Ethical Menswear by Martin Greenfield
Nathan and I have long admired Martin Greenfield, America's greatest living tailor. So when we saw a Gilt City deal for one of his made-to-measure suits, we seized the opportunity. Being made by hand in New York City, it aligns perfectly with my ethical fashion guidelines by supporting local craftsmanship and employment.
We arrived at Martin Greenfield Clothiers early Saturday morning. The factory occupies it's original location, straddling the boundary between East Williamsburg and Bushwick, and has withstood the many iterations of that neighborhood. Despite the stillness of the world outside, inside buzzed with all of the activity required for fittings; Nathan began the process by choosing his fabric and lining.
Martin Greenfield, a Holocaust survivor who lost his immediate family in World War II, moved to America in 1947 to live with relatives. His tailoring career began as floor boy at GGG Clothing, the same factory he owns today. After learning every facet of the business and working his way up, he bought the company in 1977 and renamed it Martin Greenfield Clothiers.
Nathan and I did not expect to see Martin that morning, and were doubly surprised by his intimate involvement in the process. He has made suits for presidents, diplomats, and everyone in between, and there he was on the floor taking the measurements of each and every client. Even after over sixty years in the business, Martin's passion is evident; I am so grateful that I was witness to his meticulous craftsmanship. As he took measurements, Martin noted the idiosyncrasies of Nathan's body and movements.
Over the next 5 weeks, the fabric will be touched by many hands in that Brooklyn factory. It will go through hundreds of processes in order to form a suit that will fit Nathan better than any other garment he has ever owned. The price (even with the Gilt City deal) is expensive, but that price includes the community, craft, and livelihoods contained within that venerable building. That price is not measured in dollars, but in lives touched, energy saved, and traditions preserved. That is a price I'm willing to pay.
Watch this eight minute video to learn even more about Martin Greenfield. It's a touching look at him and his legacy. Thanks to Martin and his staff for their attentiveness and for allowing me to photograph the process. The experience was unforgettable.
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