by Karen Alberg Grossman
Mitch Gambert

Family businesses are never easy, as the Gamberts, third-generation custom shirt makers, will testify. As Mitch Gambert explains it, “My grandfather founded his custom shirt business in 1933 but my cousin Skip and I ended up competitors with separate businesses. I’d describe our relationship over the years as cordial. Lukewarm.”

And then came the pandemic. “Beginning with the shutdowns in March 2020, we started talking. Skip’s building was sold and was facing demolition. We knew the pandemic would wreak havoc on both businesses and why should two Gamberts go down when there’d be more gas in the tank if we merged. So, we bounced around ideas and developed a strategy. Skip ran a successful business for many years and had wonderful suggestions. Best of all, we developed an amazing relationship.”

Bottom line: Skip (65) is now officially retired and Mitch (47) is running the combined companies, with a little help from his parents, Mel and Lorraine Gambert. “They’re both actively involved in the day-to-day business here. Even though I’m trying to kick them out, they keep coming back!”

The newly merged custom/made-to-measure shirt business has more than 300 retail accounts. Says Mitch, “We stock more than 1500 fabrics, from basic cottons to flannels to patterns with skulls and crossbones (that keep selling!) We have an unrivaled sport shirt collection and we also do private RTW production for brands and small production runs for private label. The custom shirt business is more relevant than ever for two main reasons: for retailers, there’s no inventory; for guys, they still need to look good on Zoom, even if they’re wearing track shorts with their custom shirts.”

Mitch notes that the business (based in Newark, New Jersey) is now 65-70 percent sport shirts, many of which are statement pieces (florals, bold checks, brushed melange fabrics) vs. 30-35 percent dress shirts, mostly blues and whites. Wholesale prices range from $70-$200 and shirts can be ordered with either a Mel Gambert or store label. During the imposed shutdown, Mitch was able to reopen with 20 operators making masks, which has evolved into a sizable business in itself.

Men buy custom shirts for four reasons, Mitch explains. “They want an exact fit, they want customized details (a button-down collar with French cuffs), they want specific fabrics or fancy buttons, they want to correct imperfections like a low shoulder. We have retailers who designate 300 square feet in a 3,000 square-foot store and do tremendous volume. With custom, you never have to say no.”


    1. What an amazing article on an amazing family business into which i was born and which has been a big part of my life.
      Well done Dad, mom and Mitch to your success and a huge thank you to MR for this feature article.

    1. So truly happy to hear you’re doing well! I’ve seen you in action at Shaia’s during a trunk show and you’re terrific!
      Best regards,

  1. Mitch, is just a great guy and just a chip off the block. His family is one of the most trusted shirt makers in the country. Not only that but they are NICE people.

    Good for you Mitch. Well deserved!


  2. Mitch, Mel and Lorraine, have an amazing team and make the coolest shirtings in our industry with distinctive fabrics and buttons that more than satisfy their customers and retailers specific needs. Family history, spot on fashion and the finest quality materials will continue their resounding success well into our future. Congratulation!! You guys Rock!!!

  3. Congratulations Mitch. Coming from the point of view of a competitor, Gambert is one of the classiest operations in the industry. Mitch, Mel and Lorraine set a high bar for all custom shirt competitors…and couldn’t be nicer people.

  4. Congratulations Mitch,

    I’m happy for you and your family to have looked into the future rather than hold onto a difficult past.
    It’s great to hear that custom made is still alive and thriving in NJ.
    Hopefully your still offering custom monograms, but; probably no longer any hand stitched.

    Best luck for a bright future
    Dean Gannet

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