They Still Remember New York’s A. De Pinna

We are on our way to Church of the Redeemer, walking down Palm Avenue in downtown Sarasota, and a man remarks on our daughter wearing a white smocked dress. She reminds him of his sister, wearing Best & Co. and later shopping at DePinna with his mother. Of the two, Best’s has returned, but DePinna has not. We wondered why.

What happened to DePinna? And does the brand have enough residual goodwill to bring back?

Lisa Birnbach in her Official Preppy Handbook featured four “R.I.P” retailers in her book – Abercrombie & Fitch, Best & Co., Peck and Peck and DePinna. Since the book, three have returned. Abercrombie is everywhere making teens look slutty; Best’s is a boutique catalog and store and Peck & Peck is a store brand at Stein Mart.

What was DePinna? And where did DePinna go?

Time magazine posted an archive letter to the editor from 1927. The letter was written by and about a prep school student named Denny, who thought that a DePinna ad listing some of the “top” prep schools did not list his. It gives a sense of the social importance of DePinna:

“And how many fellows at Exeter, Andover, Mercersburg and Lawrenceville ever bought a suit at De Pinna’s? But there are other leading schools; where the fellows dress just as well as any clothes from De Pinna’s. How would De Pinna’s like it if I put an advertisement calling Brooks and Rogers Peet the “leading clothing stores” in New York?

Which got us thinking. What was it about De Pinna? And furthermore, what happened to Rogers Peet?

  • The company was founded by and as A. De Pinna Company, and had early space at 650 Fifth Avenue.
  • His son Leo S. De Pinna, of 375 Park Avenue, ran the company after him.
  • In 1938, Leo S. De Pinna’s daughter, Miss Constance Vivian De Pinna married Emerson Muschamp Bainbridge of Gledfield, Ardgay Rossshire, Scotland.
  • In 1941, they opened a “Doll House Salon.” The company also made military officer hats for the U.S. Army.
  • In 1950, the company was purchased by the beloved Washington, D.C. department store Julius Garfinckel Co., Inc. De Pinna was also a sister company to Brooks Brothers (and later Richmond’s Miller & Rhoads.)
  • In 1953, De Pinna and an unrelated retailer Gunther Jaeckel, Inc. began to close Thursday nights, which was a retailing tradition.
  • In 1957, the company’s president, John T. Fielder, announced a store in Westchester County on White Plains Road.
  • In in 1966, the Minskoff real estate family purchased the De Pinna Building.
  • The A. DePinna Company announced the closing of its three stores in April of 1969; its store at Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street was, in the 1970s, torn down for a skyscraper, apparently by “Iranians.”

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16 Comments


  1. My father was going to America to work with Leo de Pinna when the war started and he was diverted to New Guinea and my mother was given a screen contract by Charles Chauvel who launched Errol Flynn who probably knew Connie de Pinna.

  2. I’m Geoffrey B. DePinna, son of George L. DePinna. I believed I was the last of the DePinna line, I guess I was proven wrong
    Family history and background steems from England .

  3. Message for Geoffrey B. DePinna…
    Hi, I am Basil Phillips, the grandson of Madaleine (Née) DePinna, Maida Vale, London, England. I think I may have met your father George L DePinna around 1948/49 when he visited us in Eastbourne during his visit to the UK. His address in my deceased mothers address book is 101 67th Drive, Forest Hills Drive, New York 11375. I also believe the DePinna family owned a lighting business in Miami.
    Hi would be very interested to hear if these details relate to your family.
    Regards
    Basil Phillips (Laurie) New Zealand
    lawiephillips@xtra.co.nz

  4. Hi Mr. Phillips, I am wondering if you have any recollection or information about Antoinette De Pinna, the store founder’s sister (?). My family has a letter written by her from February of 1909 to my great grandmother who had given birth at the New York Infant Asylum. It must have been special to her because she saved it all those years.

    Antoinette was living at Euclid Hall, 86th Street and Broadway, NYC, at the time. In the letter, Antoinette mentions that she had wanted to visit my great, great grandmother the next Sunday, but that she couldn’t “…for I have promised to go down to the country to my sister for that day”. The letter is so warm and encouraging; she must have been a wonderful lady. Anything you may know about her and wish to share would be greatly appreciated by our family. Thank you, Lisa Hollywood, NYC, NY.

  5. I met Connie De Pinna in London in 1969. We became friends and remained so until her death.

  6. There are de Pinna family members in Australia, too. Also, I understand that in Sydney, there is a collection of beautiful clothing called the Darnell Collection (I think). One of the dresses bears the de Pinna label.

  7. I have a 65 year old baby’s outfit and I have been trying
    to remove the yellow from age so my grandson (due in May) can wear
    his grandfather’s baby outfit. I decided to look up the De Pinna
    name on the tag and was delighted to find this website. If this
    outfit has survived, in tact, all these years without care, I would
    love to see this brand return.

  8. I have a De Pinna “donkey doll” in the original box with tags, in perfect condition, never use, it even has its original gift ribbon. Does anyone have any information on the doll.

  9. De Pinna was a beautiful store…My mom bought a magnificent hat there for Easter in 1964…she still has it in the green cardboard hatbox with the company logo.

  10. Thank you for this fine website. DePinna was a beautiful store — my mother and I used to buy ponchos, scarves and small bags there, and everything was so top quality. Once in a while we would see Jackie Kennedy drop by. After DePinna we would go down Fifth Avenue to Arnold Constable, another fine store. Would love to see either one come back, with the same sensibilities.

  11. My great great grandfather was the tailor for De Pinna. His name was Gustave Kohner and he moved to the US from France in 1875 and began working for De Pinna in 1919. I’m so glad I found this article!!

  12. Antoinette DePinna was the Founder & Administrator of the Friendly Home, a subsidiary (?) of the Hebrew Orphan Assylum. As I understand it, the ” Friendly Home” was a program to prepare the girls at the home with the skills to support themselves when they were old enough to be on their own. My mother was a resident of the home from early childhood & became Miss DePinna’s assistant in this program. My mother adored her & thought of her as a surrogate for her own mother. I have beautiful letters which she wrote to my mother when she married & when I was born. I’d be most gratful toanyone who has any information about Muss DePinna’s background & life.

  13. Antoinette DePinna was the Founder & Administrator of the Friendly Home, a subsidiary (?) of the Hebrew Orphan Assylum. As I understand it, the ” Friendly Home” was a program to prepare the girls at the home with the skills to support themselves when they were old enough to be on their own. My mother was a resident of the home from early childhood & became Miss DePinna’s assistant in this program. My mother adored her & thought of her as a surrogate for her own mother. I have beautiful letters which she wrote to my mother when she married & when I was born. I’d be most gratful to anyone who has any information about Muss DePinna’s background & life.

  14. My father ran the alteration department at DePinna for years. I have fond memories of visiting and loved the dresses he brought home for me. His name was Rocco Marino and was there is the 1960’s.

  15. I had the privilege of being the Display Director for DePinna from 1964 to 1966. Perhaps the best known windows on Fifth Avenue at Christmas 1965 we those of De Pinna depicting the frozen scenery of the movie Dr Zhivago.

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