Martin Greenfield, 83, owner of Martin Greenfield Clothiers in Brooklyn, is of the mind set that there are no tailors in our society. According to him, it takes a six-year apprenticeship to acquire the proper skills, which most so-called tailors don’t have.

Greenfield, on the other hand, has been a tailor for more than 60 years, and he has passed along his knowledge and made suits for brands like Brooks Brothers and Rag & Bone.

“Everybody isn’t perfect,” he tells The Menswear Journal. “But yet I make them look like they’re all perfect.”

After suffering through the Holocaust in a concentration camp, Greenfield came to America in 1947 with help from his uncle and began work at GGG Clothes in Brooklyn. At the time, the location was home to more than 650 tailors. “I learned everything from this factory and I’m in it still now,” Greenfield says. “That’s how I became a tailor and be able to measure people.

“I worked for GGG for over 30 years because I liked what I was doing,” he continued. “I couldn’t speak the language when I started [as a floor boy], eventually I became in charge of the whole factory.” Greenfield opened his own company in 1977, located in the same building he’d been working in since taking up residency in New York.

From that moment, he became an important force in the menswear industry, constructing clothes for many different people, including Colin Powell and Bill Clinton.

Most menswear publications — GQDetailsEsquireValetAskMen and The New York Times, to name a few — recommend having a good tailor, but what makes a good tailor?

What Greenfield does is more than tailoring, however. It’s a mixture of personal shopping and garment construction. “I would know everything about you before I measured you. I would know if you’re hot, if you’re cold, if you travel… You always have to be in charge of your customer. A lot of them are color blind except at the traffic light.”

Lessons from a Tailor. Directed by Galen Summer from Ed David on Vimeo.


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