QUEENS, N.Y. – We are reading the AIA history of New York City architecture and we spy a forgotten name. Russ Togs. The guide mentions the Russ Togs Manufacturing and Distribution Center at 27-09 49th Ave. at the SE corner of 27th Street. The building and its sign were icons, and were engineered by Robert E. Levien and constructed in 1965.
Wrote the guide: “A bulky brutal brick box which reaches for the top of the nearby high-level approach of the Long Island Expressway. As a result, its roof becomes the obvious place for an immense neon sign on a delicate latticework of angle iron supports. “
What happened to Russ Togs? It was a fairly prominent clothing manufacturer and brand, and it went into bankruptcy in 1991. Part of its operations were the brands Villager and Diane Von Furstenberg. Villager was quite a brand in its time, and had a social status as high as Lacoste or Lilly Pulitzer. The Peter Pan collars of Villager, founded by the late Norman Raab, were a staple of carriage trade department stores.
Russ Togs also made Christie Brinkley sportswear and bathing suits; Brinkley inked a deal with her in 1983. In 1992, Liz Claiborne bought the brands and some assets, including Crazy Horse, Villager, Red Horse and the namesake Russ Togs brand.
The Russ Togs brand was eventually abandoned, then re-registered, and is now abandoned.
Goods and Services (ABANDONED) IC 025. US 039. G & S: apparel; namely, footwear, head wear, shirts, pants, shorts, dresses, sweaters, vests, suits, coats and jumpers Abandonment Date March 23, 1995
Someone named Erin o’Keeffe applied for the mark in 2004, but abandoned it Nov. 3, 2005.
The brand and company is the subject of the HBO documentary Schmatta, the story of the demise of the New York garment manufacturing industry.