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