In The Burbs

Prepster paradise: A whale of a new store in The Woodlands is anything but subtle

Prepster paradise: A whale of a new store in Woodlands is not subtle

Vineyard Vines store in The Woodlands October 2013
Vineyard Vines stores reflect founders Shep and Ian Murray's love of boating and the Northeastern shore - down to the Marlin hanging from the ceiling. Photo by Marlo Saucedo
Vineyard Vines store in The Woodlands October 2013 girls' clothing department
Preppy looks are for litle girls, too. Photo by Marlo Saucedo
Vineyard Vines store in The Woodlands October 2013 boys' clothing department
Yachting togs in adorable miniature Photo by Marlo Saucedo
Vineyard Vines store in The Woodlands October 2013 men's shirts and ties
 Bright colors in the professional yet whimsical men's section Photo by Marlo Saucedo
Vineyard Vines store in The Woodlands October 2013
Vineyard Vines' cool, campy and colorful neckties have been worn by every living president. Photo by Marlo Saucedo
Vineyard Vines store in The Woodlands October 2013 women's clothing department
The women's section carries casual and comfortable clothing. Photo by Marlo Saucedo
Vineyard Vines store in The Woodlands October 2013 two men with pink mascot whale
Brothers Shep and Ian Murray, founders of the company: "We make ties so we don't have to wear them." Photo by Marlo Saucedo
Vineyard Vines store in The Woodlands October 2013
Vineyard Vines store in The Woodlands October 2013 girls' clothing department
Vineyard Vines store in The Woodlands October 2013 boys' clothing department
Vineyard Vines store in The Woodlands October 2013 men's shirts and ties
Vineyard Vines store in The Woodlands October 2013
Vineyard Vines store in The Woodlands October 2013 women's clothing department
Vineyard Vines store in The Woodlands October 2013 two men with pink mascot whale

Hot on the heels of buzzy new arrivals LUSH and Tumi to Market Street in The Woodlands comes Houston's first area retail location of the uber-preppy Vineyard Vines.

Founders (and brothers) Shep & Ian Murray, who grew up in Greenwich, Conn., and spent summers at Martha’s Vineyard, were both unfulfilled and unhappy as grown-ups in their Manhattan corporate offices. So in 1998 they quit their necktie-wearing jobs in order to sell neckties, founding a now greatly expanded clothing company on whimsical and varied tie designs.

 They quit their necktie-wearing jobs in order to sell neckties. 

These colorful, campy creations took off because they are simultaneously corporate and casual, perfectly presentable workday wear that nevertheless scream “weekend,” reminding each wearer that "the good life" can be — at a maximum — five days away. The "Brew Ski" tie, for example, sports rows of tiny beers on skis. Other tie motifs include college and pro sports teams, palm trees with sailboats, guitars, mermaids, wine bottles (with openers and glasses) and Vineyard Vines' signature whale icon.

But aside from neckties and bow ties, the Vineyard Vines store includes all things prepster, and the entire family is covered. Darling little ties and bow ties, dresses, jackets, shirts and sweaters offer a more colorful alternative to Brooks Brothers for little boys and girls, while their older counterparts have a much larger selection of both dress-up and Northeastern Nantucket-esque casual wear.

At the official wine-and-hors d'oeuvre opening on Market Street Wednesday night, founders Shep and Ian, as laid-back as their story suggests, happily chatted up children, conversed about their own families, gamely posed outside in front of the pink whale logo-come-to-life, and answered customers' questions (cufflinks have done well in the past and may hit stores in December; holiday ties will be in next week).

The intent to sell the "the good life" in iconography with clothing is what generates the ambiance of Vineyard Vines. If you’ve been looking for a bright green pair of corduroys with tiny whales all over them — or something similar to wear to golf or a lawn party during our milder weather seasons — then this is your shop.