I. Spiewak & Sons at 105:
A Tradition of Innovation
A native of Warsaw, Poland, Isaac Spiewak came to New York in 1903. His first customers were the dock workers on New York's booming waterfront. He started his company with the goal of bringing his family to America, and as they arrived, eventually all six of his sons joined the firm. Five years after Spiewak’s centennial, it remains a privately-held family business, now under the direction of Isaac’s great-grandson Roy Spiewak.
Spiewak’s company started out in a one-room loft in Williamsburg, but grew in step with America’s own expansion. World War I marked the start of the firm’s business as a military contractor, producing wool coats, jackets and naval breeches for the military. Spiewak introduced its first police jackets in 1923, outfitting the New York State mounted troopers. When World War II came, Spiewak supported the troops by delivering more than one million units of flying suits, bomber jackets, peacoats and other specialized gear.
During the post-War boom, the company broadened its scope of operations. Veterans returning from overseas turned military looks like the bomber jacket and snorkel parka into streetwear, opening up a huge new consumer market for the firm. In the uniform sector, Spiewak adapted its flight apparel to meet the needs of ground crews at American Airlines – and still produces their outerwear 50 years later. The company expanded its manufacturing capabilities with multiple factories across the country. Its Ruleville, Mississippi plant, which just celebrated its 50th anniversary, continues to produce Spiewak’s outerwear to this day.
In 1974, Spiewak outfitted the U.S. Olympic Ski Team, and around this time, its military “systems” jacket set off an avalanche of active/outerwear looks in fashion, many of which are still in vogue. In the mid-Nineties, when an early issue of The Source featured a photo of the rap group Junior Mafia in Spiewak gear, it sparked a workwear explosion that has kept the company at the forefront of street fashion ever since.
In keeping with its founder’s dedication to quality and durability, Spiewak has always made product innovation a central focus of its business. The company has applied decades of research towards improving outerwear performance, working with leaders like DuPont and 3M to perfect advanced insulations and other tech-enhanced outerwear components, as well as creating some of its own proprietary materials. In 1963, Spiewak introduced Titan® cloth as an industrial fabric offering superior resistance to tearing and abrasion plus spark and static-resistance; even four decades later, more industrial workers and airline personnel wear the Titan® parka than
Spiewak has developed high-performance gear for mountaineering, skiing and snowboarding; acid-resistant outerwear for chemical and fuel workers; specialized apparel certified to provide protection against blood-borne pathogens for EMS workers and other “first responders.” Other notable innovations include:
- VizGuard® garments, which became the United States’ first garments dedicated to worker safety and comfort by combining weather protection with reflective and bright safety fabrics.
- WeatherTech® System garments that are water-proof breathable, lock out rain and snow while allowing heat and vapors to escape.
- Spiewak Performance Duty Uniforms (SPDUtm), which combines nanotechnology for moisture repelling and moisture wicking with patented innovations like the hidden cargo pocket and the shirt retention system for unprecedented comfort and features.
Coming from a tradition of innovation, the current offerings highlights the values that keep Spiewak on the cutting edge – at 106 years young.
Click here for an interactive timeline