Thrifting Finds: Hickey Freeman Canterbury Blazer
Hickey Freeman is one of my favorite menswear brands to seek when thrift shopping for suits and sportcoats. They have been making high-quality suits and sportcoats in Rochester, New York since 1899. Their expertise and excellence in suitmaking make them one of the very best American menswear manufacturers today.
I like to call this my ‘Ricky Ricardo’ (from television sitcom “I Love Lucy”) blazer as it has the high broad shoulders and slim hips characteristic of 1960s suits and sportcoats. I paired it with a pair of Jos. A. Bank silk cream colored slacks and Cremieux vintage silk tie. I could wear clothes from this era every day. They had a masculine silhouette but were also very comfortable.
I purchased this Hickey Freeman Canterbury Blazer (shown above) second-hand on eBay for only $14.00 (including shipping). Normally, the Hickey Freeman brand commands a higher price on the second-hand market. The poor quality of the photos and description of this jacket in the eBay listing made it easy to overlook. Three decades of experience thrift shopping has taught me to look beyond bad photos. This brand does not make junk. I took the risk that the jacket was much nicer than the photos suggested. That risk paid off!
The Canterbury line represented one of Hickey Freeman’s most luxurious collections. This blue blazer is fully canvassed, uses excellent wool fabrics, and has tailoring details such as high armholes that contribute to a great fit. My jacket appeared to have been made-to-measure for its original owner. It is at least twenty-years-old and has the generous shoulder pads to prove it (my only complaint about this jacket). However, it fits me beautifully with no alterations needed. It is in excellent condition. I can say that it is the nicest blazer I have ever owned. And, at $14.00, it is also the cheapest!
You will notice in the top two photos that the shoulders of this jacket are heavily padded, a popular fad in the 1980s. I was able to remove the added padding quite easily. I opened up the lining seam below the shoulders and discovered that the extra shoulder padding had been stitched into the jacket after manufacture. It took less than ten minutes to remove the added padding, leaving behind the default padding the jacket was manufactured with. Now, the jacket drapes much better with the light shoulder padding in place. The finished jacket after this alteration is shown below.
In another post, I talk about the difference between luxury and quality. Luxury brands manipulate emotion to convince you to overpay for quality. Hickey Freeman never achieved true luxury status as a brand. Yet, it remains one of the finest suitmakers in the world when it comes to quality. They come from a tradition of quality over fashion. You got your money’s worth when you purchased a Hickey Freeman suit.
On eBay, you can buy two or three used Hickey Freeman suits for the price of one second-hand Canali or Zegna (Italian luxury brands). Hickey Freeman easily matches the best Italian luxury brands in quality while offering considerable savings (also true when buying new at retail). I highly recommend Hickey Freeman suits whether you are buying new or used suits and sportcoats.-Don P. SplurgeFrugal