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HomeGrown: John H. Daniel, Legendary American Tailors

5:01 PM, Nov 23, 2012   |    comments
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Behind the magazine covers, celebrity swag and designer labels, is perhaps East Tennessee's best kept secret.

"We are the unknown tailoring house," said Benton Bryan.

But you've seen their work.

"We tailor clothing for Kirk Herbstreit, Jack Nicholas, Arnold Palmer."

From celebrities and sports stars... even the nation's top brass.

"We tailor the Naval uniforms for Admiral Mike Mullen who was Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff."

John H. Daniel is one of the last tailoring houses left in America.

"We make somewhere in excess of 50,000 suits a year. We ship to all 50 states, Western Europe and England. And, we make garments for about 500 private labels nationwide."

The company was founded by its namesake, John Hanna Daniel, in 1928.

"His concept or idea was to create handmade garments one at a time for gentlemen and sell them to the trade."

Four years later, John H. Daniel moved the business to Knoxville.

"We've been in continuous operation in these buildings since 1932."

Marine Colonel William Coleman Bryan took over the operation and it's still in his family today, three generations strong.

"It's very much a family business."

Siblings Benton and Laura Bryan not only grew up here, they went to work early.

"My brother and I made boxes for many years," says Laura Bryan. "It was a penny a box," said Laura

"Believe it or not, yes, I have actually cut and sewn my own suit together. It wasn't very pretty, but I did do it," said Benton.

But they're not the only family in this business.

"Many years ago we made the decision we were not going to outsource, we were going to in-source and so, we actually recruited tailors from other countries."

Today, tailors from 17 different nations weave together the John H. Daniel brand.

And, Master Tailor Angelo Falco leads by example.

"I am from Italy. My grandfather was a tailor, my father was a tailor, my brother is a tailor, my sister is a dress maker. It is in the family, I would say," says Master Tailor Angelo Falco.

His standard: perfection.

"The attention to details."

For years, John H Daniel crafted the green Master's jacket and even created M.C. Hammer's baggy pants, no shirt suits in the '90s.

"It's not a suit we'd ever thought of before," said Laura.

And, thanks to former UT Head Coach Derek Dooley, the company's now in the business of orange pants.

"We actually had to source the fabric out of England and have it dyed the exact color of orange," said Benton. "It's taken on a life of its own."

These days, John H. Daniel is not only keeping up with fashion, but also technology. Using a computer program, pattern pieces are placed and downloaded.

"It's like working a puzzle all day long."

Still, keeping with tradition, the rest of the garment is created by hand.

"We're the last of our kind. There's only a handful left in this country and this is our home," said Benton.

John H. Daniel,

"We were here when the Old City was new," said Laura.

HomeGrown in Tennessee.

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