Todays menswear is rooted in the 19th century, in the realm of the jacket, pant and vest cut of a varying degree of matched cloths, and known as “the suit”. Once, completely made by hand and fit to the individual wearers particular shape and size by skilled tailors, a properly cut suit allowed the unique wearer to look just like everybody else. Traditional man did not stand out sartorially from his other male colleagues, he fit in. Menswear did not, since the 19th century, make the dramatic moves, seasonally or even yearly, that womens fashion did. Menswear was not as much about fashion as it was about making any man look manly. The longevity of this sameness of look allowed for the easy standardization of menswear, which led it to be one of the first sectors of the clothing industry to move into mass production.
In 1883, after purchasing John Calder & Co, a wholesale clothing company, G.C. Coppley, E. Finch Noyes and James Randall formed a menswear company, a suit maker, called Coppley, Noyes & Randall Ltd. and they, among others, made Hamilton, Ontario, in it’s early life, known as city of manufacturer of textiles and garments who made major contributions to its industrial economy. In and out of two world wars Coppley, Notes & Randall rolled with the fluctuation of one type of a suit of clothes, whether military or civilian, for another, which kept them actively engaged as successful manufacturers. The company was sold to Max Enkin in 1952 where it flourished through the 1960’s and 1970’s, making its own label goods, Cambridge Clothes, as well as a mix of American and European labelled fashion brands licensed for distribution in Canada. By the 1980’s, Coppley had established a reputation as a forward-thinking and fashionable apparel firm and in early 1990’s, the company entered into the American market. The company had modernized aspects of their production with computer-assisted cutting and state-of-the-art efficiencies, and, while known for their seven-day turnaround, with the preservation of a distinctive old-world touch, and their preference for fine imported cloth from Italian mills, buyers viewed them as being able to produce goods that were equal to those of European quality, which most USA manufacturers were not. This was one of the reasons they were so successful. In 1998 they were purchased by Chicago-based Hartmarx Corporation. In 2009 when Hartmarx defaulted on $114 million in debts they took Coppley into bankruptcy protection with them. In 2009 Emerisque Brands UK and SKNL North America, B.V., arms of one of India’s largest clothing companies, purchased Coppley and created HMX Canada Acquisition Group. In October, 2012, HMX filed for bankruptcy, however, that time the foreign owner did not drag Coppley into bankruptcy with it, which allowed for a quick and easy sale and the European based IAG purchased them. The Coppley company is the oldest surviving garment manufacturer in Hamilton and one of the oldest in Canada. Coppley has produced tailored clothing continuously since 1883 and are proud of their “Made in Canada” heritage. They now make an average of 1,000 suits a week for dozens of clients in the United States, and in Canada and the company is again profitable.