Nearly 15 years after Britches of Georgetowne closed its doors, the original founder and a longtime designer are back.
On a Wednesday morning, Mark Rykken is driving from New York City to Washington, DC, for a two-hour, custom fitting with a client who is leaving for Florida that night. About 24 hours later, Rykken will hop in his car and make the long drive back to the Big Apple for his next appointment of the day.
This is the treatment one can expect when shopping with custom-clothing company Britches Bespoke, the brainchild of entrepreneur Rick Hindin and longtime designer Rykken.
While the two officially launched the made-to-measure suit business in the summer of 2018, their relationship began in the late 1960s within the flagship location of legendary Britches of Georgetowne on Wisconsin Avenue, with Hindin as the co-founder and Rykken as a 21-year-old salesman.
The brand—longtime Northern Virginians will likely remember the signature warthog stitched into Britches’ polo shirts—was a hit among the local preppy set and grew to a national brand in the 1980s.
“We grew from 28 stores in 1983 to 110 in 1988, and we were really representing the fashion change in 1967 with ready-to-wear clothing,” says Hindin of the original brand. In 1988, four years after Britches entered into an earn-out agreement with public company CML Group, Inc., Hindin left the business, and his then-partner David Pensky followed two years later. By 2002, the once-thriving company filed for bankruptcy.
Now—17 years after the locally based, national chain that was once considered one of the leading retailers on the East Coast shut down—the Britches name is again innovating in the fashion industry, this time with a fresh concept and Rykken as design lead.
“He [Hindin] had been close to taking the intellectual property of Britches in 2015 when he approached me and I said, “Whatever it takes, I am in,’” says Rykken, who now has over 40 years of experience with management and custom design in the fashion industry. “I said to Rick, ‘Why not bring Britches back initially under the brand Britches Bespoke?’ Because that’s what I know, that’s where my clientele is and that’s how to bring it back into the market at the highest level. It was natural, in my opinion.”
From a showroom in Rockefeller Center in New York City, Britches Bespoke tailors “clothing for life,” as Hindin puts it, including custom suits, outerwear, neckwear, shirts and even shoes. Within the showroom, there are three tiers: custom unconstructed intended for millennials ($1,100), made-to-measure, featuring more detail and various style options (starting at $2,500) and full bespoke, which starts at $4,500 depending on the fabric.
As Hindin and Rykken build their clientele, they are looking ahead at plans for growth in the new year. The duo says the immediate goal is to open a second Britches Bespoke showroom in the District. From there, the ultimate plan is to create an online platform.
“We need to get our name back in the marketplace first,” says Rykken. “Our target is a showroom in Georgetown. I mean, that would only make sense. That’s where we started in 1967, and that’s where we hope to continue.”