When you’ve got both Band of Outsiders designer Scott Sternberg and NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg on your client list, there’s no question that you’ve got some serious tailoring chops (and versatility). Such is the case for master tailor Martin Greenfield, whose Bushwick, Brooklyn-based shop has been churning out impeccably crafted clothing for politicians, designers, and other gents of discerning taste since he took the reins from his former employer, GGG Clothes, more than thirty years ago. But maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that the man behind the needle is a true believer in the power of looking your best, considering a shirt saved his life. No… really.
When he was a teen, Greenfield and his family were taken from their home in what was then Czechoslovakia and delivered to Auschwitz. He was put to work washing clothes in the camp’s alteration shop, and when he ripped the sleeve of an SS officer’s shirt, he was beaten and had the offending article thrown at him. Not one to let things end at that, the resourceful Greenfield kept, mended, and started wearing the shirt. He immediately received better treatment from the guards and other prisoners, and now credits the respect garnered from the garment for helping him survive an ordeal that many (including his family) did not.
After the war, he traveled to America in search of family, and in 1947 started working as a floor boy in the building he’d eventually own. Over the next three decades, his talent catapulted him upwards through the ranks, landing him the title of Vice President of Production before that fateful buyout in 1977. Since then, he’s seen his sons Jay and Tod joined the business, crafted suits for everyone from Bill Clinton and Nucky Thompson to Freeman’s Sporting Club and Rag & Bone (plus some lucky Gilt MAN customers), and seen his staff grow from a team of six to more than a hundred. But throughout it all, Greenfield’s commitment to exactingly wrought, hand-tailored suiting hasn’t budged one bit. Guess he’s just stubborn like that.
Shop Martin Greenfield on Gilt MAN this Monday, 12/19 at noon ET, and check out our own Tyler Thoreson’s visit to his factory last summer below.