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I recently acquired a wonderful topcoat at one of the local thrift stores here in Stevens Point, Wisc. It is an exquisitely-tailored single-breasted, three-button flannel coat, in a winter-weight wool fabric with a very muted blue plaid on charcoal ground and without any flaws other than a missing left sleeve button (there is supposed to be just one button on each sleeve). And I was pleased to discover that it fit me perfectly! My cost: $39.00. I have rarely found clothing of this quality at such a price in a thrift shop. There is a beautifully-made label inside which states the following:


Kapson's of Chicago, Custom Tailors, Designed by Leslie, 3253 W 26th St.


I have searched the web for information on this shop, but found absolutely nothing. The property at the address now appears to be vacant. Does the name of this firm ring a bell for anyone on this forum? Particularly those with a Chicago connection? Thanks in advance for any help you might be able to provide.
 

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I recently acquired a wonderful topcoat at one of the local thrift stores here in Stevens Point, Wisc. It is an exquisitely-tailored single-breasted, three-button flannel coat, in a winter-weight wool fabric with a very muted blue plaid on charcoal ground and without any flaws other than a missing left sleeve button (there is supposed to be just one button on each sleeve). And I was pleased to discover that it fit me perfectly! My cost: $39.00. I have rarely found clothing of this quality at such a price in a thrift shop. There is a beautifully-made label inside which states the following:

Kapson's of Chicago, Custom Tailors, Designed by Leslie, 3253 W 26th St.

I have searched the web for information on this shop, but found absolutely nothing. The property at the address now appears to be vacant. Does the name of this firm ring a bell for anyone on this forum? Particularly those with a Chicago connection? Thanks in advance for any help you might be able to provide.
At one time (long before the days of the internet), there were a number of small shops in Chicago but most have disappeared. I suspect most of their work was the result of word of mouth rather than significant advertising.

On a separate note, next time I'm in Stevens Point, I'll have to check out the local thrift stores. That sounds like a great find.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
At one time (long before the days of the internet), there were a number of small shops in Chicago but most have disappeared. I suspect most of their work was the result of word of mouth rather than significant advertising.

On a separate note, next time I'm in Stevens Point, I'll have to check out the local thrift stores. That sounds like a great find.
Thanks heaps, FiscalDean. As for Stevens Point thrift stores, it's not often that one finds very much of interest, but every once in a while something rare and unusual turns up. This is a small college town, but perhaps because it has professors (like myself, although I am now retired) it does tend to get some interesting items. I have much better luck on eBay, and also when I am in Boston where both J Press and the Andover Shop are favourite places for me to visit and buy Trad clothing.
 

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Thanks heaps, FiscalDean. As for Stevens Point thrift stores, it's not often that one finds very much of interest, but every once in a while something rare and unusual turns up. This is a small college town, but perhaps because it has professors (like myself, although I am now retired) it does tend to get some interesting items. I have much better luck on eBay, and also when I am in Boston where both J Press and the Andover Shop are favourite places for me to visit and buy Trad clothing.
I'm very familiar with Stevens Point, I grew up in Pittsville. My mother frequented the thrift shops in both Wisconsin Rapids and Marshfield. She often found some very nice women's clothing. I suspect a lot of items she thrifted were donated by physicians / physicians wives.
 

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I spent many years in Chicago in the retail and wholesale clothing business. The name Kapson's is unknown to me, but I knew a gentleman who had a very nice store on 26th St; J. Cizek and Son. The "son" actually opened his own store that was very soft-shoulder traditional, but in a wealthy suburb of Chicago. That is where I worked.
The Ivy League trade would not likely have shopped on 26th St. Kapson's would have made their way most likely in the forties and fifties catering to successful clients that were looking for custom tailored quality. Your coat might be a bit older than you imagined. That area was settled by eastern European immigrants. My friend Jim Cizek was Czech.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I spent many years in Chicago in the retail and wholesale clothing business. The name Kapson's is unknown to me, but I knew a gentleman who had a very nice store on 26th St; J. Cizek and Son. The "son" actually opened his own store that was very soft-shoulder traditional, but in a wealthy suburb of Chicago. That is where I worked.
The Ivy League trade would not likely have shopped on 26th St. Kapson's would have made their way most likely in the forties and fifties catering to successful clients that were looking for custom tailored quality. Your coat might be a bit older than you imagined. That area was settled by eastern European immigrants. My friend Jim Cizek was Czech.
Thank you for this information. The coat could indeed be a bit older than the usual timeline for Trad clothing. It's just that it is so well-preserved, so I thought it might be dated to the sixties. The collar is slightly smaller than is customary for a topcoat of the sixties.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'd like to see a photo of this very nice sounding topcoat, plus the Kapson's label. An interior union label, if present, could help date your coat.
I will do my best to take a picture or two and post them. I am not plugged into the cell phone/smart phone grid (by choice), so I will need to take pictures with a camera and then transfer that to my computer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Here are a couple of photos of the Kapson's topcoat. I took some pictures of the label, and this is the clearest I could get. Sorry, I'm not much of a photographer, and the jacket looks better in reality than my pictures! The first picture is the coat, the second the label and the third, the inside of the coat in a different plaid (red color, partially).

Here are the details from the Union Label (diamond-shaped, some of which were partially obscured, but decoded with the help of other labels pictured on the net
(Being a serious philatelist, I had a powerful magnifying glass and an Ott Light I could use to decode the date):

529747 (serial number is in red to one side of the label)
Issued by authority of Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America
Union Made Garment
Executive Board
Series GGN Copyright 1949

So gamma68 was right, the union label does help to date this coat -- to 1949, I should think. Thank you for all the help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I'm very familiar with Stevens Point, I grew up in Pittsville. My mother frequented the thrift shops in both Wisconsin Rapids and Marshfield. She often found some very nice women's clothing. I suspect a lot of items she thrifted were donated by physicians / physicians wives.
Good to know this! I shop for books in Marshfield's second-hand bookshop, I'm both a book collector and a stamp collector (and vintage clothes as well!). I see that you are in Elcho, Wisc. I looked up the place and it is very small. The Main Street looks like the downtown of a classic Wisconsin small town, which I have grown to love. I have lived all over the world and I love living right here in my college town.
 

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Good to know this! I shop for books in Marshfield's second-hand bookshop, I'm both a book collector and a stamp collector (and vintage clothes as well!). I see that you are in Elcho, Wisc. I looked up the place and it is very small. The Main Street looks like the downtown of a classic Wisconsin small town, which I have grown to love. I have lived all over the world and I love living right here in my college town.
I have many fond memories of visiting Stevens Point. I had friends who went to school at UW in Stevens Point and my sister and brother in law are both graduates of Sevens Point.

Elcho is best known as a small drinking village with a fishing problem. I actually live about 5 miles east of Elcho on Upper Post Lake. There are about 1,000 "households" on Upper Post and Lower Post combined but less than 100 year round residents. While I do enjoy living here and often tell my wife we live in paradise, we do enjoy visiting Chicago.
 

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Here are the details from the Union Label (diamond-shaped, some of which were partially obscured, but decoded with the help of other labels pictured on the net
(Being a serious philatelist, I had a powerful magnifying glass and an Ott Light I could use to decode the date):

529747 (serial number is in red to one side of the label)
Issued by authority of Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America
Union Made Garment
Executive Board
Series GGN Copyright 1949

So gamma68 was right, the union label does help to date this coat -- to 1949, I should think. Thank you for all the help.
The tag dated 1949 was in use through 1976. So a little more info is needed to narrow down the date. Is there an icon of a sewing machine in the center of the tag? Are the serial numbers in red or black?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The tag dated 1949 was in use through 1976. So a little more info is needed to narrow down the date. Is there an icon of a sewing machine in the center of the tag? Are the serial numbers in red or black?
Thanks for the clarification. Yes, there is a sewing machine icon in the center of the tag, and the serial number is all in red.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The tag dated 1949 was in use through 1976. So a little more info is needed to narrow down the date. Is there an icon of a sewing machine in the center of the tag? Are the serial numbers in red or black?
I did a bit of research and found a post on a website (Fedora Lounge) with multiple union labels, which showed a label very much like the one in my coat. It has the red serial number, sewing machine at center, and other details that match my label. The only problem is that I can't tell if an (R) for registered trade mark is present because that part of the label is sewn in. My best guess after comparing is that there is likely no (R), so according to the chap who posted it, the date would be between 1949 and 1961. (If there is an (R), the dates would be 1962 through1968). Do you think my information and reasoning is correct? Do you think the pictures of my coat indicate a style common in that period, the 1950s, mainly?
 

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I did a bit of research and found a post on a website (Fedora Lounge) with multiple union labels, which showed a label very much like the one in my coat. It has the red serial number, sewing machine at center, and other details that match my label. The only problem is that I can't tell if an (R) for registered trade mark is present because that part of the label is sewn in. My best guess after comparing is that there is likely no (R), so according to the chap who posted it, the date would be between 1949 and 1961. (If there is an (R), the dates would be 1962 through1968). Do you think my information and reasoning is correct? Do you think the pictures of my coat indicate a style common in that period, the 1950s, mainly?
It's most likely 1962-68
 

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Ah. Do you say that because of the cut of the coat, even if we can't see the copyright mark? Or because of some other feature? (You may be right, because the coat just does not seem old enough to be from the sixties, come to think of it).
I think 1962-68 is the safest bet, only because it's more likely that an item from that period survived than something earlier.

I did some sleuthing on newspapers.com and found no reference to Kapson's after Jan. 1979 (a very small ad for an English/Spanish-speaking salesman. Same address as listed on your tag.

The earliest reference to Kapson's is in Feb. 1930. An explosion and fire (cause unknown) damaged buildings on W. 26th. The blast impacted the Kapson's store across the street. Sounds like a gas explosion to me.

Here's a sample Kapson's ad from 1949:
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I think 1962-68 is the safest bet, only because it's more likely that an item from that period survived than something earlier.

I did some sleuthing on newspapers.com and found no reference to Kapson's after Jan. 1979 (a very small ad for an English/Spanish-speaking salesman. Same address as listed on your tag.

The earliest reference to Kapson's is in Feb. 1930. An explosion and fire (cause unknown) damaged buildings on W. 26th. The blast impacted the Kapson's store across the street. Sounds like a gas explosion to me.

Here's a sample Kapson's ad from 1949:
What can I say? This is brilliant, gamma68! So there indeed was a Kapson's tailoring establishment. Quite amazing. Thank you. I should take a look at newspapers.com. It sounds like a fascinating archive.
 

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The building where Kapson's was located is gone and replaced by one that looks modern and contains a financial service business. Cizek's men's clothing, that I mentioned above, was two blocks west of there and is now a Hispanic cowboy clothing retailer. The area is currently called "Little Village".

The takeaway is that this area was very ethnic even in the mid-century era, my opinion is that coat is more likely from the earlier part of the date range suggested above. Chicago was never a traditional clothing town except for Brooks Bros. and a few wealthy suburbs that had local retailers. The Squire Shop that I mentioned before opened in 1952, with H. Freeman and later, Norman Hilton clothing lines.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
The building where Kapson's was located is gone and replaced by one that looks modern and contains a financial service business. Cizek's men's clothing, that I mentioned above, was two blocks west of there and is now a Hispanic cowboy clothing retailer. The area is currently called "Little Village".

The takeaway is that this area was very ethnic even in the mid-century era, my opinion is that coat is more likely from the earlier part of the date range suggested above. Chicago was never a traditional clothing town except for Brooks Bros. and a few wealthy suburbs that had local retailers. The Squire Shop that I mentioned before opened in 1952, with H. Freeman and later, Norman Hilton clothing lines.
Thank you, Old Road Dog. Indeed Chicago is a multi-ethnic city, with people from all over the world living in enclaves, at least in the old days. I'm amazed at what we have discovered, even about a tailoring establishment that was relatively obscure. I have worn the coat a few times, it is perfect for the weather in a Wisconsin December, over a Shetland sweater or Harris tweed sports jacket, both favourites of mine. I will treasure it because of its distinctive cut and style, and the quiet elegance it has. And thanks very much indeed to all who contributed to our discussion here. I have learned more about this coat than I could ever have hoped to learn on my own.
 
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