Dunn’s Tailors opened its doors in 1936. Former owners and brothers George and Clarence Conn installed Dunn’s famous art-deco sign at their flagship store at 390 West Hastings in 1946. Dunn’s built a reputation for its superior customer service, its “made-to-measure” tailoring, and later, as a leading retailer of “off the rack” menswear.
In 1974, a young man named Robert Smith started working at the store. “I stood at a made-to-measure table and measured 200 people in a weekend,” he recalls. He worked hard. Six years later, he was named a partner. Now, he owns the business.
Robert moved Dunn’s to its current home at Granville and Pender from Hastings in 1995. The hardest yet most crucial part of the move was re-installing the neon sign, of which Robert has been a fierce and meticulous protector. “In my lifetime, it will not be changed,” he declares.
“I’ve seen a huge amount of change. It’s incredible. Even today, [fashion]’s changing. [In earlier decades], it was very buttoned up. Tailor-made, three-piece suits, everyone wore them.
And then the casual dot-com wave came. People started wearing Chinos and the suits sort of waned. There were tailors that closed up and people were making all kinds of statements people weren’t going to wear suits anymore.
But it got so that wearing Chinos to the office is really not acceptable. I predicted this. I was a member of a fashion council and I spoke at a big convention. I told them that the problem with this Casual Friday is there are no rules to Casual Friday.
The suit’s an image. It’s part of what you should be wearing. When I go and deal with a lawyer, I don’t want to see a lawyer in a t-shirt and jeans. Because perception is, he’s just a little to casual for me.
So it’s changed again. There’s an evolution again. All the young guys are dressing to the nines. Absolutely to the nines.”
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-Robert Smith, owner, Dunn’s Tailors