14 January 2008

My Fair Relic

There's an odd, ornate, sliver of a building in Fashion Avenue in the 30s. It's cream colored and needlessly fancy, and, if you squint, you can make out the gold words reading "Lerner Shops" at the top of the building, at the center of green escutcheons on the left and on the right.

The Lerner Shops were once a mighty chain of stores selling business clothing for women. They were founded in 1907 by Harold M. Lane and Samuel Lerner. There were 450 stores at one time, and this one may (or may not) have been the first. The 1985, the company became part of the Limited, Inc., which, for a time, put out a Lerner catalog. The catalog was discontinued in 2006, making this building the last thing to carry on the Lerner name.

Except, not quite. Sam Lerner had a brother, Joseph Jay Lerner, who had a son, born August 31, 1918, name of Alan. That's lyricist Alan Jay Lerner, creator, with partner Frederick Loewe, of such musicals as "Camelot" and "My Fair Lady." So little Alan Lerner had plenty of money to spend on No. 2 pencils. The old store is not far from the Broadway district, fittingly enough.


Signed D.C. said...

The "Lerner Shops" name still existed, either in malls or as standalone entities, until the late '90s or so. Then their name was changed to New York and Co. And they're not strictly for plus-sized chicks either. You never know, some of the older stores may still bear the Lerner name somewhere--say, buried under a New York & Co. sign, or etched in terrazo tile by the entrances.


Lisanne said...

I also have to say that Lerner was not a plus sized store. When I was growing up it was the type of store that a girl could buy a satin disco jacket or knock off Gunne Sax dress with her baby sitting money. Later in life i actually worked as a textile designer in the garment district (mid 80's) and actually designed many an 80's style new wave "camp" shirt for Lerners.. i really don't think it was ever a plus sized store...that was lane Bryants bag (who i also designed for!) the lerners buyers were always old school brooklyn types..

Anyway LUV the photo!!!

Anonymous said...

cool find...keep it up!

Brooks of Sheffield said...

I've changed the item. It no longer mentions plus-size women. I included that because I found a history of the store that said it sold those sort of clothes. Perhaps Lerner Shops started out that way and then expanded.