Saturday, September 25, 2021

In St. Paul’s Heimie’s Haberdashery, through the story of tailoring

Anthony Andler of Heimie’s Haberdashery wants it to be more than just a store. For him, it may become a cultural touchstone shaped by Romanticism in the early 1900s, a scene in the church of St. Paul where his great-grandfather lived.

This high-end menswear store has been located in downtown Sao Paulo since 2007. It is a one-stop shop selling jackets, suits, trousers, sweaters and fedoras; it provides in-store shoe shine, steam ironing and other services; and provides Own barbershop.

Paul Dotson, a six-year customer who bought suits and casual clothes at this store, said that this is a place to enjoy special services. His son-in-law recently put on and remodeled a suit within 48 hours, which Dotson called the “best material”.

The decoration and design of the haberdashery pays tribute to the culture and art of the early 1900s that Andler tried to bring back.

“I put myself in the times. When things are handmade, the wooden cabinet is made in a certain way. It has personality, grace, and story; it has history. It has energy,” he said.

Andler’s film and theater background made him value the characterization and stage design in the store.

“I think this business is just an extension of my performance. This is a stage setting,” he said. “This is a true reflection of my heart.”

Talk easily in a beautiful environment

In 2019, Andler expanded the store in the historic Hamm Building on St. Peter Street to 10,000 square feet, adding space for the barista, cafe, shotgun library, and groom’s lounge. Soon after, he added a smoking terrace where customers can smoke cigars.

“It’s part of being a person, drinking a delicious cappuccino and a little dessert, hanging out with friends, laughing, and then blending into the environment. The environment is very important for us to tell stories,” he said.

He said that Dotson likes to go to haberdashery and have a relaxed conversation in a comfortable environment.

“When we were all working in the office, I was in downtown São Paulo, and I usually go there at least once a week, just to have a cup of coffee or soda, and blow the breeze with him,” Dotson said. “I know it’s old fashioned, but it’s a good place.”

For Andler, it doesn’t stop there. He hopes that the haberdashery can inspire the creativity of other playwrights and writers, so he hopes to start a filmmaker’s night or reading activities. He also plans to host themed performances on Friday and Saturday nights to attract crowds to downtown São Paulo.

“I hope this store is not just about clothing. I want to perfect the edge and make a real commitment to the community,” Andler said. “I always hope that it is more than just a clothing store.”

Immigration background

Anthony Andler, owner of Heimie’s Haberdashery, takes photos of the recently remodeled part of his iconic downtown Sao Paulo store on Tuesday, August 24, 2021. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

As the great-grandson of a Russian Jewish tailor and clothing retailer who immigrated to the United States in 1917, Andler learned to appreciate the struggles of immigrants. In 1921, his great-grandfather Heimie Andler opened a tailor shop in Lower Sao Paulo and moved to Robert Street in 1947.

He said that this immigration story is important to Andler because it reflects an era when Russian Jews must be good at what the communities they enter require, treating their skills as a kind of “currency.”

“Jews came to the United States and they were told:’You can do something. You can be a tailor or a scavenger; this is acceptable,'” he said. “They learned that clothing is money. That is their currency. They sell clothes to make money, and they have become some of the best merchants and some of the best retailers.”

He said that Andler had been an apprentice under the guidance of his grandfather, and he always imagined what it would be like if he took his business further.

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“This reflects what I think it might or should be. When I grow up, iron my clothes, look at my grandpa, and listen, I’m doing business, and I always imagined there will be more,” he said. “I just added more.”

Visiting a tailor becomes an experience

Today, Andler still has some of his grandfather’s customers coming in, many of whom still exist in the ancient culture, where visiting a tailor becomes an experience.

In St. Paul's Heimie's Haberdashery, through the story of tailoring
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