Hart Schaffner Marx

Hart Schaffner Marx, founded in 1887[1] and incorporated in 1911 as "Hart Schaffner & Marx", is an American manufacturer of tailored menswear. It is owned by the New York-based Authentic Brands Group. Hart Schaffner Marx is located in Chicago.

Hartmarx Corporation
IndustryConsumer Goods
Founded1887; 135 years ago (1887)
FounderHarry and Max Hart
Area served
United States
Key people
Homi B. Patel
(Chairman of the Board) (President) & (CEO)
ProductsTextile - Apparel Clothing
RevenueIncrease US$ 564.87 Million (2007)
Increase US$ 2.49 Million (2007)
Increase US$ -4.18 Million (2007)
Total assetsIncrease US$ 269.55 Million (2007)
Total equityIncrease US$ 228.04 Million (2007)
Number of employees
ParentAuthentic Brands Group


The company has roots dating back to 1887, when brothers Harry and Max Hart opened a small men's clothing store on Chicago's State Street,[2] called Harry Hart and Brother. In 1879, the Harts' brothers-in-law, Levi Abt and Marcus Marx, joined the partnership, which was renamed Hart, Abt and Marx.

Eight years later, Marx and Abt left the business and were replaced by a cousin, Joseph Schaffner (1848–1918),[3][4] and the firm was renamed Hart Schaffner & Marx. At the same time, however, the wholesale business began to grow, overtaking the retail operations. On the strength of wholesale production, Hart, Abt and Marx won contracts to produce clothing for the U.S. military. This introduced the partners to prefabricated off-the-rack clothing and marked their entry into the ready-to-wear suit trade.

In 1897, the company began running national advertisements for its products and began selling off-the-rack suits through a variety of distributors. Hart Schaffner & Marx commissioned well-known illustrators, such as John E. Sheridan, to paint pictures for style books and retail posters.[5] These ads portrayed the company's latest fashions in rich surroundings, establishing Hart Schaffner & Marx as a premium brand.

By 1906 the company had branched into sizes for men who were unusually tall, short, or overweight. Hart Schaffner & Marx thus became a mass-market brand, enabling virtually any man to have a fine quality suit at a lower price than a custom tailored suit.

In 1910, the company was targeted by the Chicago garment workers' strike, also known as the Hart, Schaffner, and Marx strike, which led to improved conditions for workers and the founding of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America.

Hart Schaffner & Marx advertisement by John E. Sheridan, 1919

On May 10, 1911, after years of steady growth, the partnership was incorporated. During World War I, the company introduced the first tropical worsted suits and the company's facilities were used for making uniforms.

In 1926, the company expanded retail operations by acquiring Wallach's, a large New York City-based clothing chain, followed by Chicago retail clothier Baskin the following year. The company again produced uniforms for the military during World War II.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the company continued to expand with the acquisition of clothing manufacturer Society Brand, a major manufacturing house in 1952; Hickey Freeman, a premier men's clothing brand and retailer of Rochester, New York, was acquired in 1964; Jaymar-Ruby and Kleinhans in 1967; and, in 1969, M. Wile manufacturer of Buffalo, New York. After these major acquisitions, an antitrust suit against the company led to a consent degree barring any further acquisitions, without court approval, for ten years.

A year before the agreement expired, the company acquired Intercontinental Apparel, U.S. licensee of the Pierre Cardin brand. After acquiring Bishop's men's shops, the company expanded into women's clothing, with the 1981 acquisition of the Country Miss chain. The Kuppenheimer Manufacturing Company, retailer of inexpensive suits with 41 retail outlets, was acquired in 1982, for $25.8 million. In 1983, the company changed its name to Hartmarx Corporation, with the new parent company acting as a holding company for various subsidiaries.

The company acquired Briar Neckwear in July 1985 and in December 1986 acquired the casual suit jacket manufacturer H. Ortisky. The following year Hart Schaffner & Marx took over the nine-store Detroit retail chain Anton's, and in 1988 purchased Boyd's, a small retail chain in St. Louis, and the Washington, D.C.-based upscale retailer Raleigh's. In February 1989 the company also added the Biltwell Company, a clothing manufacturer. By 1992, the company experienced continuing losses and divested itself of all retail outlets, except the Kuppenheimer chain. The company sold its 91-store Kuppenheimer unit and two tailored clothing factories in 1995.

The 1990s was a period of offshoring of production facilities to control costs. During that period, they closed ten domestic factories and shifted production to China, Mexico, and Costa Rica. Expansion continued in this period with the acquisition in late 1996, of bankrupt Plaid Clothing Group, Inc., a maker and marketer of men's tailored suits, sportcoats, and slacks; Pusser's Ltd., including the Pusser's of the West Indies line of nautical and tropical sportswear and outerwear in 1998; and in December 1998; Coppley, Noyes and Randall Limited, a leading Canadian maker of men's tailored clothing. In August of the following year, the company acquired Royal Shirt Company, a Canadian maker of women's and men's dress and sports shirts.

The label enjoyed considerable publicity during the 2008 Presidential campaign when then-Senator Barack Obama wore the brand extensively, including suits tailored especially for his acceptance speech and the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Address. Obama expressed a personal affinity for the brand, which is based in his hometown of Chicago.

The company and its United States subsidiaries filed for bankruptcy on January 23, 2009. At the time, the company said its Canadian and other non-U.S. affiliates had not sought bankruptcy protection.[6] Workers threatened to occupy Hartmarx's plant if the company's creditor, Wells Fargo Bank, attempted to lay off workers and liquidate the company's assets.[7] On June 22, 2009, Hartmarx Corp. received five bids for its assets in its bankruptcy proceedings. Bidders included Emerisque/SKNL North America, Affliction Clothing Co., Perry Ellis, and Versa Capital Management. In August 2009, Emerisque Brands UK and its partner SKNL North America completed their purchase of Hartmarx.

Hart Schaffner & Marx became the flagship brand of HMX Group, a holding company. HMX sold most of its assets to the New York-based Authentic Brands Group in 2012 for an undisclosed price following Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.[8]

During the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, the Hart Schaffner Marx plant in Des Plaines was closed with 300 furloughed workers. When it reopened, workers sewed thousands of masks for essential workers in Chicago and the public.[9]


The Hart Schaffner Marx premium brands dated back to the turn of the 20th Century and included Hart Schaffner & Marx and Hickey-Freeman, but it was not until one night in 1966 that branding became a significant factor in company growth. That evening, television host Johnny Carson walked on stage to deliver his nightly Tonight Show monologue wearing a turtleneck sweater and a collarless Nehru jacket. Because of the overwhelming popularity of the style, Hart Schaffner & Marx entered into an agreement to market a new casual line of suits under the Johnny Carson name and, later, under the premium Bobby Jones and Jack Nicklaus brands.

Hart Schaffner & Marx introduced the Austin Reed brand name during the 1960s. In 1974 the company rolled out a line of tailored clothing under the Christian Dior name, followed by Nino Cerruti, Allyn St. George, and Playboy. These new lines were created under contract to their designer namesakes and proved highly successful as fashion leaders. In 1979, Pierre Cardin was added to the distinguished list of designers. In the late 1990s, two new lines, Perry Ellis and Daniel Hechter, were introduced; the latter was positioned within the popular-priced segment and the former resided within the moderate sector. The Tommy Hilfiger line was also introduced as business casual wear. In 1996, with the acquisition of Plaid Clothing Group, Inc., brands including Burberry, Liz Claiborne, Evan-Picone, Palm Beach, and Brannoch were added to the Hartmarx stable.

In July 2016, David Hart debuted a capsule collection for Hart Schaffner Marx Men’s RTW Spring 2017 named Hart by Hart; the collection is made in the brand's Chicago factory.[10] The summer collection is inspired by Slim Aarons photographs of tropical locales including the Maldives, Provence and Corsica.[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "American Made". Hart Shaffner marx. Retrieved October 8, 2017.
  2. ^ hartschaffnermarx.com About
  3. ^ "Joseph Schaffner Is Dead". Daily Jewish Courier. 21 April 1918. (Joseph Schaffner married Sarah Halle in 1888.)
  4. ^ "Joseph Halle Schaffner Is Dead; Hart, Schaffner, Marx Director". NY Times. 11 August 1972. (Joseph Halle Schaffner was a nephew of the inventor and philanthropist Hiram Halle. Joseph Halle Schaffner's step-daughter Perugina Adler married a son of the famous surgeon Evarts Ambrose Graham.)
  5. ^ Price, Charles Matlack (1922). A Critical Study of the Development of the Poster in Continental Europe, England and America. G.W. Bricka. p. 200. For some years the group of men who made posters for this firm consisted of Edward Pennfield, John E. Sheridan, Leon Gordon, and F. Nelson Abbott
  6. ^ "Yahoo!". money.aol.com.
  7. ^ "Newswire | All Press Releases for 2009-05-11". Common Dreams.
  8. ^ Dawn McCarty and Michael Bathon, HMX Acquisition Files to Sell Assets to Authentic Brands Bloomberg, October 19, 2012
  9. ^ "Suburban suit maker pivots to sewing face masks for essential workers, general public". abc7chicago.com. ABC. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  10. ^ a b Aria Hughes, David Hart for Hart Schaffner Marx Men’s RTW Spring 2017 Women's Wear Daily July 14, 2016

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