Friday, June 6, 2008

Grais Leather a Chicago Landmark









Rubin Grais, an immigrant Jew from Russia came to the United States to start a new life. His skills as a shoe maker created a foundation from which sprung forth Grais Leathers, one of the iconic leather jacket manufacturers of the 1940s and 1950s. Mr. Grais transformed his skills in shoes and vests into a wartime contract maker. Grais produced every type of jacket, this beauty was a classic horsehide from the forties. Sportswear with Grace!!! I will post more of the history of Grais through the coming months.

17 comments:

  1. Hi there David, love your blog. Like you i love the old jackets from the 30's thru the 50's. It must have have been an amazing time..if only i could jump into a tardis, go back and pickup a few Grais and Windwards. I wanted to ask about a particular jacket style. I'm trying to find one. But no luck. Aero leather call it the "Windward', a 4 cove pocket that was a civilian jacket from the 50's. I love them. Tough question, but would you know where i can find one? I'm not rich so i cant pay 500 bucks or whatever. my email is leatherpress@gmail.com, my name is Marty and i live in Sydney

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  2. I was writing a story about my grandfather's jacket. I looked up the name in the label and found your site. Grandpa's jacket is still in good shape and I wear it frequently. I have the story, with picture, at http://imperfectreason.blogspot.com/

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  3. I am trying to identify the type of leather used in these old jackets. It was stiff, hard and thick and wore in slowly but I don't know more than that. I want to buy a new one or have it made. I think one like that
    worn by Gene Hackman in "Bonnie and Clyde" is what I want. Can you help? Wayne

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  4. Im glad I found this site!!!,my name is Lenny originally from Cleveland where I started buying and selling vintage clothes,I have always been drawn toward old leathers and now living in Nevada I buy leather almost exclusively...from East West to Bates..Windward...Grais....Brooks of Detroit..I love these jackets and hope to see more people interested in this culture here in the states..I get a lil emotional everytime a Japanese dealer gets one of these treasures from me but hey it's business and the Japanese dealers really appreciate the craft that we just throw away.

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  5. Nice idea to blog about these manufacturers. This one still needs some basic work though: Did Grais remain in original hands until it closed? WHen did it close?

    Thanks

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  6. Jeeze everyone is a critic. I am not here to write books for free. Regardless, I spoke with some of the grand nephews and the company folded under the pressure of cheap foreign stuff. Like many they tried to offshore their productions which turned into a slow wind down. A couple of the family members tried to revive the business,
    but by then it was too late. I would by inaccurate if I quoted dates so I will refrain at this juncture.

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  7. At 73, I just googled Rubin Grace Leather Jackets,
    for some reason... maybe because I mispronounced every other word in my vocabulary...that is how I remember them. It was the late 1940's, Albany Park, and it cost about $38. bucks.
    I think I only lasted a couple of years, before loosing or giving it away. It seemed many kids wore them... A very Chicago thing at Von Stueben H.S.

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    1. I graduated elementary school in 1954, Jerry, and my Grais leather jacket was the graduation present I begged for so that I'd be "in style" for entering Roosevelt High School. In those years if you didn't have a Grais jacket you weren't anybody! I wore that jacket all through high school and would still have it had my mother not thrown it away after I got married. I eloped with someone she didn't approve of (wrong religion) and she was pi**ed, so she punished me. All my original Elvis records, vintage records from WWII that I collected, and my comic book collection that was started when I was 5 went the way of the jacket!

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  8. i am curious how was Grais a Chicago thing...did you guys all buy them in high school? Do you have a photo of you in your jacket?

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    1. My great uncle was Rubin Grais. He was married to my grandmother's youngest sister. His biggest contract was Chicago PD. I have very fond memories of going to the factory and getting a jacket, every year.

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    2. My great uncle was Rubin Grais. He was married to my grandmother's youngest sister. His biggest contract was Chicago PD. I have very fond memories of going to the factory and getting a jacket, every year.

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  9. I had a Grais brown horse hide leather aviator style jacket bought at Jack's Men's Store on Cermak Rd. in Cicero, IL. in 1955 when I was attending Lincoln Junior High in Berwyn, IL.

    I passed it on to a cousin in Waukegan. I think he passed ot on to two of his younger brothers.

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  10. its amazing how these jackets live on...that is why I designed the jackets in the vintage vein of leather jackets!

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  11. Rubin was my great uncle. My great grandfather Itzak was a cobbler in Odessa and Rubin and and then later my grandfather Nate went into jacket/coat making. Rubin did a lot of all black leather and brown leather creations. Many would be considered motor cycle jackets. He worked from a large factory. My grandfather did lettermen jackets from a small shop either behind his home or inside his home.

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  12. Rubin was my great uncle. He came to the US with my great grandfather Itzak who was a cobbler in Odessa. First Rubin and then my grandfather Nate went into jacket/coat making. Rubin did the spectacular all leather coats. My grandfather did letterman jackets.

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    Replies
    1. Eric, Rubin was also my great uncle. Are you a Grais or a Cohn?

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  13. My father had a Grais aviator style jacket when my mother met him in 1951. I wore it in high school and then added patches to it that were from a friend who was a Navy pilot. I am now 44 years old and I wore the jacket out running errands last weekend. People stopped me in every store to ask where I got my jacket and tell me how awesome it is.

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