Ivy Style had the somber privilege of sharing the news of Norman Hilton‘s death back in 2012, and now, lest his name be forgotten at this tumultuous time in American retailing and American society, we revisit this post. May it serve as a reminder that the qualities of being both uncompromising and visionary can carry you through the ups and downs, especially when wedded to goodness, as in good taste.
Upon his death, Hilton’s son Nick, who also works in menswear, said the following to the trade publication MR:
Perhaps the best word to describe my dad is ‘uncompromising.’ In every aspect of his life, he never settled: it had to be hand-sewn button-through throat latches on his sportcoats, gold-stamped Tiffany stationery, John Lobb shoes. When he wanted to add neckwear to his collection, he hired Ralph Lauren. Nothing but the best: every detail perfect.
Norman Hilton was a visionary. Hired to build the Burberry brand in America, he didn’t sell raincoats; he sold British heritage. He had an amazing ability to see the bigger picture.
From my dad, I learned everything about piece goods, about why two-ply English cloth works better for tailored clothing than flimsy Italian fabrics. He was never afraid of high prices: his clothing was for customers who wanted the best and that’s what he gave them. But more than any of this, my father was an incredibly generous man. The outpouring of love and affection at his funeral will stay with me always.