Nick Hilton, Princeton-based son of late Ivy clothier (and Ralph Lauren’s first investor) Norman Hilton, has written a terrific post on his blog about the legendary clothier Langrock.
Entitled “A Case Study In Retail Darwinism,” the piece explores how Langrock’s resistance to change — even after the fall of the Ivy League Look — doomed it to extinction. Hilton writes:
I tried to sell Langrock our new (1971) “West End,” model. Named for the upscale, fashionable end of London, it was a shapely, two-button, darted front jacket. I thought I could convince Allen Frank, the owner, that “updated” traditional was tasteful and right. He wasn’t buying, but with a vengeance. Mr. Frank wasn’t insensitive to my pitch; he was downright insulted. True Natural Shoulder style was his Religion; the three-button, undarted coat style, the flannelly finish, and skinny pants were the sacred icons of the faith. Anyone who proposed a change was the Infidel.
“Never!” He practically shouted. “I could never put that kind of stuff in this store! Never! My customers would be insulted.” You’d think I’d been proposing human sacrifice. “This store stands for timeless good taste. We have no use for your fads and gimmicks. Our customers know what they want, and they don’t want shape!” It never occurred to him that Ivy League itself was just a longish-lasting fad.
Get the full story here.