One of the most talented designers in New York has finally begun to receive attention from the fashion world and it only took them 60 years.
Master tailor Martin Greenfield has been making suits in an East Williamsburg factory since 1947. Some of his previous clients include former President Bill Clinton and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Today Greenfield produces the suiting for the hit HBO series Boardwalk Empire as well as fashion labels like Band of Outsiders and Rag & Bone. He is now frequently described in men’s magazines like GQ as being the best tailor in America.
Greenfield, a Holocaust survivor, began working at the Brooklyn factory as a floor boy who spoke very little English. He now owns the company of 135 unionized employees who create 60 suits a day for either private clients or labels who seek him out for the unparalleled quality of work.
During New York Fashion Week this year, Greenfield, 83, set up shop in the Ace Hotel to measure and fit fashion industry heavyweights and long-time admirers who wanted a suit made by the master himself.
Downstairs in the hotel’s boardroom, guests found themselves at home with Greenfield’s staff, along with a few of the Ace’s other inhabitants. A representative from Stumptown Coffee was on hand to prepare cups of fresh pour-over coffee, and a tray of sandwiches and snacks from The Breslin kept those waiting for their measurements satisfied. A table lined with bottles of scotch was also set up for those being fitted later in the day.
The room was adorned with some of Greenfield’s previous designs, ranging from pea coats to tails, along with a few suit patterns from some of his very famous clientele. We were particularly in awe with Shaquille O’Neal’s pattern—his leg was nearly taller than Laura’s entire body, it seemed.
Books and books of Italian fabric swatches from Loro Piana were scattered about on tables. From lightweight linens to heavy wool, windowpane to bold stripe patterns, every conceivable option was available.
Greenfield joked around with clients as he measured them, his broad smile never leaving his face. He relayed stories about his business and how quickly styles change as his tape measure whipped around one man’s waist, all the while firing off numbers to his assistant who quickly jotted them down as he moved to the next measurement. The process was swift, but detailed, and the clients almost seemed sad to leave.
We felt the same way—we could have grabbed a cup of coffee and listened to his stories all day, but we eventually said our goodbyes. After giving me a firm handshake, Laura reached out to him as well, but instead of shaking her hand, he unabashedly pulled her in for a hug and planted a kiss on her forehead.
Greenfield’s old-fashioned mannerisms are apparent in his suiting too. His details are timeless, from the hand-stitched button holes to the rarely-seen ticket pockets—and timeless is just how I feel every time I proudly wear my Band of Outsiders’ suit made in Greenfield’s factory.
P.S. If you’re now craving your own suit (or still hunting for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for the gent in your life), this flannel Band of Outsiders’ design is a beautiful example of Greenfield’s talents, without the wait for one of his bespoke suits.