The Segelin family leaves Russia in 1895 for a better, safer life in Leeds, England, a center of clothing manufacturing. It will be a stopover of nearly a decade, before America beckons. Rochester, NY will be their destination. It is one of the top five cities in America producing men’s clothing.
Two of the brothers will open a custom men’s tailoring shop and my American born father will join them. While his uncles may sit at the back of the shop expertly sewing, lining, edging and buttonholing, my dad, whom I always referred to as the “front man,” will do everything else. Greet customers, take their measurements, create the patterns, cut the cloth, dress the windows, do the fittings, press the finished garments, travel to New York City to select and purchase fabrics, manage the billings.
The finished garments, suits, vests, slacks, overcoats are perfection. Patterns are impeccably matched. The fit is precise. Textiles include worsted, woolen, sharkskin, herringbone, hound’s-tooth check, silk, and the utterly luxurious cashmere and camel hair. As a child I am spellbound standing in front of the display of bolts of cloth. I touch and remember the color, pattern and feel of each one.
It will be many years before I tie the threads of this legacy together. I will eventually study and teach interior design and textiles. I will open my own interiors firm and incorporate men’s clothing fabrics into some of my design projects.