They did the shirts for Heat man. – Ken Stauffer.
Being a Bespoke Client of Anto Shirts
In the latest episode of the podcast I speak to the man behind @oceansographer Ken Stauffer about being a bespoke client of Anto Shirts. and he even made some enquires about the snakeskin shirt seen on Brad Pitt in Ocean’s Eleven. The podcast is available to listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify or in the player below. Some moments of the podcast are transcribed below.
PB: Please give us a brief history of what you know about Anto Shirts.
KS: Let me start my own history. I first discovered that Anto had made shirts for Ocean’s Eleven probably about six months after the movie came out. There’s an article in GQ or Esquire and so many people had requested to know where some of the clothes had come from and all the shirts on the stars from Clooney, Pitt, Elliott Gould, Andy Garcia. They were all made by Anto. I want to give you a bigger history on Anto.
They have made shirts for Hollywood for many decades now. Anto Sepetjian started the business in his native Lebanon and Beirut in 1955. But he brought it over to California in 1976.
And since then, Anto has been a shirtmaker to the stars, Hollywood executives, you name it. One of his biggest clients over the years have been Robert Redford.
Basically, anytime you see Redford in a shirt, you know from the late 70s onward, it was made by an Anto. They just have a huge client base of A listers.
PB: Who is running the business these days?
KS: Anto is obviously no longer with us. But his sons Jack and Ken came into the business in 1983. And they still run it to this day. Jack, is the main person to deal with for measurements and styling and ordering. Ken really runs the production facility, the physical making of the shirts, it all runs under him. Everything they do is in California as well. So they have a showroom in Beverly Hills, maybe about 1000 square feet.
It’s kind of a standard storefront, where they have 1000s and 1000s of fabrics. Jack is there most days, he knows all of them off the top of his head. But their production facilities is in Sherman Oaks. And this old bank building, it used to be a Wells Fargo Bank. It’s multiple levels.
PB: What’s it like inside?
KS: It’s huge, open air. You know, a lot of folks with sewing machines actually making the product right there. But the most impressive thing about it is they left the old bank vault. Like I said, they’ve been making shirts for decades for Hollywood. But they’ve also been in I think it was in the 80s they acquired Nat Wise. Nat Wise was another very even older Hollywood shirt maker. They made Cary Grant’s shirt for North by Northwest.
They made shirts for the Rat Pack, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr etc. Anto have a very storied history, but they basically were merged after them going out of business in the 80s. And so all of those records exist in the vault as well.
You walk in with bookcases filled with these manila envelopes, and they’ll say, you know, Michael Douglas or Brad Pitt or Bradley Cooper, you know, whatever.
PB – Have you been in there?
KS: I have it’s something to do by special arrangement. If you’re going to start out buying from Anto Shirts just go to the Beverly Hills showroom. That’s where you’re gonna get served and they’ve got photos and they’ve got records and you can find what you need. However, if you’ve been a client for a little while and you’re very curious, then they might show you the vault.
PB: Talk about your own personal experience as a bespoke customer.
KS: Yeah, so I’ve been in bespoke customer for a little while now. Because of my obsession with the Ocean films. I started with Clooney shirts from Ocean’s Eleven and then kind of branched out from there. They have all these records, but they’re not just measurements and like fabric numbers.
Every time they make an order they cut off a swatch of fabric bolt and tape it on. So they have the visual record of everything they’ve made forever.
When I was trying to replicate some of these shirts, even in Beverly Hills. I said what I was looking for, they send the guy into the vault, they take some photographs, they send them back to Jack. Jack runs the business and he immediately recognised all of them. Some have been discontinued, some may be off the rack, others will be Special Order.
PB: And what is Special Order?
KS: Bolts they don’t just have on the rack. But they know it’s still made so they can get it. It’s pretty wild. Like they have over 10,000 fabrics. Its mostly cotton, silk, anything. Oh, and ties. They did the tie for North by Northwest. That tie is also from Nat Wise.
PB: How many shirts are you allowed to have on a minimum bespoke order with Anto Shirts?
KS: The minimum is four. And I’ll admit they are pricey. It’s $375 per shirt. That’s where they start.
PB: They made the Snakeskin shirt for Brad Pitt in Ocean’s Eleven didn’t they?
KS: I actually asked him about it recently to see if they can replicate it. The problem is that Jeffrey Kurland the costume designer actually sourced the snakes and gave the skin to Anto Shirts so they don’t have the snake skin. There’s a tailor that Kurland uses to make his suits for films called Dennis Kim.
PB: So it’s a family business still at Anto Shirts?
KS: It’s all family affair. If you just email them the main customer service guy and business development sales is Anthony, who is Anto’s grandson. He’s Ken’s son, great guy. He coordinates everything. And he’s really the main point of contact. So it really is all done in LA, by that family to this day.
PB: What other shirts from movies have Anto Shirts made?
KS: Let’s start with some of the big names here. Like Pacino. De Niro. They did the shirts for Heat.
PB: Oh, God love them.
KS: They did Casino as well. Inception, There Will Be Blood. La La Land. Oh, I mentioned Robert Redford before. Many of his films, he’s wearing it but maybe some of the best looking ones are in Indecent Proposal. They did The Game. Every franchise you can think of like The Avengers, X Men, Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Mission Impossible Fallout, they’ve actually done a lot of Tom Cruise films. Jurassic World, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, they made that.
PB: We should try and get them on the podcast, I’m sure they’re just too busy though right?
KS: I know, but they’re literally always at full tilt. They’re always working. I visited Sherman Oaks and they 50 machines running constantly.
(If anyone from Anto Shirts is reading this, we’d love to have you on the show. Please get in touch fromtailorswithlove(at)gmail.com)