Garment Industry

Displaying 21 - 30 of 52

Interview with Marshall Gordon about his family's experience in the Kansas City garment industry. His father, Hyman Gordon, operated the Frances Gee Company, manufacturing inexpensive housedresses during the Depression and World War II, later shifting to manufacturing uniforms. Marshall discusses working at the family business from 1960 to 1972, and returning after his father passed away in the early 1990s. He discusses their shift to manufacturing in Puerto Rico and Japan, the decline of the company, their relationship with the garment workers' union, as well as their real estate holdings and development work.

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Interview with Bill Kaiser about his life and his company, the Bill Kaiser Company, which was a supplier to the Midwestern garment industry. He discusses his family's business importing sewing machine parts in New York, and starting his company in Kansas City after moving from New York in 1971 supplying local manufacturers with sewing machines and parts, pressing equipment, and other supplies. He notes that by 1971 manufacturing had largely moved out of the city into smaller regional towns, and says that he believes a resistance to new, faster technology and automation was a factor in the decline of the local industry. He also discusses the assembly line process of clothing manufacturing and the variety of machines and other equipment required for production, and the American garment industry's shift to overseas manufacturing.

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Interview with Nancy Hipsh about her family's history in the Kansas City garment industry. She discusses her grandfather Harry Hipsh's start in the cap making business before moving on to manufacturing neckties at several factories in northwestern Missouri. Her father, Charles Hipsh, worked for the business and later established Empire State Bank in 1963. She also shares photographs and miscellany from Hipsh Manufacturing and Textile Distributors, Inc., and shares stories about her father's political involvement, her upbringing, and other family members.

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Interview with Rose Stolowy about her life and her family's experience in the Kansas City garment industry. She recounts her husband Saul's immigration to the United States from Poland, his background in tailoring and design, and his work for and later ownership of Kansas City Custom Garment Company. She notes famous clients including Harry Truman, Nelson Rockefeller, and Kansas City Police chief and FBI director Clarence Kelley, and recalls starting her own fabric business, Midtown Fabric Shop, at 39th and Troost. She also recounts meeting and marrying Saul, and says that he helped Truman enter the haberdashery business.

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Interview with Barbara Bloch about her family's history in the Kansas City garment industry. She discusses her family history in the business, sewing in the factory at 12 years old, and entering the restaurant uniform business by selling aprons to Kelly's Bar in Westport. She discusses the growth of that venture, her later work in direct sales of high-end clothing and accessories, and later opening Her Majesty's Closet, a luxury consignment store in Prairie Village, Kansas. She also notes new and remaining people in the local garment industry, as well as describing the business of operating her consignment store, and they discuss the prevalence of Jewish business owners in the industry.

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Interview with Dale Rice about his family's experience in the Kansas City garment industry. Dale recounts the story of his grandfather David coming to Kansas City to work as a production manager at Stern-Slegman-Prins and later splitting off to start Rice Coat Company, which was later bought out by his sons, Frank and Lou. Dale discusses joining his father, Frank, in the business in 1968, and seeing the downturn in business which he attributes to imports, changes in fashion, shifts in the retail industry, and notes that he was one of the last remaining local manufacturers before ultimately closing the company in 1993. He also discusses the work of patternmakers and designers, and shares stories about working with his father.

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Interview with DeSaix Gernes about her life and involvement in Kansas City's garment industry. She describes her family background and childhood, and recalls her father founding Gernes Garment Company based on reception to a full-skirted dress his wife designed and sewed for DeSaix and neighborhood girls. She discusses the company's success through the Great Depression, the fun of visiting the factory as a child, and details of the business and its different lines including sizing and pricing. She also shares stories about the company's production of WAC uniforms during World War II, her husband and mother taking over the company after her father's death in 1947, and the popularity of the Gay Gibson line, and ultimately the company's bankruptcy filing in 1978.

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Interview with Inge Silverman about her life and experience working at Harzfeld's department store. She recounts the story of her and her family's immigration from Germany in 1936, escaping antisemitism ahead of World War II, and joining other family; her mother being hired at Harzfeld's, and later working for Cricket West. She discusses going to work at Harzfeld's herself as a teenager, working in sales and modeling clothes for customers, owner Siegmund Harzfeld's reputation for generosity and kindness with his employees, and later working for City National Bank and Beth Shalom Synagogue. She describes moving to Dallas in 1960, returning to Kansas City in 1970, and finding the retail landscape different and less high end due to market changes; and discusses the change from full service sales model to customers shopping on their own, noting what modern stores still provide additional service. She also recalls her mother's friendship with painter Thomas Hart Benton and his wife Rita.

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Interview with Bruce and Bob Gershon about the history of their family company, Arrowhead Fabricare Services. They discuss the building's construction at the corner of 39th and Troost, salvaging furs and leather goods from Plaza stores after the 1977 flood, their garment company clients, a venture into hat-making, and share stories about their lives, families, and the dry-cleaning business.

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Interview with Margie Sackin about her family's hardware and tool company, Harry Epstein Company, located in Kansas City's historic Garment District. Her father, Harry Epstein, started the business in 1930 and it served largely as a distributor to regional hardware stores, and continues to sell American-made tools primarily through its website. After Harry Epstein died in 1992, the business was run by her husband, Gene, and their sons, and a grandson. She discusses the social milieu of the garment district, local restaurants, the decline of the garment industry, and describes the operations of Harry Epstein Company, and their specialization in American-made tools, at the time of the interview.

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