Great nyc men's shops of the past

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by arvi, Oct 7, 2004.

  1. Shirtmaven

    Shirtmaven Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    the custom shop saga is quite an interesting one.
    Alex Kabbaz also knows quite a bit. Levitt had a partner in the begining name Mr. Denhof. He was the one with the cutting system. It was essentially stack and trim.
    The old custom shop did not know how to deal with the casual work palce. to them a dress down shirt had all of the same details except for a sport shirt button.

    There were several groups involved that ran the business into the ground. went chapter 11. a new group came in and eventually went chapter 7.
    a fellow in Ohio owns the name. they no longer own their own facilities.

    custom shop made an awful shirt. but, they had so many stores so that they had plenty of customers.

    Carl
     


  2. torotoro

    torotoro Well-Known Member

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    The Blye Shop on 5th and 51st had the most gorgeous double ply alpaca sweaters and silk shirts on earth. This was back in the 60s. Also from the 60s was Leighton's on 7th and 46th. Another nice shop in Brooklyn was Ritchfield's on Flatbush off of Church Ave.
     


  3. Shirtmaven

    Shirtmaven Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I remember leightons being on broadway in the 50's
     


  4. torotoro

    torotoro Well-Known Member

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    perhaps it was in fact Broadway as they cross right around there but I'm pretty sure it was 46th.
     


  5. Mark Seitelman

    Mark Seitelman Senior member

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    I believe that Leighton's was on or near 46th St. The clothes had a sharp look. Sanmy Davis, Jr., was a customer.

    Steve from Leighton's opened DeLisi. Unfortunately, he closed it a couple of years ago. Such is the fate of a small, independent clothier in view the casual cancer. The DeLisi store is still vacant. It is next to the St. Regis Hotel.

    DeLisi handled primarily Brioni and other Italian brands. DeLisi was an early and strong vendor of Brioni, and when Brioni switched from hand padded collars/lapels to machine sewing, DeLisi was able to demand continued delivery of hand sewn collars/lapels.

    DeLisi was known as clothier to the "wise guy" set. The look was sharp. I heard that John Gotti used to have one of his "assistants" pick-up tons of Brioni clothes at DeLisi and that Gotti had them altered by an outside tailor.
     


  6. VMan

    VMan Senior member

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    Some of our historians, such as Shirtmaven, may have the dates, but I believe that the Custom Shops went out of business about 10 years ago. (After my initial post Will indicated that the chain closed in 2001.)

    The company's founder, Mortimer Levitt sold the company. He wrote a few entertaining books on founding the business and clothing. He died about 1 year ago and was very charitable to the arts. He was 97! (Does good clothing help longevity?) His last book was entitled "Ninety-Six and Too Busy to Die: A Life Beyond the Age of Dying."

    The new owners ran The Custom Shop into the ground, and it went bankrupt. I heard that no one was interested in buying it and running it in the form that we knew. However, I heard or read that the name "The Custom Shop" was sold and is being used in some manner. In any event, the familar, wood pannelled stores no longer exist.

    One of the Custom Shop executives was caught by surprise in the bankruptcy. He re-grouped, contacted his customers, and formed a new company, J. Lucas. He was covered in the Wall Street Journal. Essentially, J. Lucas is a shop at office/home company like Tom James, and it occassionally does a trunk show.

    As far as the old Custom Shops are concerned, they no longer exist in NYC. There were probably five or more stores around the city. One was next door to me at 115 Broadway. It's now a Starbucks.

    Sic transit gloria!


    I have a couple nice-looking vintage ties that I picked up from The Custom Shop.

    As many of you know I spend a lot of time visiting thrift shops in various areas, so I come across many items from long-gone men's shops - from the turn of the century to the 1990s. Very interesting to consider the history of the items I come across.
     


  7. rnoldh

    rnoldh Senior member

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    My Uncle, Henry Workman worked at NYC clothiers for 30 years, from about 1950-1980.

    He usually worked at mid level stores and not the finer shops.

    I think he started at Ripleys Menwear on Stanton St. in the city about 1950.

    He then managed a Ripley store in Brooklyn, in what is now Bed-Stuy or East New York, but it wasn't a bad area in the 1950s.

    Then he came back to the city to work in a shop called Bentons or Bensons. I think they had 2 locations. One on 7th Ave., and the other in midtown at about 34th St.

    Anyone remember Ripleys or Bentons (Bensons)?
     


  8. LabelKing

    LabelKing Senior member

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    The Custom Shop--didn't it have a presence in San Francisco near or on Market?
     


  9. Will

    Will Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    The Custom Shop--didn't it have a presence in San Francisco near or on Market?

    Still does, or rather it's one of the half dozen stores owned by the people who bought the ruin of the original company. Been by many times but never crossed the threshold.
     


  10. Mark Seitelman

    Mark Seitelman Senior member

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    Here's a name from the past:

    Kolmer Marcus in the garment district on Broadway.

    I recall passing it in a car with my father a number of times, and he told me that it was an excellent store. It had a big, corner frontage.

    The garment district had other excellent mens stores. Mortimer Levitt in his books said that when he opened his first Custom Shop it was in a tiny store on Broadway in the garment district because that area had very well dressed and clothes conscious businessmen who would provide a ready customer base for custom shirts.

    Anyone recall any other stores in the garment district?

    Does anyone recall a custom tailor called Mr. Tony in the garment district? A deceased friend, an older gentleman, used to buy his suits at Mr. Tony and his shirts at the Custom Shop.

    Ironically, with the exception of a very few (such as Oscar De La Renta and executives at some of the garment firms), the men in the garment center are as poorly dressed as the general population. A friend has a job at a manufacturer, and he stands out as an oddball in his bespoke sportscoats and shoes.
     


  11. aportnoy

    aportnoy Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Did anyone mention Burton's yet? Got the best khakis I've ever had there.
     


  12. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt The Liberator Dubiously Honored

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    Incidentally, on my many visits to L.A. I noticed much of the same thing, i.e., the concentration of traditional clothiers in the central district and the extinction of qualtiy clothiers in the outlying areas. The luxury clothiers and bespoke makers are concentrated in Beverly Hills. The few people who dress are concentrated in Beverly Hills, Westwood, West Hollywood, etc. The San Fernando Valley is a great bedroom community with its wealthy sections and is similar to Brooklyn and Queens. Similarly, clothing is a very casual and dressed-down affair in the Valley.
    While that is true now, most of the high end specialty mens stores opened in the last 15 or so drew directly from the great Studio City (and previously Tarzana) shop named Ron Ross. I remember that it was very badly damaged in the '94 quake and then re-opened to have a massive sale to get rid of all of it's merchandise. I guess the owner had had enough. I bought many of my first good suits and sportcoats at that sale. It was, before 1994, the best men's store in LA that was not based in the "American" style. Scott Hill was one of the men's buyers, as was the man who went onto run Scott Hill after Scott left. Also the people from Oliver and Vestiti were Scott Hill guys. Scott now has Scott and Co. Now that I think of it, it was also right next door to Bistro Garden which was the valley outpost of The Bistro in Beverly hills, a famous old restaurant which for years inhabited the location of the current Spago. It was a very nice little oasis in the middle of the very odd San Fernando Valley.
     


  13. LabelKing

    LabelKing Senior member

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  14. tonylumpkin

    tonylumpkin Senior member

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    Tripler, the old Abercrombie and Fitch (pre-Bruce Weber), Sulka...

    Twice this week, while thrifting, I've come across Tripler items (F.W. Tripler, I think) and wasn't sure what to make of them. Seemed decent. One was Navy blazer, the other a shirt. Both carried only the Tripler label. Do you know who made their store branded items?
     


  15. torotoro

    torotoro Well-Known Member

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    I remember leightons being on broadway in the 50's

    perhaps you're thinking of Kronfeld's? I think it was on 52nd, but also on 7th.
     


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