Garment Industry

Displaying 41 - 50 of 52

Interview with Michael Lerner about the Kansas City garment industry and his family's company, King Louie. He recounts his father Morris and uncles founding the Lerner Cap Company, later changing the name to Lerner Brothers Manufacturing and going into production of military clothing at the start of World War II. After the war they shifted to sportswear, and later, to bowling shirts under the name King Louie, as his uncle Victor Lerner was a professional bowler. He discusses how the company grew to encompass bowling alleys and other businesses, shifting to overseas manufacturing and imports, and eventually buying back the brand from a venture capital firm in 2006 and re-establishing the business as an American-made, union labor firm that manufactures uniforms and promotional garments.

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Interview with Sherman Dreiseszun about his life, his work in the Kansas City garment industry, and other ventures. He was the first of his family born in the United States after his parents and siblings migrated to Kansas City from the Polish-Russian border and later served as gunner in the Army Air Corps in World War II. He later owned the Vic-Gene Manufacturing Company with his nephew Frank Morgan, which he described as manufacturing knock-offs of popular garments including Pendleton jackets and corduroy "slick shirts." He and Morgan later opened Metcalf South Shopping Center in Overland Park,

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Interview with Harvey Fried about his life and about the Kansas City garment industry. Fried describes the early start of the local garment industry in the West Bottoms, with the buildings in the downtown Garment District built between approximately 1898-1915, and notes Kansas City's position as a rail hub in the center of the country as being key to manufacturing and distribution. He also recounts his parents' backgrounds, his father opening the Fried-Siegel Company in 1930 and Style Line Manufacturing Company in 1939, and the companies' role producing a wide assortment of apparel. He discusses the work of garment manufacturing and distribution in detail, the predominance of Jewish ownership in the industry, and the evolution of the Fried-Siegal and Style Line into smaller firms alongside the shrinking of the local and national garment industries. He also discusses the evolution of the Garment District neighborhood to the present and shares photographs.

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Interview with Rosa Guarino about her life and career in the Kansas City garment industry. She discusses coming to the United States from Sicily by way of France, getting work sewing collars at Coronet in the garment district, accusations from coworkers that she was taking their work, and later working at Betty Rose near 31st and Linwood with a more diverse group of workers. She recalls the factory abruptly closing when the company chose to move manufacturing to China, resulting in 500 people losing jobs.

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Interview with Linda Lighton about the history of the Woolf Brothers clothing stores, which he father worked at and later owned. She discusses the company's origins in the late 1800s, selling men's clothing and haberdashery at 1020 Walnut, and its expansion over the decades to locations at the Plaza, area malls, and regional cities, as well as expanding to sell women's clothing. She also discusses the life of Herbert Woolf, the Kansas City Jewish community, and says that she heard Herbert Woolf "discovered" actress Jean Harlow. She connects the decline of the business to the 1977 flood that damaged the Plaza store and her father Alfred being shot in a mugging, as well as the ascendance of clothing and department store chains in the 1980s.

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Interview with Cy and Esther Rudnick about their lives and their store, Cy Rudnick's Fabrics. Cy recalls coming to Kansas City to manage Kaplan's Fabrics and later operating his own store in Crown Center from 1976 to 2006. They discuss fabric buying, custom clothing, and notable customers, and sewing becoming a creative outlet rather than a necessary task. They also discuss the prevalence of Jewish families in the fabric business and their disinterest in shifting their business online.

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Interview with Hal Hardin about his history working in Kansas City's garment industry. He discusses the origin of the Donnelly Garment Company, his experience serving in the Mediterranean during World War II, his early life and work, and his start with the Donnelly company in 1952. He describes his beginning in advertising and his later work in sales, ultimately becoming their national sales manager. He also discusses his work with stores across the country; their plants in North Kansas City, St. Joseph, and Nevada, Missouri; their clothing lines and sales territories; and staying with the company until it shut down in 1978. He then opened a new manufacturing company which he operated until selling in 1990.

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Interview with Lou Lesky and Elmer Price about their experiences in the Kansas City garment industry. Lesky recalls his work at Kansas City Custom Garment Company, a men's clothing maker which switched to military uniform manufacturing during World War II, and uniforms for bus drivers, bakers, and other occupations post-war. Price discusses his white goods businesses in downtown Kansas City and later near 39th and Main. The men recall the Garment District of the past, noting other companies and individuals from the area, and talk about how much it has changed. They discuss the operations of their businesses and the decline of the textile and clothing industry in the United States.

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Interview with Arthur Brand about the history of the Jewish community and his family in the Kansas City area. He describes that he and his extended family came to Kansas City from New York City in June 1928, starting Brand and Puritz garment company, and the development and decline of Kansas City's garment industry from the 1930s through the 1970s. He also discusses at length the evolution of the Jewish community from its beginning in the urban core to its eventual shift south Kansas City and later to Johnson County; issues such as assimilation and intermarriage; and the development of institutions including Menorah Hospital, the Jewish Federation of Kansas City, Jewish Vocational Services, and Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, named for his father; and his involvement with a Judaic Studies program at University of Missouri-Kansas City.

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Interview with Catherine Reyes about her life and experience in Kansas City's Westside neighborhood. Born in 1931, she recalls her early life and education in Mexico City after being born in Independence, Kansas, their struggles during the Great Depression, her realization that she was a foreigner in Mexico, and moving to Kansas City on her own at the age of 17. She discusses working as an inspector and seamstress in a garment factory, marrying and raising children, being joined in Kansas City by her brother and mother, continuing to learn English, and going to work in the bilingual education program with Kansas City Public Schools.

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