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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