Johnny Carson: Hollywood Style

Ed McMahon, Johnny Carson

“I don’t think you can go too far out,” claims Johnny Carson, who has made yet another fortune from his Johnny Carson Apparel Inc.

The retail sale of clothes bearing his label will pass the $30,000,000 mark and he’s a major stockholder. An entire new building is going up to manufacture his lines.

“It’s worked out great—I think,” Carson agreed. “It’s also a great kick for me to see people wearing my clothes.” And he now maintains that his styles are not extreme; matter of fact, he thought they were too conservative a year back—and he was right.

“I don’t know how you can really predict.” But he does claim, contrary to some, that double knits would continue big. How did it all start? “They (Hart Schaffner & Marx) came to me. It’s been a nice deal,” he smiled. “I’m very involved. I do all the layouts with designer Gary Thorpe.”

On the upcoming spring line he’ll try to coordinate shirts, ties, jackets, pants, shoes into an entire package so a man can have professional advice in one deal. The suits of double knit, polyester, dacron will retail $110-115.

“Seasonal clothes are really disappearing,” says Califomian Carson. “It’s now all-year clothes. No one should have to own separate wardrobes with new fabrics.” Among them are the “fisherman knit” weave, by the way. His clothes are now seen in 1,500 outlets. As for Carson himself, he claims, “I don’t keep a giant wardrobe— I used to.”

Is he obligated to wear his own line?

“I am not—but I do because I like them. I don’t wear everything, but that’s only because I can’t—who can?” In the tuxedo line (After Six tieup), he predicts much velvet. He prefers the single-breasted and likes a wide lapel on stage. “I don’t like flamboyant tuxedos. I like black. I don’t like maroon or costume types. I like basically simple things—no lace sleeves.” His trousers have a slight flare. He insists on no rear pockets—”So I won’t look stuffed,” he laughs.

Carson likes clothes that are ready for anything, like a cheviot worsted suit. He prefers one in a light tan with window pane-on-twill pattern. This year it’s trimmed with a suede trim on the front yoke and on the round-cornered patch pockets. He’s also big on the tartan sport coats with soft shoulders, two-button waist, flapped pockets and angled center vent.

Carson is definitely a tie-man. He always wears ties to work. “Otherwise,” he claims, “you have a sloppy’ look. If you’re not wearing a tie it makes the show look like it’s not too important. I don’t like to work that casual.” He’s not worried about how he looks in the reruns. They’re rarely over a year old. Carson admits that people are influenced by what other people wear. “I used to think Nat King Cole was the sharpest dresser.” He now rates Myron Cohen as one of the best.