Well Suited

A Studio City clothing store keeps strong ties with its legendary past.

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    Heather David • Photographs courtesy of Marti Devore

The comedian Bob Hope once said, “In a very good year, I have my choice between a Rolls-Royce, a new house in Beverly Hills or a suit from Sy Devore.” And now, decades later, the name Sy Devore is still synonymous with true Hollywood glamour at a premium price.  

It all started back in 1944. Sy, known by many as “the tailor to the stars,” moved from New York to Los Angeles.  “He knew Hollywood was the place to be,” says his niece Marti Devore. Partnered with Marti’s father, Al Devore, Sy initially opened a 10,000-square-foot store at Sunset and Vine. Al handled sales while Sy crafted the made-to-measure suits alongside a team of Italian-born tailors.   

“In those days, the store was crazy,” says Danny Marsh, who bought the business in 2007. “It was a place where Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis would try out new material on a Saturday afternoon. Or you could see Nat King Cole in the tailor shop having a conversation with Sammy Davis, Jr., while Bob Hope and Milton Berle were being fitted downstairs.”

In the center of the building there was a barbershop where stars came in regularly for cuts, and in the middle of the tailoring department customers could serve themselves from a full bar. Marti, who grew up hanging around the store (and still works there a couple days a week), fondly remembers one well-known comedian trying out his act on unsuspecting patrons. “Don Rickles would come in there and just riff-tearing everyone in the room apart.”

While it was indeed a popular gathering spot, make no mistake: the reason customers returned for decades was to buy Sy’s timeless creations. “I refer back to Sy’s vintage designs all of the time,” says Danny. “I get ideas on how we can incorporate them in the present day. I developed a new line of suits that are reminiscent of The Rat Pack suits we made in the late 1950s.” 

 

Sy with Bob Hope

 

In 1962, the Devores ventured into the Valley, opening an additional store at what was then called Fashion Square Mall in Sherman Oaks (now knownas Westfield Shopping Center). Sy passed away in 1966, and the Vine Street location eventually closed doors in the late 1970s.

The Valley store, in fact, is where Danny started as a salesperson nearly 25 years ago. He eventually realized the place needed to reinvent itself. “We wanted to create a space where people made a concerted effort to come, which is why we left the mall. The suits we specialize in are not the kind you can get off a mannequin.” So in 2000, they moved the store to its present location, the corner of Coldwater Canyon and Ventura Boulevard.

Marti ran the company from the time her father died in 1974 until she sold it to Danny. She says she knew he could keep Sy’s legacy alive. “Danny just grew into the role so easily, and there was no question that he was the one who should take over. He’s part of the family,” she says.

Sy Devore chic duds maintain a presence in the entertainment industry—in films like Transformers: Dark of the Moon and on TV shows like Bones and The Big Bang Theory. 
With the passage of decades a lot about the business has changed—but Danny is quick to point out one Sy Devore philosophy remains the same: clothes never make the man. He explains, “The attitude of the wearer makes the man. The suit helps, but the man definitely makes the suit.”

Sy with Elvis

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