Canadian Fashion Connection – Peerless

Peerless Clothes was founded in 1919 by brothers Moe and Phil Segal. In 1951, Alvin Segal joined his stepfather’s (Moe) business. At that time, the company employed almost every extended family member of the Segal family in either the cutting room, shipping department or office. The factory, however, was not considered as desirable a place to work.

Eventually rising to the top of the company, Alvin modernised the factory over the years to become North America’s largest suit manufacturer. When the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect in 1989, the company, with much lobbying and negotiating, became the largest manufacturer of tailored menswear for U.S. department stores.

Like most Canadian and American clothing manufacturers, the elimination of tariffs by the World Trade Organization has decimated the North American fashion industry over the past twenty years. Montreal used to have scores of clothing factories and now only boasts a handful. 

Peerless kept production in Canada until there was just too much pressure from the market for lower costs. In 2006 the company finally began to use offshore production. The company still manufactures a tenth of the 10 million suits domestically including licenses for the brands: Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Ryan Seacrest and John Varvatos.

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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