A memorial service will be held Sunday for S. Miller Harris, former head of Eagle Shirtmakers, who died in hospice care at his home in Spinnerstown, Pa., on June 9 after a brief illness. He was 91.
Although born into the men’s shirt business — his great-grandfather, Jacob Miller, started Eagle in 1867 — and known as an enthusiastic pursuer of the latest in piece goods and collar treatments, Harris had an intellectual bent and considerable writing skill. He was editor of the Cornell Daily Sun prior to his graduation from Cornell University and entry into the U.S. Army in 1943. His social circle at Cornell included author Kurt Vonnegut.
Pressed to reconcile his dual affections for the written word and the cut-and-sewn shirt, he once told a Daily News Record reporter, “I’m not a frustrated writer. I’m a fulfilled shirtmaker.”
Harris’ 70-year marriage to the former Mary Louise Snellenburg was an outgrowth of a buyer-seller relationship. Harris’ family sold shirts to Snellenburg’s, a department store fixture on Market Street in Philadelphia prior to its closure in 1962.
Although Eagle was sold to Hat Corp. of America and later Damon Creations and Palm Beach Clothing, Harris stayed on as its chief executive officer and gained a reputation as among the more innovative merchandisers in the men’s furnishings market. Working with high-profile merchants including Henry Grethel, Barry Boonshaft and Alan Flusser, Eagle was influential in a business dominated by “The Big Three” — Arrow, Van Heusen and Manhattan. It pioneered designer licensing in the market with its long-term relationship with Pierre Cardin and fitted shirts through its Courage collection. Reflecting Harris’ sense of humor, Courage was advertised by ad guru Howard Luck Gossage as a shirt most men didn’t “have the stomach for.”
Today, the Eagle brand is owned by PVH Corp.
Describing Harris as “a man with a great sense of style and a great sense of humor,” Grethel recalled his seemingly endless quest for new fabric ideas and the difficulty he had passing up a good-looking swatch. “He loved fabric, sometimes to his detriment,” Grethel said. “He had someone at the company whose main job was selling off excess piece goods. He looked at every European line known to man.”
His affection for the shirt business was a constant in his life and he was involved in several ventures after leaving Eagle, including associations with Smart Shirts and Viyella. According to his son, S. Miller Harris Jr., known as Mickey, he launched a new business under his great-grandfather’s name, Jacob Miller Shirts, at the age of 90 and was still active in it until the recent decline in his health.
In addition to his widow, Mary Louise, and son, he is survived by three daughters, Jill Harris, Susan Laun and Prue Gershman; 10 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at the Flourtown, Pa., home of his son at 2 p.m. on Sunday. In keeping with the deceased’s wishes, interment will be private. The family has requested that contributions in his memory be made to Cornell University’s Class of 1943 Scholarship Fund.bv.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty