Pressing Questions

The Gilt MAN Q&A: Martin Greenfield

The President’s tailor on his favorite 'Boardwalk Empire' character, his latest collection for Gilt MAN, and the smartest fashion decision Ben Affleck ever made.
Photos: Michael Williams

Martin Greenfield, Legend.

What makes a Martin Greenfield suit special?
First, that it’s all handmade. When we make clothing, especially fitted clothing like you yourself wear, our tailored clothing moves with the body. I don’t think there is a company or tailor shop that makes the kind of clothing that we make, because we don’t just do the tailoring, but we apply current fashion to it. Take the wool topcoat in this sale—the way it’s fitted brings the greatest smile to me, just looking at the garment. Look at the balance, look at the fit on these models.

What are some other standouts in the sale?
The sportcoats, all the different fabrics, and the details like elbow patches and throat latches. You can button it if you want, you can tie it back if you don’t want to show it. It’s the most unbelievable look, coat after coat.

You’ve made suits for everyone from Dwight Eisenhower to Paul Newman to Bill Clinton. The Washington Post recently broke the news that you’ve made several visits to the White House to measure its current occupant. What’s President Obama like as a client?
Well, our policy is not to talk about our customers unless they mention us first, but I have been to the White House, and I will say that his suits look good.

Not going to argue with that. Though I’d like to see him break out of the same old charcoal and navy routine once in a while.
Who knows, maybe now that the election is over…

You’ve been doing this for decades­—
I’m 84 years old, but when I put on a suit I feel like I look very young.

That’s because you’re always keeping current. I remember the first suit you made me, you were telling me to go more modern, with a shorter jacket.
That is what my success is. I never sell somebody something unless I know what he’s going to wear and is he going to like it. Whatever he does he’ll have the right suit when I get through with him. That is the most important thing I do. When a customer puts it on, they look at the mirror, and they like what they see so much they want to continue looking at that mirror…


How does today’s customer differ from the customer in the ‘60s or ‘70s?
The Greenfield customer today has changed with the look. There was an era of oversized clothing, but today, with short jackets, with the narrow lapel, and the narrow shoulders, I think it’s a great look. What we’re doing together with Gilt is very current.

You and your team also make clothes for some major TV shows and movies, like Boardwalk Empire, Argo, and The Great Gatsby.
The clothes in Boardwalk Empire are amazing. I was born in ’28, and I remember my grandfather and father and how they dressed, and it was all tailored. The era for me was very easy. And we did the clothing for Ben Affleck in Argo. They told us yesterday that he kept the whole wardrobe for himself. He wouldn’t give it back.

Smart man. I’ll look for him on the red carpet wearing 70’s-inspired Greenfield. Do you have a favorite character to dress?
I like Nucky Thompson, Steve Buscemi. He’s such a nice guy, and such a great actor, and he insists on coming to the factory to try everything on. He loves the clothing. When they ask him what do you like best in the show, he says, “the wardrobe.”

They all love how they’re dressed, even before they get killed. Even the sheriff in in the uniform who got burned. When we made him four jackets for one scene, we know he’s not going to be in the show for long.

Rumor has it that’s how Michael Pitt learned that his character, Jimmy Darmody, wasn’t going to make it. When I come to pick up my next suit and find out you’ve made four, I’ll know I’m in trouble.
No, not you!

I take that back, I’d love four Martin Greenfield suits.
[Laughs] Well, by my count you already have more than that.

And, for more on the great Greenfield, don’t miss Ned Martel’s recent, amazing profile in The Washington Post. Oh, and here’s a video I did to mark our first collection. The factory hasn’t changed a bit since 2010, though I’m happy to report our logo has.

Gilt + Martin Greenfield from Gilt MAN on Vimeo.

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  1. Pingback: Introducing Martin Greenfield x Gilt MAN 2.0 | Gilt MANual

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