Canadian Fashion Connection – Lou Myles

Lou Myles in 2003, photo by Hans Deryk/ Toronto Star

Luigi Cocomile was born in 1928, a month after Joseph and Lucetta Cocomile (an itinerant shoemaker and his wife), immigrated from Calabria, Italy to Toronto, Canada. The family struggled financially and Luigi dropped out of school after grade 8, earning a living at a factory – or so his parents thought. Luigi’s first career was as a bookie and gambler, and he did well, until one night in 1956 when he lost every penny he had. Luigi turned to a more reputable career, which he found in the field of men’s fashion. He worked his way up at the Toronto men’s chain store Dunn’s, from salesman to assistant buyer to store manager. Then, on March 10, 1960, LuigiĀ opened his own menswear shop on Yonge street under his new name Lou Myles.

In 1962 Myles moved to 363 Yonge Street, and bought the building in 1964. He remained at the same location until the 1980s when he relocated to Yorkville. In the 1990s he again relocated, this time to Vaughan, in north Toronto.

Myles success was based on his use of fine Italian cloth, and his ability to slenderize his clients by the cut of his trousers and jacket. In 1968, Myles opened his own factory on the edge of Toronto where he employed 80 tailors and seamsters who made 250 suits per week to supply his shop as well as for retailers who carried the Lou Myles brand of ready-made suits. By the 1970s he had opened shops from Vancouver to New York, although he never advertised.

Myles’ client list included an impressive number of celebrities: Muhammad Ali, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Pierre Trudeau, Tony Bennett, Laurence Olivier, Dick Van Dyke, Paul Anka, Yogi Berra, Tony Curtis, Kobe Bryant, The Four Tops, The Beatles, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Boby Orr, Richard Harris, Telly Savalas (40 suits were made for his Kojak character), even the gangster John Gotti (who was reportedly buried in a Lou Myles suit.)

The company remains in business, although Luigi (Lou) passed away on July 9, 2015.

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.
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