Fashion Clothes

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Article Contributed by
Joan V. Cusimano Lindquist

When M. Lorimer Moe claimed that a Swedish immigrant had “long operated one of the last old-style Swedish tailor shops in the city” in his book Saga From The Hills: A History of The Swedes of Jamestown, he was referring to Ernest Lindquist who owned and operated Fashion Clothes, a men’s clothing store that was located in old Brooklyn Square.

The history of how Fashion Clothes came to be is an interesting one. Ernest Lindquist was a European-trained tailor who came to this country from Urshult, Sweden, when he was a young man. Putting his skills to use and taking advantage of the opportunities in the city where many of his countrymen had found a home, he and Samuel Goldman established a men’s clothing store in 1934 called Fashion Tailors. It was located at 12 N. Main Street. However, before they collaborated in their own clothing business, Lindquist and Goldman had met circa 1930-32 at Jamestown Tailors, a clothing manufacturing plant on the corner of Harrison and S. Main (39 S. Main St.) that made clothes for the New Process Company (now Blair) in Warren, Pennsylvania. Ernest Lindquist was in charge of the cutting room, and Sam Goldman ran the sewing room. In 1936, they expanded their business of tailor-made and ready made suits to 14-16 N. Main Street, a larger, two-front store, maintaining the name Fashion Tailors until 1942 when the name changed to Fashion Clothes. And that is another point of historical interest!

Around the same time that Fashion Tailors, that was really a spin-off of Jamestown Tailors, was in business, Sears, Roebuck, and Company had a line of men’s clothing called fashion-tailored. Whether Sears thought Lindquist and Goldman had “plagiarized” the name of their store from fashion-tailored or sought to infringe on what Sears considered its rightful description of a men’s clothing line, Sears, Roebuck, being the larger and more financially powerful company, threatened Lindquist and Goldman with a law suit if they did not change the name of their store. To satisfy Sears and save their business, the name Fashion Tailors was dropped and thus Fashion Clothes came into being!

Nevertheless, the original business under the name Fashion Tailors, which featured made-to-order men’s suits, was alive and well at the 12. N. Main Street location in the early days of the Depression thanks to a clever plan called the Suit Club that was initiated and carried out by John Jaderstrom, one of the principals of the business along with Lindquist and Goldman. Jaderstrom, who was a salesman in the retail part of the business, would go uptown and give out a card with twenty lines on it to any man who wanted one. The object was to bring this card to Fashion Tailors every week and pay a dollar, which amount was recorded on one of the lines. When the card was full, a gentleman had twenty dollars toward a new suit. But if luck was on his side, a customer who had entered the Suit Plan could get a suit for less. Here is how it worked. The Suit Club cards were deposited in a box in the store, and there was a drawing every Saturday. The winner whose card was drawn would then get a suit for the amount recorded on his card, which might have been a lot less than twenty dollars! It helped business by keeping the store in competition with Richman Brothers, who sold men’s suits for $22.50 and, more important, staying afloat during the hard days of the 1930s.

Probably quite a few Jamestonians remember Fashion Clothes. In fact, the store, which was still owned and operated by Ernest Lindquist and Sam Goldman, employed Harold S. Lindquist, Sr. and Austin Lindquist, Ernest Lindquist’s sons, who ran the retail part of the business. The store still offered ready-to-wear men’s and women’s suits and coats as well as made-to-measure garments. And a good number of women worked in the sewing room at Fashion Clothes, among them an old Derby Street neighbor of mine, Gracie Gullo, and the late Rose Civiletto who authored an article in my second book Brooklyn Square, The Lost Neighborhood, and Beyond (2013). Rose worked at Fashion Clothes from 1950-52. She started out sewing parts of raincoats and then worked on the serging of men’s pants, a job that required putting a weave on the pant seams so that they would not fray. Rose recalled the eateries near Fashion Clothes where workers could get a good lunch, among them Harvey and Carey Drug Store. Some times she would go to the Salvation Army on Harrison Street for generous lunches for which she and others would leave a donation. Austin Lindquist recalled in an article he wrote for The Lost Neighborhood Collection (2010) a few other restaurants in old Brooklyn Square where one could get a good lunch for a reasonable price: the Brooklyn Restaurant, the Narrow Gauge, and Dewey’s.

Ernest Lindquist’s partnership in Fashion Clothes lasted until the mid to late 1940s when he sold out his interest in the company to Sam Goldman and retired. But that retirement at his lakeside home did not last long, and he got itchy to get back into business again. Lindquist had a friend, a tailor, who had a small made-to-order men’s suit business on E. Second Street about a block west from Jamestown High School. Ernest Lindquist bought him out, brought his two sons back into the business with him, and thus began Lindquist of Jamestown. It was in operation only as a men’s clothing store, featuring ready-to-wear suits and coats or made-to-order garments as well as other articles of men’s clothing and accessories, until the late 1960s. In my recollection, Ernest Lindquist, my late husband’s grandfather, owned both buildings that housed his businesses.

Thus, another success story of one of Jamestown’s Swedish immigrants—and Brooklyn Square claimed many such lucrative business ventures among its European population.