Southern Exposure: Milton Julian, 1919-2015


I run into Alexander Julian every so often at menswear events. He’s always mentioning his family shop — Julian’s of Chapel Hill, NC — and how it helped popularize the Ivy League Look during the heyday.

Well last week Alex lost his uncle Milton Julian, who was a partner in Julian’s before he set off on his own with Milton’s Clothing Cupboard. Originally from Massachusetts, the reports of Julian’s death in the local media specifically mentioned his role in exposing Ivy in the South.

The News & Observer writes:

Julian got his start in the clothing business working with Maurice at Julian’s College Shop on Franklin Street. The store first served servicemen training in Chapel Hill and later dressed young men returning to college. The brothers previously rented and sold bikes to UNC students.

In 1948, Milton Julian opened his own shop – Milton’s Clothing Cupboard – on West Franklin Street. The store moved to 163 E. Franklin St. in 1952, where it stayed until 1992. Milton’s served a gamut of locals and visitors, from college students and residents to well-known personalities, such as jazz singer Nat “King” Cole, basketball star James Worthy and former Gov. Terry Sanford.

Julian was an innovator who brought the preppy Ivy League-look to Chapel Hill and the South, family members said. The business boomed, expanding to Atlanta, Dallas, Charlotte and other cities.

“I gave students insight on how to dress like a man and helped men dress with more style,” Julian said in 2013, when the Chapel Hill Historical Society named him a Town Treasure. “I was innovative. I educated and I had a lot of fun. Milton’s wasn’t a club, but it was the next best thing to it.”

It was Julian’s affinity for sales that earned him the nickname “the poor man’s Brooks Brothers,” friends said.

Head here for the rest of the article, and here for his obituary in the Charlotte Observer, and here for a post on the Julian brothers from the Ivy League Look blog. — CC


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5 Comments on "Southern Exposure: Milton Julian, 1919-2015"

  1. Perhaps somebody who has access to the New Yorker’s online archives could share the Milton’s Clothing Cupboard ads that appeared regularly in the back pages of that magazine in the 1960s.

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  3. Boston Bean | January 29, 2015 at 4:00 pm |

    One more Jewish gentleman to whom we owe the survival of traditional style.

  4. I attended The University of North Carolina during the early 1980s and purchased my first sportcoat at the original Milton’s on Franklin Street – a brown herringbone tweed with leather buttons. 40 Long and I’ve lost most of the 15 extra lbs that made me part with it.

    The ads pictured are from the Atlanta store. Milton’s ran infamous sales with names like “Frog Strangler” and “Mad Night Zonker”… he’d hide gift certificates around campus, or open at midnight for these promotions.

    This article contains scans of many ads from the original Chapel Hill store.

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