Brothers Ken and Jim Giddon have reinvented the concept of the legendary discount store created by their grandfather, Harry Rothman, in the form of this modern haberdashery.
Stores are picking different days to participate in the city's phase one of reopening the economy; others will wait for phase two to resume operations.
As many as 400,000 people may return to work on Monday in a city still recovering from the pandemic and roiled by protests.
Actor and model Eric Rutherford joined Nobis clothing line co-founders Robin Yates and Kevin Au-Yeung in celebration of the Nobis pop-up shop at Rothmans in NYC.
As Father’s Day approaches, who better to feature in our Visionaries series than the owners of a successful family business? Ken and Jim Giddon are the brothers behind Rothmans, the independent menswear boutique that operates in NYC, Scarsdale, and Bronxville. In addition to being proud dads (Ken is father to 26-year-old twins Kyle and Amanda, plus 21-year-old Will; Jim has 18-year-old Alexandra and 17-year-old Brooke), the brothers successfully reinvented their grandfather’s discount store, which first opened in 1926 on Union Square from a pushcart on the Lower East Side.
When Ken arrived in New York from Boston in 1986 to help liquidate his grandfather Harry Rothman’s store, he did a 180 and decided to reopen it in a different location. Jim came on board and the two continued Rothmans’ evolution, transforming it into the place for men to buy a suit in NYC. Today, the Manhattan store is housed in a handsome early 20th century building on 18th Street and Park Avenue South. Along with the suits, you’ll also find casualwear and sportswear from an array of labels, and a regular in-store pop-up, which has included the ZACHARY PRELL collection.
We met the brothers at their NYC store to talk style, running a family business, and favorite Father’s Day gifts.
Pop-ups have been very, very good for Rothmans.
A rotating series of events has proven to be a successful strategy for the New York City-based men’s specialty store as it works to differentiate itself from its competitors while also offering customers something new. In the past, the store has featured Peter Millar, David Donahue and Psycho Bunny in its pop-up space.
The latest iteration was with Selected Homme, a Danish brand with limited distribution in the U.S. The label is owned by Bestseller, a family-owned company from Copenhagen that has more than 20 fashion brands including Jack & Jones, Pieces and Vero Moda.
Rafal Damgaard, international sales manager for Selected Homme, said he believes the European sensibility of the brand brings “something unique to the market from a Nordic point of view.”
Although Selected Homme is 20 years old, it’s just now entering the U.S. with some online presence at Nordstrom as well as Rothmans and about 15 other specialty retailers, he said.
Ken Giddon, president of Rothmans, said the limited exposure of the label is one of the primary reasons he was attracted to the brand. “They offer a minimalistic, contemporary look that is extraordinarily well-priced,” he said. “It’s very similar to a lot of brands we have in the store at half the price.” For instance, a T-shirt is $45, both wovens and shoes are below $100 and a black windowpane suit retailed in the low $300s.
“I think they’re going to do very well here,” Giddon said.
The event was hosted by Tan France of “Queer Eye,” and drew “Instinct” and “The Good Wife” actor Alan Cumming. Timo Weiland played DJ and Basil Hayden’s and Heineken provided drinks.
As a company, New York-based David Donahue has come a long way since its beginnings in 1972 as a maker of men’s jewelry. To show both existing and new customers just how much progress has been made in the past 45 years, the company will be hosting a month-long pop-up shop at Rothmans in Union Square, beginning with a swanky kickoff party on Thursday, October 19 – complete with appearances by former NHL players and NBC Sportscasters (and brand ambassadors) Anson Carter and Brian Boucher.
“I know all we did was jewelry for the first 31 years, and then 14 years ago, we moved on to dress shirts and furnishings. But to this day, we are still known by many people just for our cufflinks, which is now a tiny part of our business,” says Rob Donohue. “So having this shop at Rothmans, which is already an existing retail customer of ours, is an opportunity to show people that the brand has a much greater depth that they might be aware of.”
What that means specifically is that Rothmans shoppers will get the chance to view and purchase a much-expanded selection of offerings. “We’re bringing in everything from sportswear to outerwear so we can change our perception with the public and the industry,” adds Donohue. “We have added five-pocket denim and corduroy pants, more knit shirts, shirt jackets in a Loro Piana storm system, printed shirts, and so many other things we’ve never done before.”
Adds Rothmans co-owner Ken Giddon: “We are very excited about the David Donahue pop-up. Like many other stores, we have had great success with their dress shirts and furnishings. Frankly, though, we had overlooked the tremendous strides they had made in so many other sportswear and tailored clothing categories. To remedy this, in the last couple of years we have added their sport shirts, suits, sportcoats and tuxedos to our mix. This pop-up gives us the opportunity to really showcase the entire David Donahue Collection, and we are sure that our customers will be thrilled to have it.”
Since this is Donahue’s first pop-up store, he wants to make sure every detail is right. All the shelving and fixtures are being made in the company’s warehouse, where they are also building a mock-up in advance of the event. “Let’s say I am trying to take any chaos out of this event,” says Donohue with a laugh.
Once the pop-up is open, Donohue and his staff will be at Rothmans on a daily basis. And should the store run out of an item, there’s no cause for alarm. “We can be in the store from our warehouse in Secaucus, New Jersey in 22 minutes; so if we sell-through something, we can feed the store as often as we need to,” he notes. “We often have to re-stock our shirts there three times a week.”
It might appear that the pop-up is a test-run for a standalone David Donahue store, but that might have to wait. “The jury is out on having our own store, although it would be wonderful to have a permanent destination,” says Donohue.
“It’s not because I think I retail is as difficult as people say; in fact, I do believe that if you offer a great product that is priced reasonably, people will not only buy it, they will buy it at a brick-and-mortar store,” he adds. “But right now, we’re building a new showroom in New York City at 1407 Broadway, which will have slightly more than twice our current space, and we’re also building a new warehouse. So, as far as a store goes, I don’t know if I want to add it to my to-do list right this second.”
No need to trek to Manhattan to find the hottest trends for men. harry: A Rothmans Project opened a storefront in Bronxville last year. The shop serves as a platform for popular men’s store Rothmans to experiment and innovate with new brands, categories, and unique retail experiences. “It’s our laboratory,” says Rothmans CEO Ken Giddon. “We keep it small and nimble purposely, unlike our flagship in Union Square.” The merchandise at harry’s changes continually, and while the shop stocks familiar brands, like J Brand and Corneliani of Italy, it also carries more esoteric labels, like Nifty Genius and Culturata. Prices range from $20 for a New York Giants key fob to $1,000 for a Corneliani blazer made in Italy, but most items from brands such as Ted Baker, Mizzen & Main, and Penguin are in the $75 to $125 range.
harry: A Rothmans Project
60 Pondfield Rd, Bronxville; 914.779.1802