Meet The STL Designer Handcrafting Men's Favorite Accessory

By Patrick Dolan
In Style

Jenny Hill—the designer and maker behind the beloved St. Louis-based menswear accessory line, Lonesome Traveler—creates ties and pocket squares that are carefully designed and skillfully constructed by hand. Her personal story is about a life less lonesome than her brand’s name suggests—made of traveling, collecting and creating. Each tie holds a story, as she selects high-quality fabrics from around the globe. Lonesome Traveler has a certain quality and uniqueness beyond replication; unlike mass-produced products that become the norm—exchanging origination for presumed discount.

Photo by Mary Frances Foster

Photo by Mary Frances Foster

Tell us how Lonesome Traveler came to life. What inspired you to create your line of ties?
Before moving to St Louis, I spent a single year in Dallas, TX while my husband completed a medical fellowship at UT Southwestern. I was working as a personal trainer and cooked at a vegan diner.

I needed a way to spend my free time and harness my creative energy. So, Lonesome Traveler was created in my kitchen using the Singer I bought when I was 16 years old and vintage fabric I had been collecting. I have a degree in interior design but have always loved fashion, and more specifically menswear. I also noticed that there was a lack of products aimed toward men in the world of high-end, handcrafted goods. This was right before Christmas 2015, and the response I got during the holiday season made me realize I had created something special, and I began my transition to making Lonesome Traveler a full-time job.

What do you keep in mind when you’re fabric shopping for your collection?
When searching for new fabrics, I keep three things in mind: quality, feel, and aesthetic. I use a mix of vintage, dead stock and new fabrics. Quality is the first thing I look at and is non-negotiable for my products. I try to work with 100-percent natural fabrics, either linen or cotton. This is one reason I love working with vintage fabric when possible, as it is generally very well-crafted. I basically pick whatever I fall in love with, and magically, the fabrics I love manage to fall into a beautiful, cohesive line.

What keeps you inspired while working in your studio?
My customers keep me inspired—and deadlines of course. I find I have a lot of repeat customers and referrals, which is so touching and makes me want to continue to put out the best products I can. I also absolutely adore doing weddings. Books on tape help me get through the long sewing hours. I’m currently re-listening to “The Virgin Suicides” and just finished “A Little Life.” Audible and Goodreads are my two most frequented websites.

You can purchase Lonesome Traveler online, and locally from Urban Matter, Ruby Francis, Union Studio, and May’s Place.

Patrick Dolan is the founder and writer behind MANMADE, a lifestyle guide centered on showcasing handmade and independently produced products for the modern St. Louis man. In addition to his online publication, Patrick highlights the work of local makers, designers, and businesses by curating year-round pop-up shopping events in St. Louis.

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