So What Happened To Russ Togs?

Russ Togs labelQUEENS, 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.

14 Comments

  1. Just a note – I worked for Russ Togs from 1976-1978 when I moved out of state. I would have stayed to the end otherwise. It was a wonderful company to work for and they really cared about their employees. This policy is very much missed in the USA.

  2. The brand really ought to come back.

  3. Mr. Pollard,
    Thanks for the story on Russ Togs. As a native of Queens the Russ Togs Sign along with Chicklets, Swingline, Westinghouse and the Elmhurst gas tanks were the skyline I was most familiar with. One by one they disappeared. Barely a handful of friends might remember the Russ Togs sign if I were to blurt the name out. I was hoping to find a picture of that section of Long Island City when all those manufacturer’s signs were up. Do you know if any exist? I regret never taking one myself. Sincerely, Paul Stipkovich

  4. At work, I distribute a Word of the Day email based off of Merriam-Webster’s WotD. Today’s word is “tog” — and suddenly, memories of driving back to eastern Long Island after visiting my grandmother in Manhattan have surfaced. And, of course, there’s the old RRRRRRRUSS TOGS sign, with its silent progression of R’s. Thanks for reminding me that it wasn’t an enduring hallucination, but a part of someone’s day-to-day skyline.

  5. ahhh …..memories, but that too was a different, Queens, US and a different life. ….easier and peaceful. somehow we move on and do progress. “But those were the days”

  6. i workedas a sales trainee for thi co in 1966 in the lic factory had agood time and then left foa good job onthe road with logan and ended my sales career as a district manager for bobbie brooks ah! the memories

  7. Please let me know if anyone finds a picture of the neon sign.

    Thank you.

  8. That’s a beatifull memories. I worked there since 1981 thru 1885. It was my first job. I was working in 2 diferent depts. I remember as yesterday many of the coworkers. The president Mr. Morris Sadicario, Eli the Greek door men, Mr. Freddie Becker, and all the guys at shipping dept. There was a group of good Colombian guys, Sergio, Pacho, Clavito, Pimbora, Raul el gordo, Enrique el Dominicano the chief, Tinajita, Eladio, and many others. The trucks drivers of MCLEAN, Roadway, parcel post.and others. That’s was a wonderful place to works. I got and accident in 1985 and quit and got back to PR until now. If there is any one who remember me, please contact me. Thank’s God for that experience and that great opportunity on that moment.

  9. Wow! Wonderful memories!
    I worked at Russ Togs 1411 2nd Floor with Production Department: Dominic and Bibi. Our area included Specs, patternmaking and sewing. My first job. I will forever be gratefull to Dominic & Bibi whom trained and guided me while I was also a student at FIT. I was there when Liz Claiborne acquired the company. The labels Villager & Crazy Horse lived on for a while. Eventually Liz Claiborne also faded. Now Jc Penney owns the brand Liz Claiborne. A lots has changed with jobs outsource overseas. Its sad to see great companies go but we will never forget!

  10. Double WOW!! I also worked there in the Piece Goods office back around 1977 with Sal Anselmo, Sol Hoffman and Roy Kreiger… I was only 20 years old at the time!! One of my first jobs.

  11. Does somebody/anybody have the RRRRRRRUSS TOGS neon sign picture …..Please scan/post URL !

  12. I grew up at the foot of the Pulaski Bridge, Brooklyn side, and remember watching that RRRRRRRRuss TOGS sign lettering build and erase from our 3rd floor apartment window for minutes at a time at night. I could also see the Chicklets sign. I remember hearing that the company name was American Chickle Company and thinking “what’s a chickle?”, even though that sign made the word “chicklet” seem totally commonplace.

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