The Classicist: Haspel's 100 Years in Style
2009 marks the 100th anniversary of a true American sartorial institution: Haspel, makers of the classic seersucker suit that has come to epitomize elegance in the summer months for dapper gentlemen from coast to coast. The company's history dates back to New Orleans in 1909 when haberdasher Joseph Haspel began making suits in lightweight fabrics, allowing men to remain dressed to the nines even in oppressive climes.
After passing out of family hands for nearly two decades and being allowed to stagnate somewhat, the brand is now being revived on the eve of its centenary by Joseph's great-granddaughter Laurie Haspel Aronson. She is giving the label a much-needed facelift, introducing new clothing lines and updating its storied styles while remaining true to her ancestor's values of maintaining an elegant appearance no matter the conditions.
It was those values married to quality workmanship and classic style that led to Haspel's being favored by the likes of presidents Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman and Franklin D. Roosevelt, as well as dapper movie stars like Humphrey Bogart, Gregory Peck, who wore Haspel seersucker in To Kill A Mockingbird (1962), and Cary Grant, who sported Haspel suits in Charade (1963), while becoming a staple of Ivy League style on college campuses everywhere.
Gallery: 100 Years of Haspel
While not abandoning those classics, Aronson has introduced innovations like the sporty new Outdoors collection (pictured at top) for fall, influenced by duck hunting, one of her favorite pastimes. In our experience, most clothing suitable for country pursuits usually lacks the requisite elegance for après-hunt activities, while those that are stylish sacrifice too much in the way of functionality. The well-tailored Outdoors collection, with its shooting patches, shotshell holders, game pockets, throat latches and leather-covered buttons is a perfect blend of both. Best of all, Haspel has always been, and continues to be, quite reasonably priced.
Aronson says new product lines including leathergoods, shoes, neckwear, dress shirts, accessories, women's clothing and even a home collection are now in the works. "In commemorating Haspel's 100th Anniversary, we are simply staying true to who we are, and always have been," she tells Luxist, "celebrating our accomplishments of the past 100 years while continuing to move forward."