Designs that Evoke Nantucket’s Seafaring Past

by Sanibel Chai

Nantucket WhalerWhen you enter Nantucket Whaler, you may be surprised to find that navy blue is scarce. Designer and owner Susan Turer is dedicated to crafting a store that speaks to the real Nantucket over a general image of Nantucket.

Rather than replicate styles and colors available at other island stores, Susan designed the collection with a very specific vision in mind. Her goal is to appeal just as much to yearround Nantucketers as the diverse summer crowd.

Nantucket WhalerSusan’s carefully designed collection has incorporated the feedback and suggestions of active sailors. Many of the shirts have three-quarter sleeves because they are designed for people doing work at sea or outdoors with their hands. They have locker loops for hanging because many ships do not have drawers and all vestments are hung. She speaks enthusiastically about a waxed canvas coat that is soon to arrive at the store. The coat was inspired by one similar that’s owned by the captain on the Tall Ship Lynx. The captain said he was stopped frequently on the streets of Nantucket by people who offered him up to $500 for the coat off his back. The popularity of an item that was not even for sale bodes well for the jacket that is about to be introduced at the Old South Wharf location.

Nantucket Whaler’s most popular item so far this summer has been the Grey Mariner shirt, which features grey and white stripes and a henley style collar (see home page). A perennial favorite is the New England Oxford: a unisex buttondown that features the Nantucket Whaler whale logo on the breast. The Oxford is available in blue and white. There is a selection of sweaters for men and women and a number of different hats. There is the cotton beanie, baseball caps with the Nantucket Whaler embroidered in quarterboard style, and the yellow bucket hat. The yellow bucket hat draws your eye immediately because it is the brightest item in the store. The Brass Mariner is the designer behind the brass and silver harpoon cuffs on display (for each cuff sold, $10 goes to Sailors for the Sea).

Nantucket WhalerAuthenticity is one of the most important facets of Nantucket Whaler and one that popular opinion has confirmed the store has delivered on. Susan humbly describes several instances wherein members of the local community (including a member of the Coffin family) have thanked her for crafting a line that is true to Nantucket’s heritage and honors its whaling background. Susan’s assistant, Kezia, is a fourth-generation Nantucketer and among her duties, she is responsible for overseeing the chalkboard which covers one entire wall of the Old South Wharf store. The right half of the chalkboard includes information for mariners, including tides, winds, fishing reports, lunar transit and is updated daily. Boaters stop by the store in the early morning to check out the day’s stats. The left half of the chalkboard is updated weekly and displays an ever changing potpourri of island information. Further adding to the sense of authenticity, available in store are The Arts of the Sailor and The Eldridge Tide Book, which seasoned sailors will recognize.

Nantucket WhalerNantucket Whaler is partnered with the Tall Ship Lynx, a fully staffed tall ship based in Nantucket. Sailors on the Lynx are featured in many of the photographs for the brand, and they design accessories such as key chains and jewelry that sell out very quickly at Nantucket Whaler. Their creations are primarily made from materials available onboard the Lynx such as tarred line (which sailors made themselves before synthetic materials were available). Sailors from the Lynx will be stationed on Old South Wharf in front of the store in coming weeks to teach knot tying to passerbys.

Nantucket WhalerEven if you haven’t been to the store, it is possible you have seen their designs out and about. Nantucket Whaler provides the uniforms for the Nantucket Boat Basin crew. The store is very keen on weaving itself into the fabric of the Nantucket community. Nantucket Whaler is committed to giving back locally and donates to the booster club of Nantucket High School to help support all student athletes.

Susan is looking forward to some new items about to be introduced, such as a ditty bag. Ditty bags were a marine resume where sailors would stitch the names of the ships they had worked on into the fabric. Nantucket Whaler may offer different ship patches that customers could add to their ditty bags which feature the Nantucket Whaler logo. White shrimp boots will make their debut at the store Nantucket Whalersoon and the popular marlin spike knives will be restocked. Authenticity is not the only theme that runs throughout the store. Susan takes responsibility very seriously as a business owner and island resident. You’ll find Pure Green 24, an eco-friendly disinfectant, for sale at the counter along with reusable water bottles. Susan is very well informed about sailing history and culture and a great conversationalist. Stop by her store, check out the chalkboard, and ask her about the collection.

Nantucket Whaler, 5 Old South Wharf • wearingwhales.com