Behind the Seams with Joseph Abboud
The menswear designer on Bedford, Boston, baseball, and his local life.
(page 5 of 5)
The designer and his family in 2001: his wife, the former Lynn Weinstein; older daughter, Lila, named after his mother; and younger daughter, Ari. photo courtesy of joseph abboud
It’s been a little more than a decade since Westchester Magazine last sat down with Abboud and it’s been a hectic one for the designer professionally. Eight years ago, he was involved in what the press likes to call a messy “business divorce.” Abboud had sold his company, JA Apparel, and its trademarks, for $65 million in 2000; a second one, J.W. Childs Associates, then acquired the company for $73 million in 2004. Abboud, not pleased with the direction the company was going in, left JA Apparel in 2005. The messiness of the leave-taking concerns the erroneous assumption that Abboud had sold his name as well as the trademarks. “In 2000, I sold the trademarks but I didn’t sell my name,” he explains. “The second company claimed I did. That’s a very big distinction,” he continues. “After a two-year lawsuit, in 2009, we finally won.” And not only has Abboud’s name been legally restored to him, just after we spoke last summer, the official announcement was made that he was about to be reunited with the brand he started. Men’s Wearhouse, for which he has been chief creative director since December 2012, announced that it had purchased Abboud’s former company and its brand for $97.5 million. His name, brand, and company officially restored, Abboud says, “It was meant to be.”
Perhaps also meant to be, for this Boston boy, born and bred—and member of the Red Sox Nation who goes up to see his team play 15 or 20 times a year—is Abboud’s recent acquisition of a townhouse in his native city that’s a mere 12 minutes from Fenway Park. A 126-year-old tower, it now houses a five-floor apartment. It’s there that Abboud is headed after our interview; later tonight, he’ll catch a Sox game with Lila.
“When I’m back in Boston, I’ll drive though my old neighborhoods where I grew up and used to play baseball,” reflects Abboud. “People come up to me and say, ‘Oh, you’re Joseph Abboud and we’re so proud of you’ or ‘I got married in one of your suits.’ It’s kind of like being part of the home team. It’s not curing a disease, but those things make you feel good.” Nice.