Buy One, Get Six Free!

Those of you who know Saint Laurie well, would expect nothing less of us than to beat the competition at its own game. After seeing the promotion for Jos. A Bank clothiers on “Saturday Night Live,” I decided that enough was enough! In case you didn’t see their “commercial” click to view the video or click the image below:

hulu-saint-laurie

Not to be outdone by an inferior product, we’re going to double their offer! Buy one suit and get six free! But, you ask, how can we possibly do this (and stay in business)?

It’s easy!

1. Lower my staff’s wages.
I’ve asked them all, in the spirit of teamwork, to take one hour’s pay for six hours of work. (If you’re thinking that you’ll get only one stitch from them where you might expect six, don’t worry, I’ll be watching them like a hawk!)

Here is an early prototype using this innovative new fabric

2. Gowanus Cloth™
Building on the newfound passion for local manufacturing (Have you tried Brooklyn Gin?) and a grant from Mayor de Blasio’s new Department of Communal Gentrification, artisanal weaving comes to the banks of the Gowanus Canal. We’ll be giving the unemployed a chance for a new life by paying them to gather pet hair from the hordes of molting Park Slope cats and dogs. Gowanus Cloth™ combines the best of recycling and craftsmanship. (Only those with facial hair, wearing fedoras ironically need apply.)

While not exactly Super 100’s—the International Wool Bureau actually classifies Gowanus Cloth™ as Super 3’s— the fabric is finished with “water” pumped from the Canal imparting a unique lubricant that makes it virtually wrinkle free!

This “Buy One, Get Six Free” offer expires March 31. So hurry in to Saint Laurie!

Happy April Fool’s Day!

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Big Stars Aren’t Always Human: Dressing The Muppets

During our century in business, we’ve made clothing for clients with some unusual shapes, but none as different as the Muppets, those beloved furry creatures, many of whom wear our clothing in the film “Muppets Most Wanted” You might wonder why the producers would come to an old-school tailoring concern such as ours instead of a costume shop. Truth is, authentic human clothing is essential to the Muppets’ identity. The creative team do not want them wearing dolls’ clothing. For the Muppet suits we used all the canvases, felts, horsehairs and pads found in our regular custom jackets, trousers and shirts.

 

Here’s the suit we made for Walter. Notice the third “leg” in the middle which is for the puppeteer’s arm.

Here’s the concept sketch for Miss Piggy’s jacket and the finished jacket as it appears in the film.

This is a shirt we made for Dr. Teeth, keyboardist in the Muppets’ band, Electric Mayhem.

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The Special Challenges of Dressing a Maestro

Conductor Alan Gilbert, music director of The NY Philharmonic with yours truly and our head tailor, Umberto Bove.

Saint Laurie was honored to outfit Alan Gilbert, conductor of The New York Philharmonic, with a new set of tails, formal shirts, grosgrain cummerbund and bow tie. The maestro wore this ensemble for the orchestra’s recent tour of Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

If you’re interested in our processes, here was the challenge: When he is conducting, Mr. Gilbert is constantly in motion. His activity plus the glare of the spotlights can cause him to overheat. He needs to look historically correct and glamorous without an overly heavy cloth. He also needs to have a full range of motion without looking like he is wearing an elastic suit. Before coming to Saint Laurie, several world-famous tailors in Italy and France had failed to fully accomplish these goals.

So how did we do it?

1. First we chose a uniquely resilient English cloth in a traditional barathea weave. Baratheas are woven specifically for formal wear with a full body and a matte finish. However, the cloth we selected is woven from Escorial wool as opposed to Merino wool. The Escorial sheep is very small, with a hair that is extremely fine and uniquely crimped. These sheep number in just the hundreds and are found only in New Zealand.

2. To give Mr. Gilbert the freedom of movement he needed, we cut the arm holes higher into the armpit than we’d ever set a sleeve before. This kept the shoulder in place whenever Mr. Gilbert moved his arms.

3. We pitched the sleeve very far forward which is the position Mr. Gilbert is in when he is conducting.

4. We cut the trousers high and the coat front relatively short to create a perfect “Fred Astaire” balance.

5. Key to this complex project was Mr. Gilbert himself. He was extremely gracious with his time, returning for numerous fittings. Some successful people fail to recognize that their time, more than their money, is necessary for achieving a proper fit.

Of course, we are very proud to know that thousands of concertgoers in New York and around the world will see our work. It is even more of a thrill that such a talented artist put his trust in our artistry.

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Dressing a 19th Century Railroad Baron

The new season of “Hell on Wheels” is underway on AMC and Saint Laurie had the privilege of dressing Colm Meaney, one of the stars of the show. Although he may be better known for his performances in the “Star Trek” franchise, in “Hell on Wheels” Mr. Meany shines in the role of Doc Durant, a sly businessman who hopes to benefit from the connecting of the two coasts by railroad in the post–Civil War era. At right is a photo of Mr. Meaney in his circa-1867 frock suit completely built by Saint Laurie.

As you may know, my wife is from Aberdeen, South Dakota which owes its existence to the building of the transcontinental railroad, so “Hell on Wheels” is a favorite in our household. Have you ever seen it?

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Murray Kozinn 1914-2011

On September 2, 2011, my father, Murray Kozinn, who was President of Saint Laurie from 1950 to 1983, died peacefully at the age of 97 in his home in Aventura, Florida.  

Certainly, my Dad made important contributions to the men’s clothing industry. But, his real legacy lies in his incredible resiliency in the face of adversity.   There was no challenge which overwhelmed him, no set back which was insurmountable.   I still am not sure about the source of his eternal optimism.  I suspect it had spiritual origins, but he would have been embarrassed to admit it.

Murray was only 15 1/2 years old when his father, Sam, required him to join the business which Sam had founded in 1913.  It was 1929 and the stock market had just crashed a few months before. 

To say the least, Murray was not thrilled about going into business at such a young age.  Unlike his father, his primary language was English, not Yiddish or Polish, and he relished the American schooling he was receiving.  So he continued his education at night, attending Brooklyn College and eventually receiving a degree in law from Brooklyn Law School in 1938. 

(Coincidentally, my father and I both had the same professor for evidence—Jerome Prince.  My Dad had him during his first year of teaching and I had him during his last year when I attended Brooklyn Law School in the 1970’s.  I also carried on the family tradition of being unprepared when Professor Prince called on me to recite!) 

The Great Depression would inform my Dad for the rest of his life as it would for his entire generation.  Most importantly, the Depression taught my Dad the importance of proper financial management.  Throughout its long history and all its ups and downs, Saint Laure’s credit remained strong and all its obligations were always met in a timely fashion. No matter how good our product has been or how well we treated our clients, proper financial management has sustained the business for almost 100 years. 

My Dad never practiced law.  (Nor have I.)  But, it did make him a better businessperson.  During the Second World War he kept our factory busy with government contracts to make officers’ uniforms for the Army.  (He was 4F due to a childhood accident that left him deaf in one ear.)

When the war ended, he was one of the champions of the “Ivy League Look.”  This soft shouldered, humble silhouette was a dramatic shift from the wide shouldered macho look of the 1940’s.  It soon became the trademark of a college-educated man.

In 1957, my Dad made a fateful trip to India to visit the textile mills there.  He fell in love with Madras, the hand-made cotton cloth in plaid patterns that was a mainstay of Indian fashion during the hottest months.  There was an explosion of orders when he introduced Madras to the US market upon his return.  At left is one of our ads from that period.

Our business during those years was primarily as a wholesaler to specialty stores around the country.  And a major part of that business was servicing the stores in college towns that catered to students who wore sport coats around campus.  In the early 60’s my Dad introduced hand-woven Harris tweeds to those stores and the reaction was also sensational.  The picture below shows my Dad (second from the right) on the Wendy Barrie radio show in 1963 engaged in a lively discussion about men's fashion.

All this changed with the social revolution of the late 1960’s.  College students leading protest marches wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a tweed jacket.  Styles started changing on what seemed like a weekly basis.  Wide lapels replaced narrow lapels, Edwardian looks became the rage, particularly if the jacket was made from velvet.  Nehrus, leisure suits, and polyester double knits soon followed.  Our conservative industry, where fashion evolved at a snail’s pace, was in revolution.  Surprisingly (at least to those who didn’t know him well) my Dad welcomed these developments. He explored St. Tropez and Carnaby Street to incorporate into the Saint Laurie collections the flavor of those venues in which cutting edge styles thrived. 

These fashion changes plus the recessions of 1974-75 decimated the independent men’s retail shops who were our customers.  In order to keep our workrooms active, my Dad and I took the company in a unique direction—we would sell direct to the public, both ready-made and custom-made clothing.  It proved to be the right move because we were committed to keep manufacturing in New York.  We are now the oldest maker of men’s clothing still producing in the city. 

I learned a great deal from my Dad besides the importance of proper accounting.  He believed that our clients were the best forecasters of fashion trends if you just asked them the right questions.  He also taught me the intricacies of fabric design including yarn size, spinning, fiber quality, weaving and finishing.  And, he taught me to prepare for the tough times when times are good. 

His wisdom will continue to guide Saint Laurie for many years to come.

Andy Kozinn
President
Saint Laurie Merchant Tailors
22 West 32nd Street, 5th Floor
New York NY 10001
212.643.1916
Saint Laurie on YouTube
www.saintlaurie.com

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Saint Laurie Merchant Tailors
22 West 32 Street, 5th floor
New York, NY 10001
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[email protected] or 212.643.1916
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