Affordable & American Made: Remembering Huntington Clothiers

As a follow-up to our last post on “Main Street” Ivy brands from the heyday, herein a reader reminisces on one from more recent times.

* * *

I’m hoping readers will enjoy a little bit of nostalgia via the Spring 1995 catalog from Huntington Clothiers, the last one I have. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, this is sadly another great men’s clothing store that has entered into the pages of fashion history.

Huntington was like an affordable version of J. Press whose prices were aligned with what Lands’ End charged back in the ’80s and early ’90s.

I first recall receiving the catalog in the early ’80s. It was love at first sight, and every season thereafter until the company’s unfortunate demise, my anticipation was always high awaiting its newest catalog.

Many of the items from this particular season hung in my closet over the years, and were I still able to fit into them, they would still be there in my regular rotation. Fortunately, I still have several of Huntington’s classic and timeless ties, which are still in perfect wearing condition.

Huntington allowed me to purchase quality American-made clothing at affordable prices, which in turn allowed me to have the ability regularly purchase a lot of items without having to remortgage my home. — JIM MCGRATH

34 Comments on "Affordable & American Made: Remembering Huntington Clothiers"

  1. Thoroughly enjoyable!
    I’d never seen so “recent” a Huntington catalog before; the ones I remember had hand-drawn illustrations, not photographs.
    The layout looks as if it was influenced by the Robert Kirk Ltd.-Cable Car Clothıers catalogs of the time.

  2. I recently picked up two Huntington v-neck sweaters in Navy and Charcoal from a thrift store in Columbus. They were in fantastic shape and were quickly added to the rotation. They certainly were a cut (or two) above than anything else I’ve come across. American made as well. Glad to know a bit more history.

  3. leisureclass | October 29, 2012 at 11:28 am |

    I hope some deep pocketed Trad out there buys this name out and brings back these designs, exactly as the once were.

  4. @leisureclass That would be incredible, and maybe a miracle like that will happen.

    To me, the second best option (and the one that makes the most sense) is for Lands End (or some such company) to purchase the name and introduce it as a special line. “HUNTINGTON by Lands End,” or something like that. They already sell a lot of affordable semi-Trad pieces; why not go the extra mile and create a limited run of clothing based on the classic designs?

    I realize that I’m doing a whole lot of armchair quarterbacking right now and somebody a lot smarter than me could probably give 1000 reasons why that idea doesn’t make good business sense. But it seems to me the market is there, and an existing company with name recognition and infrastructure already in place could do well with the idea.

  5. I love the old catalog pics. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I still have two Huntington suits in my closet. Although most of my suits and sport coats are J Press and Brooks, Huntington was a great source to enhance the rotation. When I purchased them I believe the cost was $100. What a value.

  7. I began getting stuff from Huntington about 1987 and continued into the 90s. Even after I moved to the D.C. area and my budget and location allowed me to shop Press, Brooks and Bank, I still got things from Huntington too. I still have six sportcoats from them that fit fine-favorite is a green donegal tweed with a perfect 3/2 roll.I also wear some shirts and ties from them as well. I agree that Huntington allowed one to get the authentic look at an affordable price, and their being mail order made their line easily available. About the only complaint I have was that their jackets tended to be about an inch shorter than Press or Brooks (I take a long), but that’s really more of a quibble than a gripe. Otherwise, their things have held up just as well as those offered by the Ivy big guns. It really broke my heart when they went under.

    I was going through some stuff the other night, and came across two catalogues I’d saved, one from 1992 and the other from 2001, just before the end. I really enjoyed looking back through them–I wish I’d saved more of them. I really appreciated the post, too. I agree that it would be really nice if somebody could fill a mid-range Ivy niche–Brooks and Press have gotten too rich for my blood the past couple of years. I’d be willing to sacrifice some quality for an affordable authentic look.

  8. Agree with all of the above. Although I purchased some items from Brooks back in those days, I had many of my everyday work wear suits and sportcoats from Huntington, and in many ways, they out wore my Brooks suits. They had great shirts too, and all things at reasonable prices. I did gripe at them about their ties, when they made them wider, not long before their demise.

  9. Thanks to Christian for sharing my Spring 1995 HC’s catalog with everyone. Glad to see that others also liked and purchased from HC’s.
    As a “purist”, I certainly do miss them and wish that HC’s could be recreated by a current retailer with the same affordable/good quality clothing.
    Jim Mc.

  10. NaturalShoulder | October 30, 2012 at 8:14 am |

    One of my fraternity brothers received the Huntington catalogs in 89 or 90 and recommended their shirts. I ordered one and was very impressed, as it was much nicer than anything I had at the time.

  11. Coincidentally, today I am wearing a Huntington tie. I bought many shirts from them, all of high quality, and the last one gave up the ghost ten or so years ago.

    They bought “The Custom Shop” chain, with debt as I recall, at exactly the wrong time, the dawn of the casual Friday and then casual-everyday era, and this sank them for good.

    For Joel C.: If you want to sacrifice some quality for an authentic look, you’ve got Lands End.

  12. I discovered Huntington in the mid ’80s, when their catalogs had colored illustrations along the lines of Brooks Brothers. One of the hardest working, longest lasting 3 button navy blue blazers (hook and center vent no less) I ever owned came from Huntington. It lasted over 12 years. I believe it cost $79 when I purchased it in 1987. Their oxford cloth shirts were high quality. I still have two – both button down popovers, short sleeved, with patch flap pockets, one blue and the other in white. Thankfully they still fit.

  13. MSegle2, with his comments about the hook vent (typical of Huntington jackets) that their jackets had lapped seams, which I’ve always considered a nice touch. Some of their jackets had patch breast pockets, which I also thought added a bit of sprezzatura.

    @Don, you’re right, up to a point. However, as far as I know, LE has never been into 3/2, dartless natural shoulder jackets, at least not since I’ve been buying from them (1987). Their shirts, trousers, ties & shoes have been pretty trad, though, disappointly, not so much in the past couple of years.

  14. I fondly remember the Huntington catalogues. I used to buy its Oxford shirts.

    I think that they used to advertise in The New Yorker.

    Thanks for the memories.

    Mark Seitelman
    http://www.seitelman.com

  15. Patrick Sullivan | November 1, 2012 at 4:31 am |

    Was it the New Yorker or the Sunday New York Times Magazine? Either way, my father used to order new shirts every couple years via the ad.

    I went to college not far from Columbus and I know we took a trip into the city that included Huntington, but I don’t remember much else about it.

    Every couple of years I find a Huntington jacket or suit. They certainly wear well.

    And once I stumbled across a mother lode of 10 Huntington shirts, in my size, still in their wrappers. Straight collar white, and a couple of buttondown pinpoints in white and blue. I slowly release them into the shirt rotation, and at the full moon I arrange them on my portable altar and hold a seance.

  16. Michael Scott Coovert | December 7, 2012 at 5:32 am |

    I was in my college prime when I used to buy all kinds of stuff from Huntington catalogs. Believe it or not, I kept them in great condition. Today, I am disabled and have gained a great deal of weight and can’t wear a lot of it. I started pulling a lot of it from my closet and wondered what happened to the company cause I would have loved to have replaced a lot it. I hate that the company no longer exists. To anyone who is interested, I am about to list a lot of my Huntington sportcoats and vests on ebay. Some of them, I only wore once or twice. One really great vest, I never wore at all. I have tons really great Huntington ties that I will never part with. They were such a great company!! I too have pages from their old catalogs. I kept them to remind me which ties went with which vests and which jackets.

  17. @Mark Seitelman
    @ Patrick Sullivan

    I think it was also the Smithsonian magazine.

  18. Ahh the good old days – I was an avid HC shopper. I miss their catalogs and their clothes…..

  19. Dan Sweeney | July 24, 2013 at 11:27 am |

    Yes , Huntington was the best and as we speek I have on a pair of Khaki’s from Huntington that still look great after many good years.
    Thanks HUNTINGTON ,,
    You are missed.
    Dan Sweeney

  20. I still have a few of the button down dress shirts that I purchased from Huntington years ago. They were well made and stood the test of time. I loved the long button down collars and barreled cuffs.
    I wish that someone would restart this business.
    Thanks

  21. I was one of the fortunate ones who was able to shop at their store at Alum Creek. Not the best place to be but was wonderful to be able to stop and shop. Sorry this ole friend is gone. Hello Joe Banks??????

  22. What a great company. I can’t even begin to imagine how many button down 100% cotton oxford shirts I bought. I recently found, in a storage box, three, brand new still in the package, shirts. I’m they were too small for me, since I had gained a lot of weight, hoping some day they would fit. Well, I have lost those excess pounds and they fit.

    Over the years I have found other companies but none really replaced Huntingtons.

  23. The history of Huntington Clothiers (it helps some to name your new company after your lender bank, i.e.,Huntington National Bank) begins in the basement of our home in Columbus (Bexley) in 1978. First ad was on Feb. 28 in the national edition of the Wall St. Journal. Our five-year-old son was the security guard, assigned to protecting the first lot of 1,600 oxford cloth 100% cotton button down shirts.

    Thank you all for your generous compliments and fond remembrances. Does anyone happen to still have the poem from the khaki twills page?

    BKS
    co-founder Huntington Clothiers Inc.

  24. BKS – I have been working on a piece on Huntington. I would love to get connect with you sometime. I live outside of Columbus. You can reach me oxfordclothbuttondown@gmail.com. I hope to hear from you.

  25. @Oxford Cloth Button Down

    Looking forward to your Huntington piece.

  26. I still have some Huntington shirts, jackets and slacks, and I’m still wearing them. It helps that I couldn’t get into them for about 10 years, but then I lost 40 lbs, and am happily wearing them again. That just shows that it’s sensible to buy clothes that won’t go out of style, and then not to toss hem just because they’re a little tight!

  27. Ben Dawson | April 24, 2015 at 7:12 pm |

    I had wondered what happened to them. I am wearing a Huntington traditional Navy blazer today (my everyday one – I have a Brooks one for fancier occasions) and thought I’d troll the web to see whatever happened to them. I always thought their quality better than Bank. I have only owned one thing from J. Press, a shirt I bought when I was at Harvard in the late ’50s. Seems to me Saks U. Shop had good if very pricey ones too. Now I’m stuck with Brooks, although thankfully their quality seems to have improved lately after a period of problems.

  28. @Ben Dawson
    Might I suggest that you use “trawl the net” rather than “troll the net” in order to avoid ambiguity?

  29. James Langdell | April 26, 2015 at 9:14 pm |

    Today I wore a deep tan silk shirt from Huntington that I dug out of my closet. I searched for the company on the internet, and was sad to find that my memory was correct about them going of out business in the 21st century. I’m glad to see these memories and details about their fine and affordable products.

  30. Tim Hawkins | June 11, 2015 at 8:31 am |

    I was fortunate enough to have worked as a shipping/receiving clerk for Huntington, while attending college in the early 90’s. I still consider Huntington, the best place I ever worked. BKS, treated every employee like family. And if you guys didn’t know about the special Saturday sales in the warehouse you truly missed out. We were the sharpest dressed college kids on campus! I still have my college interview suit hanging in the closet at my folks house. Thanks for bring back some great memories.

  31. Glad to see my contribution on HC’s from 2012, is still being read. I too wish this company would be re-opened by BKS. Maybe just a mail order, if nothing else.

  32. Being stationed overseas, HC was my go-to source for great American styles at 2d-Lieutenant-budget prices. HC served me well throughout the interview process when I left the military and even held up to a field ops role with a well-known fried chicken division of PepsiCo (then). I have found that Jos A Bank has lost their 3-button soul and am at least glad that Brooks Brothers seems to have regained their quality footing, but at a price. Their outlet stores at least keep them within a sane price range but only just. It would be GREAT to have someone re-start an organization like Huntington Clothiers. There is a huge market space ready and waiting for classic-cut clothing that does not have the high costs of BB.

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