Opening its flagship store on historic lower King Street just over two years ago was a defining moment for Ike Behar. The luxury men’s clothing line took root in the mind of a teenage boy who worked along side his father, a highly respected tailor in Havana in the late 1940s. Of course, there have been many defining moments in Behar’s half-century career as a tailor, designer and innovator in the world of men’s fine clothing.
From his modest New York City-based shop in the mid-20th century—with his wife Regina at his side—Behar worked for over a decade developing his own techniques. Behar’s reputation for quality and attention to detail in every piece of clothing he crafted ultimately caught the attention of an emerging designer, Ralph Lauren, who wanted to expand his clothing line to include fine men’s shirts. Behar took up the challenge, designing shirts for Ralph Lauren for 12 years.
The early 1980s marked the beginning of an era when Ike Behar, along with his wife and their three sons, Steven, Alan and Lawrence, began manufacturing shirts in Miami under his own private label. In March 1983, Menswear Magazine called this new, up-and-coming, made-in-America brand the industry’s “well-kept secret.” Before the season ended, the secret was out. After a quarter century of hard work, the Ike Behar brand was spreading into fine men’s clothiers and high-end retailers across the country.
The 1980s also began an era when the biggest names in Hollywood called on Behar to fulfill their most important wardrobe needs. Ike Behar shirts made their silver screen debut in The Cotton Club starring Richard Gere. Since then, the company has provided on-screen wardrobes for over 50 films and television shows and for more than 100 different actors.
But even with all Behar’s amazing milestones, opening its doors on King Street made company history yet again. According to Alan Behar, company president, it marked the first time that the entire Ike Behar line came together for sale under one roof.
Today, Ike Behar is a full lifestyle brand across multiple categories. The company’s product line has expanded beyond dress shirts to include sport shirts, ties, sport coats, suits, handkerchiefs, underwear and more. “Although the business has grown tremendously since its inception, our firm commitment to quality and attention to detail have persisted,” says Alan Behar. “With our opening in Charleston, our customers now have a great opportunity to experience the full complement of the Ike Behar brand with all our quality products in one place. We are excited to give them an opportunity to create the total look.”
Experienced craftsmen create every garment bearing the Ike Behar label. “We continue to use our patented diamond-quilted collar, single-needle stitching techniques and luxurious high thread-count fabrics that earned our company its reputation for excellence,” adds Alan Behar. “Our King Street location also gave us our first opportunity to offer custom tailoring to our discerning Charleston clientele. Since opening our doors, our custom program has set us apart in the world of men’s fashion.”
Since launching its flagship store in Charleston, Ike Behar has opened similar shops in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Charlotte, North Carolina, and, most recently, in Coral Gables, Florida. Plans are in the works to open several more stores across the country in the near future. The company operates corporate offices in Miami and New York City.
Alan Behar notes that late last year the American Planning Association named Charleston’s historic King Street one of the 10 Great Streets in America. “We are very pleased to be a part of one of the great streets in America in the number one city in America,” concludes Alan Behar. “We plan to be part of this thriving community for years to come.”
Patra Taylor writes about homes, culture and lifestyle from Charleston.