The Son Also Rises: New Philadelphia Haberdashery Junior’s

While many menswear retailers are shuttering in the wake of the virus and its economic aftermath, a new “updated trad” shop, Junior’s, has opened. Based in Philadelphia, it was founded by Glenn Au, a veteran of O’Connell’s and H. Stockton.

Contributing writer Eric Twardzik investigates.

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Glenn Au may have named his new made-to-measure business “Junior’s,” but the 32-year-old is no newcomer to the world of traditional American style. A Buffalo native, Au started his menswear career by working at O’Connell’s after learning they stocked Alden shoes. He later joined the team at John B. Rourke in Savannah, before finding employment at H. Stockton in Atlanta. Along the way, Au picked up a little something from each of the classic men’s shops. 

“O’Connell’s is where I learned about the genuine article, the importance of quality manufacturing and how important a web presence is. At John B. Rourke I fell in love with the possibilities and fit of a custom garment. And at H. Stockton I learned about customer relationships, and it’s where I took on the most responsibility as their E-Commerce Manager and Social Media Manager along with being part of the buying team,” he says. 

It’s easy to see the Philadelphia-based Junior’s, which officially launched in July, as a modern incarnation of the classic American haberdashery. Like the campus shops of yore, Junior’s offers made-to-measure suits, sportcoats and shirts that are produced at American factories, along with a selection of ready-to-wear items sourced from Great Britain and Italy. Unlike those traditional brick-and-mortar stores, Junior’s has neither brick nor mortar. In fact, you might say that Junior’s is wherever Au happens to be—which if you make an appointment, could mean your home, your office, or a hotel pop-up.

While this nomadic model seems uniquely fitted to our current moment, Au says his idea for it predates the pandemic.

“The business plan to start Junior’s is the same now as its was pre-quarantine life. I planned to do made-to-measure by appointment wherever the client is most comfortable and debut the e-commerce for Fall 2020… now with the virus, the social distancing, and overall concern about being in crowds and public places, a private appointment is more favorable than ever.”

As for the clothing you may be measured for, there’s a healthy dose of Ivy in Junior’s DNA, along with English and Italian touches. “I think a lot of the influence goes back to my foundations and the people I learned from along the way in the industry,” Au says. “I’m personally attracted to the Ivy, English and Italian aesthetics and try to pick bits from each to create my own look, and a look that I promote to clients in a way that works best for them.”

The house style is marked by a natural shoulder and a 3/2 roll, and clients can opt to go “fully Ivy” by requesting patch pockets, a hooked center vent, and lapped seams. “This is the style I was raised on and applying it to made-to-measure garments has become second nature to me and for my clients,” Au says. Just as importantly, the fabric selection errs in the trad direction. “I have cloth that aligns perfectly with what I once heard Jay Walter of J. Press say, ‘Cloth with no shine.’ To me that means Harris Tweed in all colors and patterns, Scottish tweed and district checks from Abraham Moon, worsted allsport from Hardy Minnis, hard-wearing wool fresco and heavy-duty cotton twill,” Au says.

While Junior’s offers close to 100 collar options for its shirting, Au seems most enthusiastic about its button-down collar, which is made to his precise specifications. “The word designed is too fancy for what happened. Basically, I played around with the numbers until I got what I wanted and what we see now,” says Au. “The length of the collar is 3.5”, and it is lined and fused to the lightest levels my shirtmaker can do. Combining those elements, along with the collar band height, creates that great-looking roll.”

Aside from the made-to-measure offerings, Junior’s will sell Alden Shoes (which they can special order from the footwear maker), Shetland sweaters, English-made ancient madder ties, lambswool knit caps, rugby shirts, cotton canvas trousers in an “updated Ivy fit,” and even pens and pencils. 

“Everything is made in the USA, England, Scotland or Italy. Sweaters to pencils,” Au says. 

Even considering its nimble business model and Au’s enthusiasm, it seems fair to ask how Junior’s will succeed at a time when many sellers of traditional American style have been struggling, even before coronavirus. “I think as far as the men’s clothing industry goes for small shops, we are at a fork in the road,” Au says. “One fork leads to slowly fading away and the other fork leads to developing our business and adapting to the changing world.” The path Junior’s has taken emphasizes customer connection, and the ability to offer something exclusive. “Customer service, in my opinion, is more important than ever. Some of my best clients have become friends over the years. Another way to adapt, I believe, is to develop your own product. At Junior’s, I want to show product to a customer that they won’t find in other stores,” Au says.

In addition to operating on a by-appointment basis in Philadelphia, Au plans to occasionally bring Junior’s on the road, starting with a visit to Atlanta from August 14-16th. He also expects to launch an e-commerce side of the website in the fall to sell Junior’s ready-to-wear clothing and accessories. 

And someday, there might even be a physical space for the upstart haberdasher to call home. “It’s a big part of the dream! So, the short answer is yes, I want there to be a Junior’s store front. The timing of that is just up in the air right now, and a goal I will work towards,” Au says. — ERIC TWARDZIK

28 Comments on "The Son Also Rises: New Philadelphia Haberdashery Junior’s"

  1. Good news indeed!

    Can’t resist noticing the unbuttoned cuffs in the photo. Two unbottoned on the left, three unbuttoned on the right… Stylish gentlemen should take it easy on unbuttoning their coat cuffs…

  2. Nice profile, Eric. But I was left wondering if this sentence, “Just as importantly, the fabric selection errs in the trad direction,” was an attempt at humor or an improper use of the verb “to err.”

  3. Dig the plaid madras jacket. Dig it the most. I wish Mr. Au
    the very best of luck.

    Cheers

    Will

  4. Charlottesville | August 11, 2020 at 3:46 pm |

    Very best of luck, Mr. Au. While it certainly makes sense to offer a broad range of options, I am delighted that your house style will be a natural shoulder, 3/2 roll, and it appears undarted. The shirt fabrics and ties also look great. I hope you return from Atlanta with a full order book.

    And thank you, Eric, for bringing Junior’s to our attention.

  5. @ I.T. To my eye, which may after all be blind, cuffs and collars left unbuttoned show the non-buttoner straining for sprezzatura. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/sprezzatura

  6. Thanks Eric and thanks Ivy Style readers! Looking forward to the future and hopefully meeting and measuring some of you. Let me know if you have any questions.

    Regards,

    Glenn Au
    Instagram: @shopjuniors

  7. William Timmins | August 11, 2020 at 5:35 pm |

    Best of luck to Mr. Au and welcome to Philadelphia. My closet is pretty well stocked at this point, but glad to know there is a new local haberdasher in town. Here’s hoping everything he touches turns to gold……

  8. Great news. Promising. Best of luck.

    Not entirely surprising because Philadelphia remains a traditional city in ways that Boston and New York have not.

  9. Good luck. I especially appreciate the choice of manufacturing locations.

  10. NaturalShoulder | August 11, 2020 at 11:08 pm |

    Nice to read about a new business launching in the COVID era after so many stories of businesses closing.you certainly have an impressive background in retailing at such a young age. Please to see you will be offering options for both the Ivy purist and gents looking for a more updated look. Fabric selections look impressive and American made to boot. I wish you well.

  11. Good luck Mr Au. Question for readers: why does anyone use the “TV fold”? To me it summons blandness. It is almost as bad as using a three-triangle swatch stapled to cardboard such as dry cleaners used to hand out. And I must agree with the cavils about unbuttoning. It was fine for Jean Cocteau, but until one directs and writes “Orphee” one should limit the unbuttoning to a singleton. N.B. Cocteau’s forearms revealed in a Cecil Beaton photo: https://kingandallen.co.uk/media/1527/jc-6.jpg

  12. Thanks Tom.

    Just a personal preference when using a white linen square. Same thing can be said for the sleeve buttoning.

    Thanks for checking us out!

  13. This is nice to see. I will stop by at my first opportunity. Best wishes sent for your success!

  14. Excellent! I hope this works out well and becomes recognized as the model to emulate. I’ve never visited John B. Rourke, but O’Connell’s and H. Stockton are both certainly good company.

    Beautiful stuff in the photos.

    As for the folding of handkerchiefs and buttoning of cuffs etc., it is understood that marketing photos as well as mannequin displays are not to be considered prescriptive.

  15. Exciting news indeed. My first thought was about the possibility of ordering a couple of OCBD shirts for comparison to those made by Mercer. Some good looking items featured here.

    Best Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich

  16. Old School Tie | August 12, 2020 at 11:13 am |

    As B.A. Baracus says “I Pitti the fool…”

  17. Charlottesville | August 12, 2020 at 2:49 pm |

    FWIW, I like the so-called TV fold for a white handkerchief. While I frequently, even perhaps usually, wear a printed silk or linen square in the breast pocket, the simple white rectangle (possibly tilted up toward the outside edge) looks appropriate to me when a bit of formality is desired. All business, rather than dandy-ish, yet showing that a bit of care has been taken. With black tie, or with a pinstripe suit and white shirt at the office or at church? Not the only tasteful choice of course, but a white TV fold is always correct, and looks pretty good to me.

  18. Best of wishes in this new venture. Stay true to J. Press’ example and avoid doing another Brooks Brothers try at “fashion” rather than “Style.”

  19. Given the recent Brooks Brothers factory closures, it would be useful to know which American factories Mr Au uses. Personally, I’m not a fan of Harris Tweed or Abraham Moon. For tweed, in addition to Hardy Minnis, Mr Au should consider the Lovat Mill in Hawick and Johnsons of Elgin.

  20. Uh oh, I checked out the website. Only MTM?

  21. Docere,
    That’s the only way to go, for both the customer and the merchant.

  22. Hi Docere,

    Correct, MTM tailored clothing and shirts… for now! I had plans with an American shirt maker that ended up being wounded by the pandemic and I’d love to have RTW tailored clothing in the future.

    For Fall, I do have a small sportswear ready to wear collection coming and will debut our e-commerce. Stay tuned or sign up for the email list to know when this happens.

    Thanks!

  23. How is Philly doing in the wake of the riots? What is the Rittenhouse Square area like now? I love that city and hope that it can recover from the destruction and from the COVID restrictions.

  24. Hi Trace,

    The city seems to be coming back to life in a cautious way. Just a week ago spent a great Saturday in Rit House Park with my wife and son after hitting the farmers market stands. We love it too and are very optimistic.

  25. Many thanks for the update, Glenn.

  26. Philadelphia is a great city. Fingers crossed.

    This enterprise gives me real hope–that good taste prevails, even in/amidst these turbulent times. Let’s pause to consider how much of Brooks’ and J. Press’ business was gathered “on the road”–traveling salesmen who measured men for clothing and returned with orders galore: A lot. The days before the so-called “Heyday,” when, for a brief moment, Ivy shops littered cities and college towns throughout the country.

    This marks a return to those days when a small % of American men wore tailored, natural shoulder clothing.

  27. Peter Maynard | August 13, 2020 at 2:50 pm |

    If that photo represents Mr. Au’s idea of sartorial and tonsorial style, I’m afraid I don’t understand.

  28. City boying looking for old ways | August 14, 2020 at 4:46 pm |

    Moved to philly over a decade ago for work and currently looking to moving out. The common idea of dressing up is wearing sweatpants with the least amount of stains; saving items with 2 stains or less for only the fanciest of settings. Overall a pretty ugly dressed city, but I haven’t really seen other cities to compare. Negativity aside, an honest best of luck though…. A city this big probable has a few hundred customers who still dress properly, maybe.

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