Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Esprit de Court 

How Susie Tompkins Buell built, wrecked, and sued San Francisco's legendary Esprit de Corp. clothing company, and why she still gets to sit next to President Clinton

Wednesday, Oct 8 1997

Page 8 of 8

"The floor was covered in sisal carpeting and small cafe tables with little chairs there and an oyster bar," says event designer Stanlee R. Gatti. "It was all burgundy. The center portion had an island with different levels to put liquor on. It had simple elements with a raised area where liquor goes, in a simple oval shape. They danced to the Count Basie Orchestra."

This is as it should be, Tompkins Buell says.
"You know, I really believe people should have fun in this world," she says, before drifting, in the same, uninterrupted sentence, into a lament about the opaque smog that recently formed over Indonesia as a result of forest fires. "I just think we don't know what we are doing to ourselves."

These ideas are part of the same basic, modern, clean, and comfortable Esprit garment. Lawsuits; Earth First!; leveraged buyouts; political fund-raising; copyrighted cakes and burgundy carpeting -- all might be summed up by one of Susie Tompkins Buell's more famous newspaper quotes:

"Social awareness is the lifestyle fashion."
Or, as she now says, a bit less obtusely, "It's a real inspiration to me to live up to that name: Esprit de Corp.

About The Author

Matt Smith


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"