MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – This year, local men’s clothing company Hubert White celebrates 100 years of service in the men’s fashion business.
In its 100 years, the family owned store has seen businesses come and go on both sides of the river.
Running any business for a century is no easy feat, but in 1916 newly married Bert White was set on not just dressing for success but turning it into his life’s work.
So, White opened a haberdashery and clothing shop and ran it until it was time for his son Bill to take it over in the 50s.
Then came Bob White. For White, it’s all about the people and that’s what makes him a Minnesotan to meet.
Like his grandfather and father, White got hooked on fabrics at a very early age.
“I would go back to our St. Paul store in the old First National Bank building, and as kid I’d come down on Saturdays and we sold a lot of hats,” White said.
Hats at the haberdashery were his specialty.
“My job was to take the hats from down in the deep basement of the bank building and put them upstairs on the selling floor,” he said.
In the 40s, White said, top hats were the big trend.
“You look in the old pictures and there was a whole hat department,” White said.
Back then Hubert White had more than a dozen competitors in men’s clothing. Fast forward to today and the competition changed to big box department stores, but they are the only ones still standing from years ago.
“To have it still be in the family, my son Matt works in the store as well, it’s great,” White said.
White attended law school at the University of Denver and worked at the shop temporarily, he never thought it would be his career.
“I came back to the store in the mid-70s, and probably running it since the early 80s,” White said.
It’s the people that stroll through the doors that keep him here day after day.
“I’m a people guy. It is the people. And obviously there is an aesthetic side to me,” White said. “I love the things we touch and feel and the fit and all of that. That side is great, but I continually to go back to the relationships and friends.”
Take stroll down the Minneapolis skyway and it’s easy to see that business casual is the rage for men’s fashion and the cut of the clothes as well.
“Not only the suit coat, but the trouser, the shirt, the whole thing,” White said.
White said they first introduced jeans into the store about 15 years ago. The jean display sits directly next to their sock display.
“Neckties. Not everyone wears a necktie, and neckties have always been a personality part of the wardrobe so a sock can do the same thing,” White said.
While the colors and style may be a bit flashier, White said no matter the decade people still care about their dress from head to toe.
“The one thing that hasn’t changed is that people do care how they look. I think there’s a misnomer that men care less. And, yes there are more women’s stores than men’s stores, but men do care how they look even if it’s in a casual way,” White said.
Hubert White is located at 747 Nicollet Mall.