By and  on January 23, 2009

The tough economy has really hit home with President Barack Obama — literally affecting the clothes on his back.

Late Friday, the President’s favorite tailor, and one of the oldest and best-known names in men’s wear, Hartmarx Corp., filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy court protection.

Founded in 1872, the apparel firm and 50 affiliates filed in a Chicago bankruptcy court. The Chicago-based firm, whose Hart Schaffner Marx clothing label was President Obama’s brand of choice for his inauguration and campaign, has secured a $160 million debtor-in-possession credit facility from its pre-petition lenders, which include Wachovia Capital Finance Corp.

The company’s Canadian affiliate and other non-U.S. holdings have not sought bankruptcy protection.

Hartmarx said on Friday that it will continue to operate its business as management focuses on developing a restructuring plan, which “may include the sale of substantially all of its assets.”

“We believe that today’s filing and our DIP financing provide us with sufficient funding and allows us to operate our business currently as we pursue strategic alternatives,” said Homi Patel, chairman and chief executive officer, on Friday.

The Chapter 11 petition lists between 5,000 to 10,000 creditors, and assets and liabilities each at between $100 million and $500 million.

The top unsecured trade creditor is Wooyang Co., New York, at $2.8 million. Other unsecured creditors include U.S. Customs, owed $518,730 for duties; Amalgamated Cotton Garment & Allied Industrial Fund, New York, owed $341,736 for employee benefits; Perry Ellis International, Miami, owed $312,500 for royalties, and Nicklaus Marketing Inc., Miami, owed $300,000 for royalties.

Glenn Morgan, chief financial officer, said in a court affidavit that 75 percent of the company’s revenue is from its men’s apparel business, and 25 percent from women’s apparel. He said that two of its largest customers are Dillard’s Department Stores and Nordstrom’s, representing 22 percent and 13 percent of sales, respectively.

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