its classic patterns and on-trend styles, has been acquired by none other than Richemont, the luxury goods conglomerate that owns some of the world’’s premier brands. Find out from the man himself how it feels to be included in the same breath as brands like Cartier, Montblanc, Van Cleef and Arpel, and Purdey Rifles. 

We know that you have you have been involved in the fashion industry since you were a teenager, how did you get started and where?

Selling clothes at Ashworths in Fuquay, NC at the age 14.

Did you always know that you wanted to have a career in the fashion industry or did it just kind of happen?

I really like the job from the start. I wanted to be a manufacturer rep in the beginning.

When did you actually start designing clothes and what was your first piece and how did it turn out?   

As a sales trainee in NY for a suit maker,  I got to work with the Italy mills in designing suits and sportcoat fabrics.

Were you going through fabric swatches while your buddy’s were out playing baseball or were you a normal kid?

No,  I was playing all sports till I started working at the Men’s store.  I was put on commission at an early age and liked the money so I worked 6 days a week selling clothes all the way through college.
 
What about growing up in North Carolina has influenced your designs with your brand Peter Millar?

Folks in the South have always been considered good dressers. Alex Julian was a big influence on me early on.  He was all about color and was a NC native.  I was paying $85 retail for his knit shirt in High School.  A fellow from Fuquay was his national sales manager and had worked at the same store I grew up in.  Ashworth’s.  So we followed the Julian brand closely.

For people that aren’t familiar with Peter Millar, how would you describe your style, and what kind of guy do you have in mind when designing?

Wearable color.  Classic, not traditional. Current but not modern. On-trend but not trendy.

What time period is your favorite when it comes to men’’s style?

The 40’s and 50’s were the dressing years.  Men had all their clothes tailored back then. 

What is your least favorite?

The 1970’s. Too much double knit polyester.

If you could have anybody wearing your clothes alive or dead, who would it be?

Frank Sinatra.

Peter Millar clothes can now be seen all over the PGA Tour and is worn by a lot of the world’s best golfers. How did you break into the sportswear market and who currently wears Peter Millar on the Tour?

We have Bill Haas,  Brandt Snedeker and Harris English. Bill and Brant are back to back Fed Ex cup winners.  My Partner, Scott Mahoney and Millie Graham from Marketing really have all the tour connections.   Our president of golf,  Todd Martin knows every pro in the industry also.

Can you play? What is your golf handicap? Tell the truth!

Seven — I have always been able to play but never have committed to getting it down.  I play tournaments but really use golf as a social avenue.

Peter Millar was acquired by one of the world’s most prestigious Luxury Goods conglomerates, Richemont, which also owns other premium luxury brands like Purdey Rifles, Cartier, Montblanc, Dunhill, Chloe, and Van Cleef and Arpels just to name a few. Did you ever imagine your little startup company would ever get to this stature, and how do you think it will effect the direction and growth of the company moving forward?

I never imagined that would happen.  Since our brand is in all the right places,  the right buyers were aware of our brand and quality.  Richemont loves our focus and limited distribution.  I think they will help us grow our global footprint.  I was just in Milan on the best shopping street and they had 5 retail stores.  That was impressive.