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Meet Albert Karoll of Richard Bennett Custom Tailors in Downtown – Loop

Today we’d like to introduce you to Albert Karoll.

Albert, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am a third generation Chicago haberdasher. My grandfather, Herb Karoll founded a chain of men’s stores – Karoll’s Red Hanger Shops – in the 1920’s which grew to a 14 store chain in its heyday. I was with the company just a few years when the 1980’s recession hit and we were forced to close.

Emerging from the experience, I took on the age-old craft of custom tailoring. Calling on customers in their homes and offices, the formula was simple: the finest, hand-made clothing for business and social occasions plus the convenience of shopping direct.

In 1988, Richard Bennett Custom Tailors – a landmark shop for custom-made business clothing in downtown Chicago since the 1950’s – was for sale and I acquired it: merging my direct sales business with the broader resources of retail-based trade. In the following years, we also acquired several other of Chicago’s best-known custom tailor shops – as their founders retired or passed on.

Today, Richard Bennett Custom Tailors stands as Chicago’s oldest and foremost genuine working tailor shop – still handcrafting garments of distinction in our own downtown store for the area’s most discrimination men and women.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The retail business is fraught with challenges on both micro and macro scales. Because every order is handmade to exacting detail – and customer expectation – every garment has to be carefully handled and supervised. We work hard every day to make clothing that fit right, looks great and wears well – and that’s no easy feat!

Richard Bennett Custom Tailors – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Because we are a working shop – with 6-8 European Master Tailors on hand every day, we are able to make and deliver garments that cannot be found anywhere else. Whether a client may be very hard to fit or looking for a style or color that ready-made retailers do not carry, we always strive to find the right item and make it perfect.

We are a small business of hard-working people – most of whom have immigrated and brought their “old-world” skills to America seeking a better life for themselves and their families. I am exceedingly proud every day that the work we do and our success supports 13 Chicago families and the opportunities that await them and their children.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
We have made and delivered a lot of great looking clothes for many clients: CEO’s, professional athletes, local celebrities – and “regular” joes. But one instance remains as my favorite:

A woman client contacted us – she had a very senior job but was unable to find professional clothing that fit her: she was a very plus size. Skeptical from years of frustrating shopping experiences, she meets and consulted with our sales and tailoring team and gave us the opportunity to make a few trousers for her.

Some weeks later when she returned for a fitting, we found her in tears after trying the pants on – they fit her so well and she was overwhelmed with relief and satisfaction. She thankfully cried: “I’ve NEVER had pants that fit me before!”

That is precisely why we work so hard for our clients.

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