Cleveland Retail Commission
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Cleveland's History

Cleveland and New York.   Two American cities can claim a history as leading garment districts.  They are Cleveland and New York. The Cleveland Garment District began in The Flats area of Cleveland and soon established itself in what is now called the Warehouse District. In fact, the historic buildings of Cleveland's vibrant entertainment district owe their existence to the booming Cleveland apparel industry.  Joseph & Feiss was at 82 Superior.  They merged with Van Heusen in 1966 and were purchased by German firm Hugo Boss in 1989.  Richmond Brothers began in 1879 and became a manufacturer and retailer of men’s suits.  The H. Black Company produced WoolTex brand coats for women.  Bobbie Brooks was founded in the Bradley Building on W. 6th.  By 1870 Cleveland had a significant ready-to-wear industry that would last 100 years.  In 1910 nearly one in five Cleveland girls entered the sewing trades.  At its peak the Cleveland apparel industry was a
$50 million industry, a $1 billion industry in today's dollars.  In fact, 7% of all Clevelanders worked in the apparel industry.

The Cleveland Fashion Institute (CFI) was the forerunner to the Cleveland Retail Commission (CRC). 
The Cleveland Fashion Institute was founded in 1938 to meet the needs of the Cleveland Garment industry.  The organization was an economic catalyst for the development of garment manufacturing and retailing.  Their mission was to support and grow this important industry.  CFI used fashion shows and tours of retailers and manufacturers to showcase Cleveland's Garment District.  CFI leadership met with retail buyers and industry leaders throughout the United States.  They invited major market executives to Cleveland and created business for Cleveland's apparel industry.  CFI was formed with the help of the Cleveland Chamber
of Commerce.

White Sewing Machine Company came to the West Bank of the Flats from Massachusetts in 1866.  They soon expanded into a large factory, now converted lofts know as the Apartments at Nautica.  White came here during the industrial revolution as the garment industry in Cleveland took shape.  The Standard Sewing Machine Company was founded in Cleveland and was later purchased by Singer.  Along with Standard and White, the Star Shuttle, Leader, and Wilson sewing machine companies called Cleveland home.  Hat, coat or cloak, and wool manufacturers such as the Lion Knitting Mills and the Cleveland Worsted Mill Company became important additions to the Cleveland garment industry.  Federal Knitting was located in Ohio City
at W. 28th and Detroit. The Lion Knitting Mills became famous for their wool "Varsity” or “Award-Letter Sweater" and their "U.S. Navy Watchcap".  They began manufacture on Power Avenue, then moved to W
. 25th in Ohio City.  In the 1960's Lion switched from wool to cotton manufacturing and began producing cotton sweaters for such retailers as Brooks Brothers, Eddie Bauer, L.L. Bean, and Saks Fifth Avenue.  Lion brands included Arrow and Hathaway shirts.  The L.N. Gross Company was one of the first in the American garment industry to establish an "assembly-line" for the manufacture of apparel.  Their specialty was women's "shirtwaists".  These shirts offered women an affordable way to add variety to their suits.  They could mix and match these shirts with the existing suits in their wardrobe.  Other apparel companies included D. Black & Company, Klein, Lichtenstader & Company, Hart and Company, Printz-Biederman, the Dalton Company, Bamberger-Reinthal, Keller-Kohn, Lampl Knitwear, and Majestic Knitwear.

Today the White Sewing Machine Company is Viking-White Sewing located in Westlake.  Hugo Boss is in Brooklyn.  Vera Wang has an office in Akron.  Bonne Bell’s corporate headquarters is located in Lakewood
and retailer JoAnn Fabric and Craft Stores is in Hudson.  International Management Group (IMG), producers
of New York and Los Angeles fashion weeks, is headquartered in downtown Cleveland as is Fashion Week Cleveland, the nation's "educational fashion week".  And Schindler’s Fabrics has been on Lorain Avenue for over 70 years. 

Northeast Ohio is known for its vibrant community of fashion designers and top colleges of fashion design and merchandising.  The region is home to Kent State, one of the nation's top fashion schools, and a great many emerging American designers have been featured in Fashion Week Cleveland.  They include designer Tad Boetcher of Bill by Bill Blass and "tad b", Nary Manivong, whom Women's Wear Daily proclaimed a "designer to look for", designer Wendy Pepper of Bravo network's Project Runway, and design house MoMo Falana, whose collection was worn by Sarah Jessica Parker on Sex and the City. 

Manufacturing has become a part of Cleveland’s, and our country’s past, great new business opportunities for fashion design and education are taking shape.  A growing appreciation for the art of design has arrived.  Our region has the art institutions, schools, and design firms that lead many to believe that Cleveland has the potential to become a design center.  Cleveland’s future may be one of taking a leadership role in the combined fields of architectural, consumer, ergonomic, fashion, graphic, green, and industrial design.  Our destiny may be that of designing our own future. 

by Donald Shingler



Cleveland Garment Industry - Table 1
More than 500 firms contributed to the Cleveland apparel industry.  The district originally concentrated in what is now the Warehouse District from W. 9th to E.9th, between Lakeside and Superior Avenues, fanning outward, Southeast, in the direction of W. 55th and W. 65th, as the factories grew from 2-5 story brick buildings to large factories as the industry grew.

Warehouse District

 D. Black & Company – women’s cloaks

 635 W. Lakeside (Cloak Factory Building)

H. Black & Co. - women’s (WoolTex) suits and cloaks
1900 Superior, now the Tower Press Building

Hart and Company - women’s hats

1235 – 1239 W. 6th Street (85 Bank Street), now the Hat Factory Building

Joseph & Feiss Co. - men’s suits and shirts
Begins at 82 Superior Avenue
624 – 702 St. Clair (Joseph & Feiss Building)

1845:  Koch & Loeb clothing store  moves (from Pennsylvania) to 82 Superior.
1897:  Koch & Loeb begin the manufacture of clothing
1907:  Becomes a partnership of Isaac Joseph, Moritz Joseph, and Julius Feiss
1966:  Merges with Phillips – Van Heusen
1989:  Joseph & Feiss is purchased by Hugo Boss
Hugo Boss manufactures today at  their new plant at 4600 Tiedeman Road (Brooklyn, Ohio)

Klein, Lichtenstader & Company - menswear

1313 – 1317 W. 6th Street (Ace Shoe Company / Klein-Marks Building)

L.N. Gross - women’s wear

1200 – 1220 W. 3rd Street (now Lakeside Place)

Printz - Biederman Company - women’s wear
102 St. Clair (where the Justice Center now stands)|
1213 W. 6th (now 425 Lakeside Building)

1893:  Established by Moritz Printz, chief designer at D. Black & Company.

1903:  Moves to 1213 W. 6th  (then 71 Bank Street)

1922:  Printz - Biederman merges with H. Black & Co 

1934:  New plant built at between Euclid and Chester avenues

1954:  Purchased by Bobbie Brooks

1978:  Printz - Beiderman ceases operation

1982:  Bobbie Brooks files bankruptcy

Ritmore Sportswear (Bobbie Brooks) - women’s wear

1220 W. 6th Street (Bradley Building)

1939:  Marice Saltzman and Max Reiter establish Ritemore Sportswear (Bradley Bld.)

1953:  Saltzman buys out Reiter and the firm becomes Bobbie Brooks

1954:  Bobbie Brooks buys Printz – Biederman

1960’s Located near Perkins Avenue at 2230 Superior Avenue

1978:  Printz - Beiderman closes

1982:  Bobbie Brooks files for bankruptcy

1992:  Bobbie Brooks acquired by Robert H. Kanner of Pubco

Ohio City / Near West Side

Federal Knitting Mills – wool sweaters

2860 – 2882 Detroit Avenue, extending to W. 28th

Lion Knitting Mills - luxury sweaters and wool hats, men’s shirts

3256 W. 25th Street (near Myer Avenue)

Phoenix Dye Works – garment coloring

W. 150th Street

Platzner Knitting Mills – wool garment manufacturers
2811 – 2812 Vermont near W. 25th (Loeblein & Dietzel building)

Schindler’s Fabrics – Fabric retailer.
9933 Lorain Avenue.  Still there today.

Cleveland Flats

Standard Sewing Machine Company – sewing machines
1884:  Began making sewing machines in Cleveland, Ohio
1929:  Bought by the Singer Sewing Machine Company

White Sewing Machine Company – sewing machines, bicycles, cars, trucks
1866:  Moved to Canal Street in Cleveland from Massachusetts

1910:  then Elm Street in Cleveland’s Flats
1951:  Moved to new plant and offices in Lakewood, Ohio

2007:  Now Viking – White Sewing at 31000 Viking Way in Westlake


Bamberger - Reinthal
Kinsman at E. 61st

Cleveland Worsted Mill Company
6114 Broadway near E. 55th

Worsted wool manufacturer

Dalton Company

E. 66th and Euclid

Ohio Knitting Mill (Stone Knitting Mill) – men’s and women’s sweaters
Perkins near E. 61st Street

Richmond Brothers Company – men’s suits

E. 55th Street
Note:  unique business model in which they created their own chain of retail stores, exclusively selling the suits that they manufactured; thereby functioning as both a manufacturer and a retailer


 Keller - Kohn – women’s cloaks
Woodland Avenue in Glenville.

Lampl Knitwear Company
– women’s sweaters

Majestic Knitwear – women’s sweaters and sweater vests


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