Bergdorf Goodman began as a custom tailoring shop in 1901, named such after Edwin Goodman (1876-1953) bought out his partners in what had previously been the tailoring firm of Bergdorf and Voigt. Goodman had acquired a reputation for immaculate tailoring and an inspired understanding of cut and materials. Bergdorf Goodman expanded into ready-to-wear in 1923, but continued to offer custom clothing and millinery well into the 1960s. It was one of the last department stores to offer this service, indicative of the very wealthy clientele who favored Bergdorf Goodman and placed orders from around the globe. Primary couturier to New York society, Edwin Bergman and the Bergdorf Goodman custom salon also outfitted international royalty, Broadway and Hollywood stars, and the elites of Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and the West Coast, many of whom spent $100,000/year in the store. Bergdorf Goodman was known for the immaculate craftsmanship of its clothes, and later for furs.
The custom salon was never strictly profitable for Bergdorf Goodman because of the high cost of labor and materials, and the cost of research and buying trips to Paris and Italy. A 1951 Business Week article on the department store reported that the custom salon “has not made money since 1929.” The salon employed 3 top-notch designers, 115 dressmakers, 55 tailors, 14 dressers, a “string of saleswomen, models, and assistants,” not to mention the sketch-makers and watercolorists who produced the sketches that comprise most of this collection. But this boutique service raised the profile of the department store and the house designers who worked in the custom salon also contributed designs for Bergdorf Goodman’s ready-to-wear collection. Edwin Goodman has been credited with extending the construction techniques of higher-end garments (deep hems and cutting on the true bias) to ready-to-wear, and raising the standards for the mass manufacture of clothing in the United States.
Andrew Goodman (1907-1993) succeeded his father as President of the store in 1951 on the occasion of the store’s 50th anniversary, and remained active until 1975, three years after it became part of the Broadway-Hale department store chain. Bergdorf Goodman subsequently became a division of the Neiman Marcus group. The store has been at its present location at 58th Street and Fifth Avenue since 1928. Unlike other department stores, Bergdorf Goodman never expanded to include branches in the suburbs.
Bergdorf Goodman Inc. is a luxury goods department store based on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City. The company was founded in 1899 by Herman Bergdorf and was later owned and managed by Edwin Goodman, and later his son Andrew Goodman.