Former J. Press Manufacturer Julius Hertling, 1925-2017

Last week saw the passing of Julius Hertling at the age of 92. His eponymous menswear manufacturing firm made clothing for J. Press for decades.

Richard Press invited me to join him at the memorial service for his longtime friend and colleague, where he had this to say about the man he affectionately called “Julie”:

Julie Hertling was a very special man, illustrated by his heroism in the Battle Of The Bulge during World War II. When I met him in the mid-’60s, he had the gruff intelligence, go-get-’em quality of a veteran, but he was a magnificent manufacturer, and made more than half our suits on J. Press patterns devised by Paul and Irving Press. He used to joke with me that we were small time compared to all the other department stores that he served throughout America.

Having eventually gone out of business, in his mid-seventies he formed Hertling Trousers and I visited him at his workshop several times. He’d always take me to De Monte’s, which is a pseudo-mafia hangout in Brooklyn. In his factory he had about a dozen tailors making trousers, and he introduced me to every single one, and knew each of their biographies.

In the tradition of Southwick and Norman Hilton, Hertling’s suits and sportcoats were natural shoulder with high notch lapel, represented perfectly the J. Press Ivy League soft-shoulder model. His trousers, which were a specialty, were mostly plain front with 20-inch knee and 17-inch bottom, and his grey flannel trousers were quintessential trouser for J. Press. He began manufacturing for us in the mid ’60s and when I left J. Press in 1991, he was still the primary source for suits and trousers.

Richard and I hadn’t seen each other for months and immediately descended upon a Dunkin’ Donuts next door to Riverside Memorial Chapel. As you can see, we were both dressed apropos for a summertime funeral for a menswear colleague, with Richard in foulard bow tie, navy blazer, and penny loafers sans socks, and myself in black cotton dress trousers, woven tie and tassel loafers, plus white buttondown and Haspel seersucker jacket.

I was able to chat with the new owner of the Hertling brand, which is still making trousers. Stay tuned as the Ivy Style full-rise/narrow leg project might just get back on track.— CC

18 Comments on "Former J. Press Manufacturer Julius Hertling, 1925-2017"

  1. Mark Russell | August 22, 2017 at 11:50 am |

    Let me be the first to put my name on the list for the high-rise, narrow leg pants. I have several pair of Hertling pants and they are excellent.
    Sorry to hear that Mr. Hertling has left us.

  2. Rest in peace, Mr. Hertling. Sad to see more of our WWII generation pass on, particularly as young people have so much to learn from them.

  3. G. Bruce Boyer | August 22, 2017 at 1:10 pm |

    Once again thanks to King Richard for his lovely prose and sharp memory, always with compassionate understanding and insight. Our Ivy League Historian.

  4. Thanks for the 20-inch knee and 17-inch bottom dictate. It saves me from saying to the tailor “I want it the same asthis pair.”

  5. Memory eternal.

  6. RIP Mr Hertling.

    I hope the new owners stick with the company heritage, I’ve got few pairs of their trousers and they were a sure, high waist, tapered leg, bet. But lately I’ve noticed a few low rise, slim fits creeping into their repetoire, with Italian names like ‘Como’.

  7. Rough estimate, at least half of the trousers in my closet were made by Hertling. Very sorry to hear of Mr. Hertling’s passing.

    -The Hertling Wilson model (size 34) has an 11.5″ rise, a 20″ knee, and a 17″ leg opening.
    -The Gene model has the same rise, but adds an inch at the knee and the leg opening.
    -The Como on the other hand has a 9.75″ rise, a 19″ knee, and a 16.25″ leg opening.

    There are other models as well.

    The Wilson would appear to be Christian’s prototypical high rise with tapered leg. Any details, Christian, on what exactly you are looking for (specs and cloth)?

  8. Ken Pollock | August 23, 2017 at 5:15 pm |

    His trousers were the very best. I bought many of them here in Atlanta from Sid Mashburn and H. Stockton.

  9. Sad news on Mr. Hertling’s passing. I have been told he was a pleasure to know.

    The Como rise on a size 34 is more like 10.5 inches. That is if you measure the rise the correct way: out seam minus inseam. More of a mid-rise. Take a look at Dapper Classics trouser selection and see the measurements for yourself. The Classic fit is the Como model and the Slim is the Guarda.

    The Como is a very nice cut. It fact it is probably my favorite for a flat front model.

    I feel a 17″ opening does not hit what could be called a narrower leg.

  10. Jesse Livermore | August 23, 2017 at 8:50 pm |

    19 years old and right in the thick of the Battle of the Bulge.

    Today’s snowflakes have no idea.

    Requiescat In Pace, soldier.

  11. ZJP

    Thanks for the correction on the Como model.

    My numbers for the Wilson model should be okay — I measured a pair at home, whereas the numbers for the Como model I received from another source. When I checked a pair of trousers I purchased from Sid Mashburn against your numbers for the Como model they matched exactly.

    The Wilsons I have, by the way, I purchased from Harrison Limited.

    Does anyone know the measurements for the trousers offered by O’Connell’s and Ben Silver (some of which I believe are also made by Hertling)?

  12. Mac McConnell | August 24, 2017 at 10:26 am |

    Hertling’s trousers and suits could be bought at most Trad/Ivy shops across the Midwest. They also had made to measure suit program. My only made to measure clothing I ever purchased was a Hertling tux from Mister Guy in Wichita , Ks.

  13. Maybe Mr. Press can identify for us all of the suit and sport coat makers for J. Press over the years. I thought it mainly used a company named Franklin, which may have also been known as Oritsky, for many years. Actually, my favorite J. Press suit is quite old and is from the “Pressidential” line, made by [surprise] Hickey Freeman. The suit is much more J. Press, than Hickey, as it has perfect natural shoulders and a true “ivy” looking fabric (dark gray pindot) instead of the weird stuff Hickey that frequently came up with. I understand that, at present, its mid-quality (Prestige) suits are made by S. Cohen (which has had heavily padded shoulders, resulting in many complaints) and its best ones are by Southwick (Pressidential). Sadly, both are partly fused. I do not know who makes its least expensive suits.

  14. Great idea. Will work on a column about it. Hey, teacher, give some breathing space.

  15. RJG

    You are welcome. Good question on the O’Connell s and Silvers. I have a pair of Hertlings from O’Connell’s, however, they are the long rise version and have been tapered by my tailor. I couldn’t tell you the correct measurements!

  16. Mac McConnell | August 24, 2017 at 2:40 pm |

    I note Hertling is not listed on O’Connell’s brands on their website. I was told two years ago by one of their salesmen that their finer trousers were made in NYC, their chinos somewhere on the SE seaboard.

  17. Mac,

    My pair is from around 2011. Seeing the labels on the inside, they are the same as my other Hertling made trousers. When I see trousers made in NYC, I would bet they were made by Hertling. I could be wrong…

  18. Jim Harrigan | January 1, 2018 at 8:53 pm |

    I have two pairs of Hertling trousers made about 13 years ago. One pair is a basic worsted grey flannel. The other
    is grey calvary twill. I don’t know the trouser style, but they are very conservative. Plain front, 20″ knees and 17 inch
    bottoms with one inch and three quarters wide cuffs of course. I have been trying to get some Hertling dark grey cotton corduroy trousers, but I have not had any luck. I would like them in the standard 8 wale.

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