Samuelsohn Races Ahead
Harry Rosen has a close association with many of the world’s great design houses. Perhaps one of the deepest relationships of all is with Samuelsohn. The Montreal-based company started working with Harry Rosen in the early 1960s and you could say they grew up together – two great Canadian success stories. Today, those ties are stronger than ever as Samuelsohn undergoes a complete transformation, forging an updated international identity built on the melding of performance and luxury across its entire line. This spring, the new direction will be visible at Harry Rosen stores, at the menswear shows in New York and on the players of the LA Galaxy soccer team – the first time Samuelsohn has partnered with a sports franchise.
How do you inject a performance oriented ethos into high-end menswear without jeopardizing luxurious comfort and impeccable fit? With new Super 150 fabrics for suits that naturally repel water and stains yet retain the drape and hand one expects from fine wool. With a new line of Italian-made sportswear with similar capabilities. And with more than a dozen subtle and not-so-subtle embellishments to style and function for all of the brand’s tailored garments.
This is in no way a parting with tradition, says CEO Stephen Granovsky, who purchased the company in 2010 through his Luxury Men’s Apparel Group. He was drawn to the reputation for quality and craftsmanship that Samuelsohn had built with its tremendously loyal customers, as was the man he brought on board as creative director – renowned fashion designer Arnold Silverstone. Together, they set about updating the style and image, and quickly doubled the business. Now they are ready to move to the next level.
Meticulous craftsmanship will remain the backbone of the label. Seven hours of handwork go into every full-canvas garment, along with Bemberg linings and cloth sourced from the finest European mills. This will not change. “But we’re bringing back the heart,” Granovsky says. The company’s slogan – “We sew a little heart into every garment” – used to appear in cursive script on tags.
“Customers told us they missed it,” says Silverstone, “so we decided to give it a modern approach. Starting this spring, we’re sewing an actual heart under the collar of every jacket.” A subtle gesture, but one with unique charm.
“It’s our emblem,” says Granovsky. “It goes back to the heart of the company.”
Other changes are more overt. For example, Samuelsohn has teamed up with Italian mill Columbo to develop a natural process that imparts water and stain resistance to Super 150s by heating and cooling the fabric to extreme temperatures. They call it Ice Wool. There are no chemical coatings, no detrimental side effects. Drape and feel are unaffected and the performance does not deteriorate with time. (This technique will also be applied to sportswear in cotton and cashmere.) Inside the jackets, new lining technology wicks away moisture. “It’s the first time this has been done with a Bemberg lining,” Granovsky says. “But we’re not being gimmicky about this. These are features that actually deliver legitimate substantial benefits to the consumer.”
Samuelsohn turns 94 this year but the company certainly isn’t showing its age, instead surging ahead while the rest of the world tries to catch up.