‘The best-made suit’: Hickey Freeman fans flock to sale before line moves to Mexico
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The grand opening of Wednesday’s Hickey Freeman factory store was also a goodbye.
It’s the iconic line’s first sale in five years, but comes days ahead of its departure from Rochester, where it’s been manufactured since 1899.
Customers were eager to scoop up suits made in Rochester – in Rochester. Deals like $250 for a sport coat and $350 for a suit could be had. The sale ends at 2 p.m. Sunday. The store is located at South Union and Broad streets.
“I was introduced to Hickey Freeman by my stepfather over there, actually years back for my first prom suit, and, I mean, I just decided to add a couple more to the collection before they head out,” Carter Wendorff said.
The Hickey Freeman company – which operates out of a facility on North Clinton Avenue – lost the license to make the line. It will be manufactured in Mexico starting in June.
Clothing will still be made on North Clinton, but under a new name: Rochester Tailored Clothing.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen with the new line. I hope that it’s as good. I’m sure that it will be, but I’m not convinced that what ever they’re going to be making in Mexico will be as good as these are,” Terry Morris said.
He drove in from Syracuse to shop the sale.
“My father told me when I was a young man, the best-made suit you can buy is Hickey Freeman. After that, it’s custom-made,” he said.
For 124 years, talented hands cut and sewed and stitched quality menswear bearing the Hickey Freeman label. For the last 111 years, they’ve done so from the factory on North Clinton Avenue.
“Actually, I was telling my dad I was going to come here today and he told me my grandmother came over from Italy and she worked at the factory, so it’s pretty cool,” Mike Jiunta said.
Current Hickey Freeman workers will stay on at Rochester Tailored Clothing. The company says the only thing changing is the label.
It’s a label that’s meant quite a lot for more than a century.
“We’ve been coming to Hickey Freeman for a number of years. We would like to see it stay, but I guess, yeah, you know, if it’s our last chance to get them, we’ll obviously will want to get suits,” Sean Connolly said.
The North Clinton Business Association is happy the company is staying – and so are all of its jobs.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment for us because that’s the last thing we want to lose is jobs, and we don’t want to lose jobs in this area,” Albert Algarin, president.
Mercedes Vazquez Simmons, who represents the area in the Monroe County Legislature, said there will be an impact because customers will no longer shop at the North Clinton Avenue location. Instead, they’ll be directed to the factory store downtown.
“These are individuals that we’re probably will never see again in this community. Although there is great plans for this community, we can’t put a blind eye to the fact that we’re losing an iconic brand in this community, and again, we’ve seen a dozen-plus individuals [who] are coming into this community to buy suits that we may never see again in this community,” she said.