Upscale retailers seeking an authentic American luxury clothing brand don’t want to miss the newly reinvented Hickey Freeman collection, housed in a renovated 57th Street penthouse complete with antique copper crest from the original Hickey Freeman factory (painstakingly refurbished by Jonathan Chanduvi, a young metal restorer whose artwork decorates the Hickey Freeman showroom), an incredible library, and the most fabulous bar in Manhattan (stocked with a curated collection of authentic American micro-brews and artisanal spirits!).
But it’s the clothing that takes center stage, familiar but modernized in the finest Italian fabrics, lightest weight canvases and hand-crafted luxury details (hand-turned collars, working buttonholes, horn buttons, etc). Suit models include updated versions of Hickey’s most popular styles and (our favorite) an updated Heritage model with a softer somewhat sloped shoulder, slightly shorter coat length, less boxy body and an overall young sexy look. Best of all, retails for a full canvas Hickey Freeman suit range from $1,495-$1,995 (vs. $3,000 for many luxury Italian brands); most sportcoats are $1,000-$1,500 (although we fell in love with a beautiful blue cashmere knit at $2,500!) There’s also a hand-made bespoke collection (opening with super 180s) at $1,895-$2,995.
Since buying the company in October 2013, Grano Retail Holdings has invested in much consumer research and marketing (with the help of Toth + Co), but mostly in the product. “We didn’t even ask prices when we shopped the mills,” says Arnold Brant Silverstone, president and chief creative director of Grano Luxury Men’s Apparel Group, which includes Samuelsohn and a pending acquisition that should be announced soon. “We just went for the most beautiful fabrics we could find.”
Can Grano pull off what Hartmarx and HMX failed to accomplish: reestablishing Hickey Freeman (established in 1899 and worn by luminaries from U.S. presidents to the Rat Pack) as the American-made luxury suit brand? We believe they’ve got a good shot at it, for three reasons: 1) So many Italian suit makers have reached and surpassed $3,000 tickets, are selling direct to consumers, and are concentrating on markets in Asia, Russia and the Mideast, thus paying less attention to American retailers. 2) The Hickey Freeman factory in Rochester has been recently modernized and is known to be highly efficient, while retaining the capacity for handwork. And 3) Arnie Silverstone is a third-generation clothing maven who lives and breathes the suit business, genuinely cares about the 500 jobs (and families) that have been saved in Rochester, NY, and has managed to double the size of Montreal-based Samuelsohn (without outlets or off-price) in just three years. For these reasons and more, we’re betting on them!