There are not a lot of specialty stores that can say they’ve been in business for 85 years, so if you reach that milestone, it makes sense to shout about it.
And that’s just what Boyds is doing this fall.
The upscale Philadelphia retailer has created a special logo, will be doing a series of events and has worked with its vendors to develop products to commemorate the anniversary.
The retailer was founded in 1938 by Russian immigrants Alexander, Albert and Ben Gushner, who left their homeland in hopes of a better life in America. They opened Boyds, selling cigars and sundries and eventually men’s shirts, on Market Street. After 55 years, the company expanded beyond its core in menswear to women’s as well. Today, its flagship is located in Center City Philadelphia and it also operates a suburban outpost in Wayne, Pennsylvania, that opened in 2022. Kent Gushner, Alexander’s grandson, and his sons Alex and Andrew are running the business, representing the fourth generation of the retailing family.
Andrew, who oversees all marketing and branding for the company, was the catalyst for the 85th anniversary campaign.
“It’s an unbelievable occasion for us,” he said. “So we knew we had to do something special.”
Earlier this week, he said, the retailer officially launched the messaging around the birthday on its website and social media sites as well as through emails to its customers. The homepage on the Boyds site reads: 85 years of service, fashion, luxury and includes a special note from Kent Gushner that reads: “As we pause to celebrate our 85th anniversary, I find myself reflecting on the incredible journey it’s been for my family. This milestone is a testament to our employees’ and clients’ unwavering support and integral role in shaping our legacy. For that, I thank you. Every garment tailored, every customer served and every smile exchanged is filled with a sense of history and promise for the future. After 85 years, I can confidently say we are just getting started.”
Beyond that, Andrew Gushner said Boyds will be holding a series of special events and trunk shows throughout the fall that kicked off with Thom Browne on Friday and will include Proenza Schouler, Bontoni, Isaia, Santoni, Monfrère, Brioni and more.
Special anniversary windows and packaging will be featured in stores and online along with anniversary-themed shopping bags, cotton totes, stickers and ribbons.
In addition, key vendors stepped up to help the store celebrate. “When we started to brainstorm about how to make the campaign really special, we reached out to vendors we have a strong relationship with to see if they wanted to collaborate,” Andew Gushner said. “We’d never done that before.”
Vendors including Isaia, L’Agence, Monfrère, Moreau Paris and Santoni created special pieces ranging from suits and sport coats and hoodies to shoes and sweatpants. One of the most impactful pieces is a special penny loafer the retailer designed with Bontoni that features 1938 pennies on the keeper — a nod to the founding date — and is named the Gerald after Gerald Gushner, the second generation of the family to run the store. Andrew Gushner said the dust bags for the the $1,195 shoes were all created from leftover men’s suit fabrics sourced from the store’s on-site tailor shop, and they will come in a special green box.
In addition, Letanne, an artisanal women’s knitwear line, has created a special sweater coat that features the facade of the flagship in an intarsia pattern on the back, he said, that will retail for $2,295. And Isaia’s sport coats with special anniversary labeling will sell for $4,250 to $4,995.
Although not exactly tied to the anniversary, Boyds is also planning to participate in a special Fashion Touchdown event in Philadelphia on Nov. 13 to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence. Andrew Gushner said the company signed on as a partner to provide financial and mentorship programs and will serve as the exclusive fashion partner of a runway show.
“Boyds has always been more than a store. It’s an experience, a tradition, and a part of Philadelphia’s fabric,” Kent Gushner said.
For the holiday season, Boyds will stage a special market on the fourth floor of its flagship from Nov. 24 to Dec. 31 for the first time, featuring a rotation of retailers and brands specializing in children’s clothing, jewelry, gourmet chocolates, coffee-table books and other products. Assouline and Paul Morelli are two brands that have already signed on with more to come, Andrew Gushner said.
Although the company’s legacy is tied to downtown Philadelphia, Andrew Gushner said the Wayne store will also be participating in the celebration. He said that unit is “doing phenomenally and is an increasingly important part of our business.”
In 2018, the 74,000-square-foot Center City flagship at 1818 Chestnut Street completed a $10 million renovation. Boyds has been operating in that location, which once housed the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, since 1990.
Missy Dietz, director of business development who joined Boyds in 2018 after stints at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nan Duskin, added: “Boyds is not just a brand; it’s a legacy. As we mark our 85th year, we look back with pride and ahead with ambition. This celebration is as much for our loyal employees and customers as it is for us. Their stories, milestones, contributions, and trust have shaped our journey.”