Mens Rigging….a tradition and an art

20 May

she loved that line.

Lets talk menswear…I mean real menswear, not the team jersey,visor cap variety. I’ve done mens rigging for longer than I care to remember. It started when I worked for Saks, the display director I worked under had little interest in menswear, he was always too busy dishing with the ladies fashion director. The two of them had taken over a luxurious fitting room in the Revellion fur salon, where they spent hours discussing “good taste” other people’s money and who did what to who in Palm Beach last season. I remember him telling me that mens needed “looking after” with that dismissive tone of  his, he was just a little too too for me. A character straight out of  “The Boys in the Band” [not that there is anything wrong with that] I was an art student hippie in those days, a product of the 60’s scene and he was sooooo 50’s. We didn’t really like each other, he considered me a means to his end, a servant to do his bidding, nothing more.

so fifties, Bonwits bag and poodle

That’s how my education in mens clothing display began. The dept. manager would pull the new goods  for me and off  I went to the alterations dept. to press and iron. I alway liked the tailors they were mostly Europeans, Italians, Portuguese or even a Greek or two. They taught me how to used the press and to always iron inside out. I remember spending hours dressing shirt forms and experimenting with how to pin ruffled the sleeves to show the cuff links. At that point I had no idea what it took to make the suits come alive,  the tailors taught me how to use sleeve pads and cuff blocks, that’s also where I learned to tie a Windsor knot and a real bow tie [God forbid we should use pre-tied bows] I realized that I liked rigging mens, it was an art that required practice and patience. I learned the hard way to be careful when placing the finished suit rigging on the top of the floor fixtures, make sure those neck blocks are secure! I still carry the forehead scars from the occasional falling block. I learned that in menswear it’s  about the product,  first and foremost.Men care little for the overly creative theme, tag lines or props [unless it’s cars, boats, guns or full-figured women] Men just want to see the suit, they care little about the icing one has to pile on women’s presentations. A dictum that I still maintain to this very day.

old school shirt display

I prefer working menswear. There still are rules in mens, a beautiful suit is timeless, whether two button or three, peak collar or notch, double-breasted or single. Ladies fashion is rarely about fine craftsmanship these days [unless it’s couture] and even that is becoming rare. Menswear is still about the fit and fabric and quality. To quote a favorite line from “Sunset Boulevard” Norma Desmond said [as she traced the fit of Joes new suit with her finger]  “turn around Joe, let me see the back, I love that line” she cooed…..what  else can I say?…… so do I.

Take a look at beautiful old school mens display…hit the link


8 Responses to “Mens Rigging….a tradition and an art”

  1. Ginger May 20, 2011 at 6:59 pm #

    This article brings back a lifetime of memories. I too loved my friends in alterations and it was back in the day when “lucia” could still smoke back there. I credit her for my skill in ironing. The comment about the neck blocks made me laugh. Most people have no idea how dangerous the world of fashion merchandising can be. Thanks for the walk down memory lane

    • vori52 May 20, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

      Thanks Ginger…I knew I was not the only one who has scars from the retail battle

  2. Anonymous May 29, 2011 at 2:46 am #

    So glad I came across this. I started my ” Display” career at Brooks Brothers in Boston, back in 87 and learned the true art of rigging a suit form. I even taught a couple of classes on the right way to rig a suit form. It truely is a lost ar,t but one I will never forget…It’s like riding a bike, once you know how, you never forget. Maybe some day Men’s true tailored retailers will see the beauty of a perfectly rigged suit and require them in there windows.
    Hmmm….? not likely.

  3. paul May 31, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    This does bring back memories of years ago……I received training in men’s rigging by an old pro named Lou Whitson, how to press the goods, postion and pin shirts, suits, sport coats, over coats, ties etc. At that time it was an art, and paid “big money” as Lou said. I remember being paid $200.00 for installation in a large window, $100.00 for smaller windows……this was when $100.00 was a large amount of money!
    I enjoyed every minute…….btw…… was called window trimming at the time!

    • vori52 September 17, 2011 at 7:14 pm #

      How well I remember that time as well…Thanks

  4. vori52 November 11, 2013 at 6:25 am #

    Reblogged this on retail fix and commented:

    An oldie but a goodie,thought I would post it again

  5. Kelly April 29, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

    I loved this! My education and beginner experience are in retail – however I am new to the world of men’s luxury apparel. My main concern being green to visual merchandising is form rigging men’s suits! Do you have any advice for a novice like myself? I certainly don’t want to embarrass myself at this new job!

    • vori52 April 29, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

      Less is More, let the garment speak for itself…Pinch the waist of the jacket, make sure the tie is flawless. Then adjust the spot light to hit the tie, the shirt and the lapel over to the breast pocket. Don’t forget the handkerchief….that’s all she wrote.

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