Trés Trey

For clothier Trey Kraus, well dressed means a trim suit, a well-knotted tie and, sometimes, a maladjusted rabbit.

Photograph by Luigi CiuffetelliAnyone who’s visited Rehoboth Beach since 1960 knows Carltons.

For decades wandering tourists and discriminating clothes fiends have shopped at the landmark store on Rehoboth Avenue.

So it’s a wonder it took owner Trey Kraus so long to arrive. “I was on an unlikely career path,” Kraus says. “I was pre-med, a biology major, and I worked through school part time in retail.”

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Immediately drawn to the people, the heady excitement of networking, and the sheer love he saw people had for clothes, Kraus decided to pursue a career in fashion.

“Right out of college I wanted to purchase a small store,” he says. “But a friend in New York suggested I come there to build credibility.”

He started at a hand-made suit factory in Brooklyn, where his slick eye for color and contrast had him working on the cutting-room floor. Then he spent seven years at D.C.’s Britches of Georgetowne, working directly with the likes of Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan, in addition to designing exclusive private-label products. Then he moved back to New York, where he managed several men’s clothing lines.

In 2003 he and wife Marcia started trawling the East Coast for stores. They inked the deal on Carltons in May 2005. “It’s amazing how a beach lifestyle can influence you,” he says. “We’re much more colorful and able to get into levels of casual clothing that other specialty boutique stores can’t.”

Carltons carries resort couture like Tommy Bahama, Vineyard Vines and Lacoste, but clients can rely on the Krauses to sniff out fabulous, hard-to-find lines.

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“Last year, when we started selling Psycho Bunny, we were the only store within 200 miles that was selling it,” he says. “It was only at Barneys and Neimans. It was a great compliment to our reputation in the marketplace.”

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Inspired by throwbacks like Clark Gable and Fred Astaire, Kraus appreciates the art of dress. “When I need to dress, I dress,” he says. “To me that means a suit, and that means current. Wearing outdated clothes is a mistake.”

And above all, it must fit right.

“It should be expertly tailored, and that doesn’t always mean expensive,” he says. “Today everything is slimmer. The suit coat has evolved. When lapels go slimmer, a tie goes slimmer. And you can’t have a loose shirt billowing out of a slim jacket.”

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When it comes to details, Kraus is particular. “One of my biggest pet peeves is a sloppily knotted tie,” he says. “It’s such a small detail, but it makes all the difference.”

Speaking of things that make a difference, stellar customer service goes a long way, and it’s one thing that’s always in style.

“My driving force is a desire to service my clients,” he says. “From the littlest details to the biggest.”

Just don’t be surprised if he smartens your tie knot on your way out. It’s just his little way of saying he cares.

 

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