series 13 - Max Meyer records

Identity area

Reference code

US NNFIT SC.FITA.2.13

Title

Max Meyer records

Date(s)

  • 1952-1953 (Creation)

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series

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Name of creator

(1876-1953)

Biographical history

First chairman of the FIT Board of Trustees and acting president of the college at his death in 1953.

"Born in Alsace in 1876, Max Meyer immigrated to the US with his family in 1890. The family's decision to move was largely undertaken so that Max could avoid compulsory service in the Prussian army and to improve the marriage prospects for his sisters, one of whom married Abraham Beller, the owner of A. Beller & Co. (established in 1890), a cloak and suit manufacturer. Max's formal education ceased at the age of 14 when he went to work for his new brother-in-law, sweeping the sidewalks and executing other menial tasks. Max quickly earned the trust and respect of his new boss and by the age of 21 was promoted to buyer.

Mr. Meyer made his first trip to Paris in 1897. Meyer later recollected that he believed that he was among the first buyers from American ready-to-wear manufacturers to purchase models directly from the couture houses. Over the course of his 39 year career as a buyer and executive for A. Beller & Co., Meyer visited Paris 110 times licensing designs from top houses including Chanel, Lanvin, Cheirut, Jenny, Paquin, Premet, Callot Soeurs, Worth, Drecoll, Poiret, Patou, and many others. Largely the garments were suits or outerwear, but occasionally dresses, which coordinated with an outerwear garment, were included in their collections.

The A. Beller & Co. adaptations of imported models as well as the company's own original designs were of the highest quality and retailed at high-end department stores. The company's product was considered the gold standard for American manufacturers, and as executives, Beller and Meyer were widely respected within the industry. Meyer, in particular, was heavily involved with various garment trade worker unions and an activist for worker's rights and labor reform. Meyer retired from A. Beller & Co. in 1929 two years before the company would shutter its doors amid the Great Depression.

Meyer's personal involvement with the fashion industries did not end upon his retirement. In 1939, he helped found the Central High School of the Needle Trades to prepare young minds and hands for careers in the fashion industry. The High School would expand to become the Fashion Institute of Technology in 1944." (bio by unknown author)

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(1944-)

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