FROM OUR FEBRUARY ISSUE: “A TAILOR-MADE MAN” BY NICK HILTON
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A newly published book by Nick Hilton, son of the late legendary clothing maker Norman Hilton, has captivated me to the point that I can’t review it: it’s just too good (and it makes me cry!). Yes, it gives profound insight into the men’s clothing industry, but more than that, it’s about how to find one’s rightful place in the universe and how family dynamics can seriously screw us up. Instead of me struggling to summarize, I give you the author with some thoughts.
“There’s lots of stuff in the book about business and families that’s meant to teach, and lots of amusing stories and characters meant to entertain. But the heart of it is that life is like being given the gift of an instrument and the responsibility to play it as well as we can. Overcoming wrong thinking, eliminating destructive habits, finding a spiritual path is the way to find one’s right place in life, a place you can know only once you’ve arrived there…
“The behavior of our parents that nurtures and instructs us, we tend to mimic; the way they behave which confuses, embarrasses, or hurts us we do the opposite of, even if detrimental. My father was really smart, with impeccable taste and marketing savvy. I learned a lot from him about what to do, and what not to…
“When I came into the clothing business, the Ivy League look in menswear, for which my father’s brand was iconic, was about to be displaced by a new ‘fashion.’ The retailers who resisted that change soon failed, while those who embraced it thrived. The typical ‘traditional’ retailer, who had built a business on soft-shoulder suits and Shetland sweaters, complained about the new way people dressed and had no idea how to recreate themselves.
“Perhaps the key lesson I’ve learned is the truth of the French saying Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The trick in our business is to stay alert to the emerging trends and interpret them in a way that appeals to your existing customer. Go too far too fast and you alienate him; too slow and you lose him to the fashion stores. Only a small percentage of men are interested in dressing well; marketing to the general public might work for Amazon, but we can address only our small audience—often only their wives or partners. The audience is unique to every locale.
“Dressing well is an indication of an individual’s respect for himself, for his work and/ or social environment, and for the people he associates with. We live in a disrespectful, iconoclastic, resentful age, and the culture created by the mass media and reflected in the social sphere makes it easy, acceptable even, to dress like a slob. One is tempted to suggest the organization of an industry-wide public relations effort among designers, retailers, manufacturers, and the media to pool resources to speak with one voice. But I’m skeptical that we could find a consensus as to what dressing well should look like, which is the source of the problem. So, one man at a time….”
Editor’s note: The book is available on Amazon; Nick Hilton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3 Replies to “FROM OUR FEBRUARY ISSUE: “A TAILOR-MADE MAN” BY NICK HILTON”
Bravo 👏 Very well said. Beautiful sentiment and statement all should pay attention to.
I still have a note you wrote me years ago. Good on you, Nick!
Congratulations on this article and your wonderful store. I ordered your book and plan on reading it next weekend. I look forward to what my possible future looks like.
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