Don't have much in the way of detail, but I believe that they was some litigation initiated by Dunhill against Dunhill Tailors in the mid-80's, resulting in the end of DT's use of the "Dunhill" name (and subsequently, the end of their NYC store).
Very high prices, but good merchandise was had at reasonable prices during their periodic sales.
Dunhill was owned by the Block family. I did a quick internet search and found a reference to a law suit circa 1961 in which Alfred Dunhill sued Dunhill Tailors on some theory and clearly lost. I also saw a reference that they were ultimatley bought by Alfred Dunhill in the mid 80s, which makes sense, since the cigar people were opening clothing stores at that time.
What do you remember about the store? Did they have a substantial ready made line?
Dunhill Tailors no longer exists. It was on E. 57th Street close to the present Brioni store. The current tenant is Dana Buchman.
One of the Block brothers died a couple of years ago, and he had a good sized obituary in the Times.
Master salesman Jay Walter, formerly of Brooks Bros. MTM and now head of tailored clothing at Venanzi, worked at Dunhill in its last days. It was considered the top mens store in NYC, and he left a very comfortable position to work there. You can catch-up with Jay at the Manton book signing at Venanzi's.
I do have a particular reason for asking about the firm. I remember reading references to them in the NYTimes growing up. A couple of years ago I bought a summer sports jacket on Ebay, fully canvassed, double vents, and cut so perfectly that, although made over twenty years ago, it could have been designed yesterday. It was and is a timeless classic. the label read something like Dunhill Tailors, the Ready to Wear Department. Judging from the jacket alone, I have missed out on one of the legendary institutions of New York (I remember the long obit as well).
Dunhill was indeed one of New York's finest -- and most noted -- tailors. The firm opened in 1923 on lower Fifth Avenue and eventually moved to 65 East 57th Street as SoBB notes above. The business was indeed sold to Alfred Dunhill of London in the mid-1980s when Leon Block retired.
I was only in the Dunhill Tailors store once. I was working at Roger Laviale, a woolen merchant, and was asked to pull the outs from the swatch books. Of what I remember, it was a long narrow store. Somewhat dark. Dark wooden fixtures filled to the ceiling. The was a tailor shop in the basment that made a full custom tailored"bespoke" garment. Ralph Caprio owned a jacket shop on 12th and Broadway. He made some of Dunhill Tailors RTW But also MTM garments.
From what I was told by some of my customers, the Block brothers could sell. One fellow told me tht he went in for a couple of ties and ended up with a camel hair polo coat.
Nyc was filled with unpretenious single unit business that sold excellent USA made clothing. Stores like this are sorely missed.
While working in NYC during the mid-80's, I shopped at Dunhill Tailors a few times. Purchased several accessories; generally high quality (ex. their umbrella, which I still use, was branded as "Dunhill Tailors." It is re-branded Briggs). Typical carriage trade shop of the period with cordial, competent staff.
No experience with their bespoke goods, but if memory serves me, was a dark, clubby type of environment.
Sure miss stores of this nature, like the old Herzfeld store, F.R. Tripler, etc.
Get this: I'm a second year law school student in the fall of 1985, and I landed an extremely prestigious summer stint, so its time to start shopping. One day , I open up the WS Journal, and there is a tiny, tiny block ad that reads something like this: " former Dunhill tailor now in business on his own. Enjoy a custom experience starting at $450 a suit if you get 4." Turns out that you had to travel up to New Rochelle , the min order was four, the tailor was a bit prickly but I have those suits to this day. Btw, I had to beg , borrow, and hold up a gas station to get the 900 bucks he wanted ( and deserved) but that decision paid off. I cannot find him today--his name was Nino Ciaci. But what suits!
A wonderful store. In RTW they featured several models
which were basically a hybrid Saville Row/ Ivy League
look, eg. side vents but natural shoulders. I got a summer
suit there in the early 80s ...
very elegant and distinctive. I still have
some of their shirts which look stylish 20 years later. No one
has mentioned , but I recall that their furnishings department
was staffed by delicious young females, a apt counterpoint
to the otherwise clubby atmosphere. After their purchase
by Dunhill ( Tobacco,etc.) the Manhattan store still claimed
to have the MTM and Bespoke service of the original
Dunhill Tailors. Into the 90s this store did have try-ons
of the Dunhull Tailors models. This service was not available
in the San Francisco store.
Another wonderful men's shop a block or two down 57th St
was Andre Oliver . See My post earlier this year:
Andre Oliver operated a very elegant shop on 57th st,
near the original Dunhill Tailors in the 80s. He sold trim
low rise trousers with Frech pleats( inward-facing)
The dress shirts had wide spread collars and rivalled
T&A of the time in selection of pattern and color.
Most spectacular, were Andre Oliver's cable-stich cashmere
sweaters which came in any hue imaginable. All merchanise
was in conspicuously elegant taste.
I still have several of the slacks which await my loss of 10 lbs
( a project underway for longer than I want to admit)
Carl, there is a story here that has never been explored, these tailors who do fine jobs but because they are one-man operations, do not charge very much. You have always mentioned (without elaboration) Traguardo (actually Visalli Men's Couture 255 5th Ave ste 5 212-679-7215). But no one every describes these tailors' work. The way I see it, any mature industry is not just made up of the low end (MTM) and the high end (Raphael, Logsdail, etc) but has a full range of options. Those Dunhill tailors went somewhere....
When a shop closes, its tailors either land other jobs (which is quite easy for good tailors) or retire (because most tailors are older). Very few go out on their own, and very few have the skills to open their shop.
I seem to remember hearing that Bergdorf Goodman Men hired a number of the tailors from Dunhill. I don't know if this is fact or fiction â€¦ but I've heard it from more than one source.
Dunhill is a shop I recall with fondness. Prior to my first visit there, I remember telling a older well-dressed friend that I planned to stop by to pick up a couple of ties. He warned, "Be careful of the salesmen or you'll leave with more." I responded something along the lines of "High pressure?" He ended with, "No, you'll see what I mean."
I came home that day with half a dozen ties, four or five shirts, linen handkerchiefs, several pairs of socks and more. My salesman wasn't high pressure at all ... but he was sincerely exuberant about the stock. Ultimately the merchandise sold itself. Of course as I was only a young architectural intern at Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, I had little income and fretted for weeks about how I'd pay for everything.
I still have a few accessories from Dunhill Tailors ... mostly ties ... particularly rep ties in rather vivid colors.
And Andre Oliver â€¦ that's another place I remember â€¦ especially one display of shirts -- or was it sweaters -- displayed as a rainbow of colors. No matter, it always got my attention that season.
"I used to think myself Dorian Gray ... but lately, Dorian Graying seems more fitting." -- Scott