This year, Davelle Clothiers celebrates our twentieth year in business, a milestone of which I am especially proud. As I was readying the store for our Best of America Special Event, I began to think about the history of the two American brands that we’re featuring at our April 16th event, Hickey Freeman and Allen Edmonds. Here are their interesting stories.
Hickey Freeman: The temple to fine tailoring
That’s what everyone calls the Hickey Freeman factory: the Temple to Fine Tailoring. Two young entrepreneurs named Jacob Freeman and Jeremiah Hickey built it in the early years of the 20th century. Their plan was to bring high-quality hand-tailoring to men from coast to coast. As they envisioned it, a Hickey Freeman suit would be a testament to both the delicate artistry of hand-craftsmanship and the steady consistency of modern technology.
Their idea turned into an epic American success story. Men of style and achievement have, for generation after generation, turned to Hickey Freeman for authenticity and quality, elegance and innovation. They still do.
The Temple — a 77,000-square-foot factory in Rochester, New York — is where it all happens. Tailors from around the world gather in Rochester’s sartorial sanctuary to set sleeves and stitch collars and roll lapels. Each tailor has a different specialty, but they all share a common goal: to create suits that represent the very pinnacle of American tailoring.
For decades, anyone who stepped into the Temple saw the phrase “Keep the Quality Up” carved into the oak entryway. “Keep the Quality Up” was the Hickey Freeman motto — and its mission statement. It still is; which is why Davelle is proud to offer clothing from this American style legend.
Allen Edmonds: The shoes that put Belgium, Wisconsin on the map
Established in 1922, Allen Edmonds is another American apparel company with a rich heritage. Throughout the Great Depression, as countless companies closed their doors, this shoe maker kept its doors open. Allen Edmonds worked even harder to reach customers who cared about quality, sending his sales team on the road with mobile showroom.
During the forties Elbert’s sons Boyd and Ralph became employed by the company, and in 1949, Elbert “Bert”, Allen Jr. took over as president. After World War II ended and the professional workforce expanded, more men needed the right dress shoes for the job. Allen Edmonds shoes fit the bill, becoming known as the gold standard for the young executive.
In the years to come, many American shoe manufacturers went out of business as cheaper imports flooded the market from overseas. The management team at Allen Edmonds stayed the course by keeping true to the company’s core values and superior craftsmanship, handcrafting their shoes from their Belgium, Wisconsin factory. Even after the company was sold in 1980 the Allen Edmonds brand stayed true to its commitment to style, quality and supreme comfort.
As new owner and CEO, John Stollenwork made good on his promise to make the brand known throughout the world. Today, Allen-Edmonds shoes are now worn by popes, U.S. presidents, movie stars and sports legends. And they’re still manufactured with care from their Wisconsin factory.
I hope you enjoyed today’s style history lesson. If you haven’t marked your calendar yet, be sure to schedule a visit to Davelle on April 16 between 11am and 6pm for this exciting event. We’ll have representatives from both Hickey Freeman and Allen Edmond to show their latest designs and provide us all with an invaluable education on style and fit. See you there!
David Eisele, Sr.