Appeared In
Special Issue
Men'sWeek issue 12/06/2012

Samuelsohn is planning to celebrate its 90th birthday in style.

This story first appeared in the December 6, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

In honor of next year’s milestone anniversary, the Canadian men’s wear manufacturer has created a super-high-end line called 1923 Black Label that will debut for spring.

Designed by Arnold Brant Silverstone, the company’s president of marketing, sales and design, Black Label will feature luxury fabrics and hand-crafted details and will be priced about 50 percent higher than Samuelsohn’s core line.

“The 1923 Black Label collection adds a new dimension to the Samuelsohn brand,” said Silverstone. “With it, we are able to remove all limitations and focus solely on using the very best fabrications and tailoring to craft a line that sets a new standard in luxury men’s wear.”

Silverstone, whose family has a four-generation history in men’s wear manufacturing in Canada, founded the Arnold Brant label in 1997. It was sold to Oxford Industries Inc. in 2005 and he stayed on as president for two years before joining Nordstrom Inc. as design director of the company’s private-label program. He moved on to Samuelsohn in 2010, shortly after the Montreal-based brand was acquired by Grano Retail Investments.

“It takes six-and-a-half hours to make a regular Samuelsohn jacket,” he said. “In Black Label, there’s an additional hour of hand tailoring. We’re offering the best make and trim, the best buttons, silk linings, split waistbands, hand-turned collars, and fabrics that are one step better [than the core Ivory collection.] We’re going back to the heritage of tailoring.”

Black Label will retail for $1,795 to $2,495, while the core Samuelsohn collection opens at $1,095 and goes up to $1,595.

The brand will also offer a made-to-measure component with even more luxurious fabrics. “Our fastest growing area is made-to-measure,” Silverstone said. “We’ve experienced 50 percent growth in it. So we’re launching the Black Book for spring. It’ll be leather bound and embossed with the number 1923.”

He said Samuelsohn’s regular custom box offers 500 fabrics, but Black Book will have 60 pieces and will include Columbo super 200s; fabrics from Loro Piana’s Zenith Collection, including baby cashmere and super 210s; Zegna 200s, and worsted spun silks. Prices will start at $1,995 and go up to $6,995. “That’s still half the price of an Italian garment,” Silverstone said. The Samuelsohn Ivory made-to-measure offering is $1,295 to $1,995.

Both the off-the-rack and custom Black Label offerings will launch in 20 specialty stores for spring and 10 additional units for fall. Harry Rosen in Canada will be a key account, Silverstone said.

He said Samuelsohn plans to continue to produce Black Label beyond its birthday year of 2013. “We’ve had a lot of call for it.”

The company is planning to throw itself a party next summer to celebrate the anniversary in both the U.S. and Canada. America currently accounts for two-thirds of the company’s volume while the remaining one-third comes from Canada.

Samuelsohn was founded in 1923 by Lesser Samuelsohn, a clothing designer who prided himself on fine tailoring. The collection is produced in Montreal and features fabrics from Italy and England and full basted canvas construction. It has 250 accounts including Paul Stuart in New York as well as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Silverstone said the company’s business with Nordstrom has risen 50 percent over the past two years, a fact that he attributes to the company’s affordable luxury price point: “We give good value and that’s what’s going to win at the end of the day.”

He said 2012 will be the company’s “biggest year in 89 years,” with double-digit growth expected. Projections for 2013 are for a 20 percent increase over that. He said made-to-measure business is up 28 percent and now accounts for one-third of sales. Looking ahead, Silverstone expects the company to add custom shirts as well in the near future.

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