A version of this story originally appeared in the Rambling Reporter column of the Sept. 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter.
Charlie Ebersol – co-founder of The Hochberg Ebersol Co. and 2012 inductee to THR’s Reality TV 50 Most Powerful List – is known around town as quite the dandy, favoring Gatsby-esque gear, notably his custom knickerbockers, or knee-length pants. The producer, son of Dick Ebersol, says he received thousands of e-mails after an appearance in December on Morning Joe while promoting an NFL documentary he produced.
Mid-interview, co-host Willie Geist appreciately said, “What is up with those pants?!” In March, he rocked a tuxedo-style pair to Ryan Kavanaugh’s Oscar party.
“He was like, ‘Where do I get a pair?’” says Ebersol. Inspired by the interest, the producer – whose The Great Escape wrapped on TNT and whose The Moment will premiere in the winter on USA – is launching his own slim-cut label, Teddy Bright Stitches, which he plans to debut in early 2013. (A separate line of tailored dress shirts will be released under the same brand name, with an initial trunk show slated for November.)
The company is named after his younger brother Teddy, who was killed in a charter plane crash in Colorado in 2004. Ebersol was also onboard at the time. “I broke my back in that crash,” he says. “I can’t golf now and I wear knickers all the time. I know: the irony of that is rich.”
Indeed, Ebersol is the first with the wry wink, or the outright joke, when it comes to wearing what some might dismiss as the second coming of new-millennium men’s Capri pants. (That is, if a former John Varvatos tailor didn’t expertly shape them based on a traditional Dockers cut, as is the case with the Teddy Bright line.) “People think I’m doing it for the attention or to be absurdist,” he says. “And, obviously, I’m wearing knickers at least a little bit to laugh at myself. But… don’t they look good?!”
He’s already parried with early critics, including such professional acquaintances as Alex Rodriguez and Kurt Warner, who have occasionally kidded him about his distinctive look. “I’ve told them, ‘It’s no different than what you wear on the field. Only it’s not Spandex!’” His are made of a heavy chino material.
Ebersol has been taken with knickers ever since he was a preppy East Coast kid buying vividly hued knee-high socks at Brooks Brothers and wondering why he had to cover up so much “wasted real estate” with full-length trousers. “Why not show it off?” he says.
So far, athletes and entertainers have shown the keenest early-adopter interest. This doesn’t surprise Ebersol, who notes that, sartorially speaking, the wearing of an out-of-time and out-of-place artifact like knickers requires a rather serious level of confidence: “It’s definitely a commitment.”