"Our goal has never been to be the biggest, only the best."
Paul Stuart is a men's and women's clothing store in the United States. Founded in 1938 in New York City, New York, USA, by haberdasher Ralph Ostrove, who named the company after his son Paul Stuart Ostrove. This retailer has remained a privately-held family business.
Paul Stuart is often compared to Brooks Brothers and known for its traditional suits and colorful accessories.
Today, the company operates additional locations in Chicago, Seoul, South Korea and throughout Japan. The original New York location is still located at the corner of Madison Avenue and 45th Street. It has grown to 60,000 square feet (5,600 m2) and remains the company's largest store.
In the Fall of 2008, Paul Stuart relocated their store in Chicago from the John Hancock Center on Michigan Avenue to Oak Street. Paul Stuart's Oak Street location is known as "The Townhouse", supposedly for its more "intimate" environment. In the Spring of 2011, Paul Stuart opened a second Chicago location in The Loop at the corner of LaSalle Street and Adams Street in the historic Continental and Commercial National Bank building.
In the Fall of 2007, Paul Stuart launched Phineas Cole, the first new brand in the luxury clothier’s 70-year history.
In the Spring of 2009 Paul Stuart opened a 700-square-foot (65 m2) Phineas Cole shop-in-shop at the front corner of the flagship Madison Avenue store.
In Memoriam ...
By WILLIAM GRIMES
Published: May 26, 2010 in The New York Times
Clifford Grodd, who brought a subtle flair to classic men’s wear as the president and chief executive of the private-label retailer Paul Stuart, died on Tuesday at his home in Manhattan. He was 86.
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Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Clifford Grodd in Paul Stuart’s Madison Avenue store in 2000.
The death was confirmed by Michael Stone, his son-in-law.
When Mr. Grodd began working at Paul Stuart in 1951, the store, at 45th Street and Madison Avenue, was regarded as a budget alternative to Brooks Brothers, the temple of East Coast establishment men’s fashion.
Under Mr. Grodd’s direction, Paul Stuart concentrated on selling its own label and made inroads on its chief competitor by developing a style that one fashion writer called a blend of “Savile Row, Connecticut living and the concrete canyons of New York.”
The Paul Stuart look won a devoted following among American executives — Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York is a longtime customer — and a long list of celebrities that included Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra and Paul Newman.
“Fashion is peripheral to us,” Mr. Grodd told The New York Times in 1978. “Our clothes are our own thing — classic and traditional without a style but with an attitude, perhaps a dash of salt.”
Mr. Grodd is credited with popularizing the deconstructed jacket without a lining and the chambray dress shirt. He championed the two-button suit and, regardless of the ebb and flow of fashion, kept faith with the bow tie. He also committed the store, which originally carried other designers, to selling only its own labels.
“I felt that if we didn’t know our customer better than someone sitting 1,000 miles away, then we didn’t belong in the business,” he told The Daily News Record, a fashion publication, in 1998. “When you put your own name on it, it’s your signature, and I just didn’t want anyone else’s signature on this operation.”
Closely involved in all phases of the business — he designed the Paul Stuart logo of Dink Stover sitting on the Yale fence — Mr. Grodd personally supervised every detail of clothing design, marketing and advertising.
Under Mr. Grodd, Paul Stuart became one of the first retailers to open stores in Japan when it struck a licensing deal with Mitsui in the 1970s. There are now three stand-alone stores in Japan and 70 “in-shop” stores, as well as a store in Seoul, South Korea. In 1995, Mr. Grodd opened a second American store in Chicago. American customers outside New York and Chicago must order through the Paul Stuart catalog or Web site.
“He was the last of the Mohicans, the last retailer in this country to run a private-label business,” said the designer Alan Flusser. “He micromanaged that business from the minute it opened to the minute it closed. He was also the physical embodiment of the look of the store, which completely reflected his personal vision.”
Clifford Grodd was born on April 27, 1924, in New Haven, where his father was a roofer, and he absorbed the vocabulary of preppy style while working as a caddie on local golf courses.
He enlisted in the Army Air Corps and saw combat as a tail gunner during World War II. He was shot down over Hungary in 1944 and spent the remainder of the war in a prison camp near Munich. He made nine escape attempts, but gained his freedom only when the camp was liberated in 1945. He was awarded the Purple Heart.
After returning to the United States, he resumed his studies at the University of Connecticut, begun before the war. He graduated in 1948 with a degree in marketing.
In 1946 he married Barbara Ostrove, whose father, Ralph, had founded Paul Stuart in 1938, naming it after his son, Paul Stuart Ostrove. She survives him, as does a brother, Arthur, of Westhampton, N.Y.; two children, James and Patricia, both of Manhattan; and two grandchildren.
After graduating, he enrolled in the executive training program at G. Fox, a landmark Hartford department store, where he was assistant manager of the sportswear department when he joined Paul Stuart. He became president and chief executive of the company in 1955, a position he held until his death.
Mr. Grodd made a point of emphasizing Paul Stuart’s commitment to continuity and resistance to trends, but in 2007 the store introduced the first new label in its history, Phineas Cole. Named for a fictitious “errant nephew” of Paul Stuart, it made its appeal to younger men with bold patterns and a slim silhouette.
The style was fashion forward — within limits.
“I abhor dullness and resist flamboyance,” Mr. Grodd told The New York Times in 1985. “That’s a hard line to walk — to be distinctive, subtle, disciplined, with a sense of humor.”