Empire Clothing’s rich history and lengthy presence in the Montreal men’s clothing landscape is one of the factors that make this company so unique. The company was started by three brothers who had moved from Romania to Montreal in search of a better life. They recognized a need in the market for ready-made tailored goods and started a business. Today, third-generation owner Ron Leibovitch runs the business, with his daughter Amanda Leibovitch by his side. They continue to modernize the company to ensure that it thrives for generations to come.
Empire Clothing was founded in 1917 by Joseph, Harry and Abraham Leibovitch. They were born in Romania. At the young age of 17, Joseph and his brothers decided to leave their home country and move to Canada to explore the opportunities that North America had to offer. At the time, Montreal was a thriving and bustling center of trade and commerce. They started as peddlers, buying suits and jackets from various companies, and selling them from a horse and buggy direct to individual farmers all around Quebec. After sometime the three brothers saw a need for manufacturing ready-made garments to supply local merchants in Montreal and surrounding communities. They decided to name their new enterprise Empire Clothing Manufacturing Company, as Canada was still part of the British Empire. The company was incorporated in 1929. In 1932, they opened up their first manufacturing facility in a small town in Quebec, Canada where they employed 100 people. Their business grew, and soon Empire suits, coats and other garments were being sold in stores throughout Canada.
Joseph and Abraham passed down the company to their children, Edgar, Morty, Edward and Sydney. Eventually Edgar and Morty bought Edward and Sydney’s shares in the company, and took over the business. At the young age of 22, after studying Factory Management at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, Edgar’s son Ronald joined the business.
As policies and technologies improved for international trade, Empire decided to seek out new international opportunities. With a much larger population than Canada, and a thriving economy, the company decided to focus its efforts on their neighboring country, the United States. In 1981, Empire bought the Rubin Brothers label as this tailored clothing brand had a large following in the United States. The acquisition allowed Empire to break into the US market. In 1995 and then the early 2000’s the company licensed the brands Tommy Hilfiger and Kenneth Cole for the Canadian market. In 2007, the company was presented with an opportunity to license the Peter Millar brand, primarily for the US market. To the present day, this partnership has continued to reach new heights.
Today, the company is owned by Joseph’s grandson, Ronald Leibovitch. His daughter, Amanda Leibovitch joined the business in 2019 after completing a Masters of Business Administration at the University of Toronto. The market for Empire Clothing has grown considerably since Joseph’s day. Today, the factory which is still located in Montreal, Quebec employs 330 people. You can now find the highest quality suits, jackets, tuxedos, topcoats and outerwear from Empire hanging in higher end stores throughout Canada and the United States, sold under the same Empire brand that the Leibovitch brothers created in 1917.