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