Few stores take their name and pedigree as literally as J. H. & Sons Clothier.
The store’s legacy started in 1975 with Jim Halberstadt opening a menswear shop called Halberstadt’s Men’s Clothiers. At 16, his son, Jeff, started selling suits and eventually opened his own locations under the same name. In 2014, Jeff introduced the J. H. & Sons Clothiers concept in Sioux Falls and later in Omaha.
Including Jeff’s son, Jaime, three generations of J. Halberstadts have been selling menswear across the Midwest for a combined 96 years. All are eager for Jaime’s three-year-old son, Julian, to be the fourth generation J. Halberstadt to join the family business.
I spoke with Jeff Halberstadt about their upcoming store in the Edina Galleria, and men’s fashion and formalwear in 2023.
Of course, the backbone of men’s formalwear is the suit. When it comes to the suit market, J. H. & Sons likes to lean Italian.
“Our stores like to use Italian goods in our styling,” Jeff says. “Their method of making clothing has much more handwork.” This attention to detail is what separates good suits from great ones, and that difference matters.
While Italian suits have always carried weight, times have changed since Jeff was selling suits as a teenager.
“The world seems like it’s gotten smaller,” Jeff explains. “Customers are exposed to many different things. They are seeing the types of brands we carry wherever they go. So we rely on excellent [service and personable interactions to keep people coming back.]”
However, J.H. & Sons do use the small world theory to their advantage. By making more and more Italian connections, they can bring big brands to the Midwest – even if these vendors can’t find them on a map. Some of these brands include Canali, Corneliani, Eton and Brioni.
“Our vendors, especially some of the better Italian ones, definitely scratch their heads when I tell them the types of the things we are selling and where,” Jeff says. “They have never heard of Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota.”
For those looking to buy a new suit, Jeff admits it can sometimes seem intimidating, but his tip is to go to a store with a good reputation.
“Generally, in a better store, the salespeople have been in the business for quite some time and are very familiar with how a suit should fit,” he says.
Having been that salesperson, Jeff understands the gravity of being a good listener, knowing his product, and understanding what the client wants from the suit.
“What will the suit be used for, how often will it be worn, and what is the desired fit? The answers to these questions result in using different brands over others. It doesn’t do a salesman any good to sell a guy a suit that isn’t what he’s comfortable in.”
Another often overlooked aspect of store reputation is the quality of the tailor. “If it’s an off-the-rack suit, you have to make sure those tailors are the best because they can make the difference between just a good-looking suit and a great one,” Jeff says.
J. H. & Sons' new store will open in the Edina Galleria this year, selling both formalwear and sportswear. For Jeff, that location is a dream come true.
“About 40 years ago, I [stood] in front of a men’s store in the Galleria and [dreamed of having] my own store there,” he says. “See you in Edina!”