by Karen Alberg Grossman


How does a century-old men’s suit company in Montreal grow to be the largest tailored clothing maker in North America?

Alvin Segal

In Alvin Segal’s inspiring autobiography My Peerless Story, this multi-talented entrepreneur describes how a smart curious young man with no formal education went to work at age 18 for his stepfather and, via hard work, curiosity, and learning to listen, built the largest men’s suit company in this hemisphere.

Eternally obsessed with machines, systems and how parts come together, Segal was always more comfortable in the factory than in an office. From Day 1, he was intensely curious about how things work and why things are done the way they are. His first job at the Peerless factory involved pairing top collars with felt undercollars. “In those days, the collar was the last part sewn onto the coat and it had to be altered by hand to fit properly,” Segal explains in his book. “If the collar doesn’t hug the neck properly, the finished coat doesn’t fit the way it should. We had lots of problems with collars early on, which caused production delays. This led me, years later, to introduce the engineered suit—a European innovation that made Peerless a global leader in its field.”

Intent on befriending all the foremen, operators, sourcing execs, designers and salesmen at Peerless, Segal soon learned the entire business “from the collar down”. That said, he credits his talented teams in both Montreal and NYC for the company’s success, giving special accolades to industry rainmaker Ronny Wurtzburger, the brilliant, personable and well-loved Peerless president for 30+ years who managed to acquire licenses to produce tailored clothing for virtually every top designer in the U.S. while managing to sell virtually every great store.

Alvin Segal is still widely respected as an industry leader and astute businessman, always at the forefront of policy-making in Canada’s apparel industry, and always a most generous philanthropist. The Peerless New York office is now headed by President Dan Orwig, VP Doug Raicek, Raffi Ajemian and a terrific crew; the talented team in Montreal is led by Claire Saad, Tony Nardi and Pat Caruso. Says Orwig, “Every day I continue to be amazed by our Peerless team. While each player has a particular niche, they choose to wear multiple hats, supporting and collaborating with each other for the long-term good of the company. Their 10, 20 and more years of tenure is remarkable.”

Mr. Segal clearly agrees: “It’s our All-Star team that makes all the difference!”

Hart Schaffner Marx: A Heritage Brand gets New Technology and a New Factory

Peerless president Dan Orwig couldn’t be more excited about the new HSM design portal recently launched with Dillards. “We felt there was no better partner with whom to launch the next generation of the Hart Schaffner Marx Made to Measure program than Dillard’s. With their strong special-order business, and their commitment to delivering “best in class” customer service, adding this new and innovative technology will only elevate the customer experience in their stores.”

HSM Design Portal

The HSM Design Portal takes the best of what the internet has to offer, hundreds of style options, and combines it with the expert tailoring you can get only in a brick and mortar store. Says Orwig, “The comfort of knowing how your garment is going to feel and fit, combined with the visualization of how it will look with all the customizations in this new portal, will be like no other. With a strong double digit increase during the initial roll-out this past season, the team at Dillard’s has given HSM the opportunity and support to grow this program and blend today’s technology with time-tested craftsmanship. What started out in 15 stores will now grow to 150 stores by the end of 2022. This is the commitment Dillards has made in this technology, knowing the potential it will have for growth in an expanding and competitive space.”

This HSM Design Portal will ultimately be available to better specialty stores; stay tuned!

On another note, Hart Schaffner Marx has recently moved production to the Hickey Freeman factory in Rochester NY, producer of fine canvas-make clothing for more than 120 years. This move ensures that Hart Schaffner Marx will continue its centenary history of producing top-quality clothing in North America.

Kenneth Cole: Core Essentials for Hybrid Dressing

Peerless Acquires the License for Kenneth Cole Sportswear

While Peerless continues to stay committed to its tailored clothing core, an opportunity to partner with Kenneth Cole on building a hybrid tailored sportswear collection was an offer they couldn’t refuse. Says Orwig, “We were excited by the aesthetic of the brand, a natural extension of our dress wear roots. With Kenneth’s vision, our team created an amazing Fall ‘22 collection that’s modern, polished and versatile…where style meets comfort. We focused on building the foundation of the collection with what we call core essentials for hybrid dressing: technical blazers and bombers, 5-pocket performance chinos and cargos, high performance wovens, tees and polos.” The launch collection will be available for August deliveries.

Concludes Orwig, “Leveraging our core competencies and setting the right foundation for the brand was the first step to building for the future. We’re excited to evolve our product offering to the market and see where this new path will lead.”

Supply Chain Expertise

With no shortage of supply chain challenges these past 18 months and headwinds in every direction, it’s more complex than ever to manage sourcing and production. Fortunately, Peerless counts supply chain management among its key strengths. As president Dan Orwig puts it, “Our top priority is to ensure we have the inventory needed to support our customers and keep up with the increased demand.

“As the leader in the tailored clothing space, we’ve always been proud of the ‘End to End’ solution we provide our customers: yarn and textile development, factory network, logistic strength and, very importantly, our advanced warehousing capabilities. Our strategy is to maximize our long-term supplier partnerships while diversifying regionally. Our team has done an amazing job navigating the global challenges by focusing on our strategy and adapting to each and every headwind. Led by our talented President of Global Sourcing Raffi Ajemian and our team in Montreal, we’re streamlining our buying process and focusing on nearshoring where ever possible. We’re running at full capacity around the world including our own state-of-the-art factory in Montreal. Bottom line: we’re doing everything in our power to ensure that beautiful goods are delivered on time to our retail partners.”