Carroll & Co. has a long and rich history dating back to the early days of fine retail in Southern California. It all started when Richard Carroll needed a suit for his brother’s wedding. He had to travel all the way to Brooks Brothers in Downtown Los Angeles for a traditional suit of high quality. Believing there was a market on the Westside of Los Angeles for a fine men’s store, he left his job as a Warner Brothers publicist to begin his entrepreneurial career.
With his industry contacts from a 4-year stint as a Hollywood publicist, Richard Carroll borrows $7000 to open a small men’s haberdashery on the second floor of a medical building on South Beverly Dr. in Beverly Hills. With 12 suits, 6 navy blazers, a few slacks, shirts and ties on hand, he immediately gets on the phone to invite his friends over. The response is immediate and the legacy of Carroll & Co. is born.
Six months into his new venture, Richard gets an eviction notice from his landlord, silent film star Corinne Griffith. Figuring there must be some misunderstanding, since the store had a 3 year lease, Richard inquires about the notification, and is told there is too much traffic going in and out of the building to his small shop.
Griffith agrees to give Richard space in her building across the street on Charleville Blvd. The store quadruples in size almost overnight and Carroll & Co. catches on quickly and gains notoriety within the entertainment industry.
Carroll & Co. moves to the top of sleepy Rodeo Drive. Surrounded by hair salons, hardware stores, a gas station, private homes and a bridle path, the now famed street is then a long way from the international shopping destination it is today.
The Hollywood community becomes a driving force behind Carroll & Co.’s growth. The store serves as custom tailors to notable stars such as Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Steve McQueen, Jimmy Stewart, Gregory Peck, Rock Hudson, Paul Newman, Jack Lemmon and Gene Kelly.
In addition to dressing these Hollywood luminaries with their personal wardrobe, Carroll & Co. begins to outfit countless movie and television productions. Actors, newscasters and sports broadcasters are now seen wearing Carroll clothing on both the big and small screen.
Also during this period, Carroll & Co. expands by adding a store in Downtown Los Angeles and one in Santa Barbara. With three prominent stores encompassing the greater Los Angeles landscape, Carroll & Co. now cements it’s standing as the preeminent clothing establishment for men.
Carroll & Co. becomes so popular with television and motion picture industry stylists, that in 1974 the store launched a “Studio Division” to enable costumers to easily shop for their many productions. Some of the television shows that featured Carroll clothing were:
The Rockford Files
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
The Bob Newhart Show
Eight is Enough
The Love Boat
The success of Carroll & Co. for men leads to the opening of a dedicated Carroll & Co. “For Her” next to the existing store. The store relies on many of it’s most important vendors to make and style Carroll clothing with a feminine touch. The new venture is an immediate success.
Also during this time, Rodeo Drive becomes a prime destination for tourists and international visitors to the Los Angeles area. Richard Carroll, along with some of the other successful Rodeo Drive merchants, launches the “Rodeo Drive Committee” in order to handle the newfound publicity and keep the street in prominence. It still exists today.
The classic Carroll look is timeless. Television productions rely on Carroll clothing because they know the styles will be current for new episodes as well as reruns for years to come. Carroll & Co. becomes the clothier to such long-running television series as:
Hill Street Blues
Hart to Hart
Murder She Wrote
Richard’s son John graduates from college and immediately comes to work at Carroll & Co. Having helped out in the store since the age of 11, he is well versed in the day to day operations of the business. He immediately sets out to update the classic look by adding new styles and expanding the sportswear collection to meet the demands of a changing way of dress.
The Southern California lifestyle becomes more relaxed and casual and Carroll & Co. rapidly expands their sportswear offering, working with many American, Italian and British manufacturers to produce items especially for the mild Los Angeles climate.
In addition, the early 1990’s see the beginning of an expanded made to measure business in the store. Carroll & Co. introduces the “Trunk Show” where they insist on manufacturers sending representatives with fabrics from the factories to personally measure clients for individual garments. It is an immediate success and a special section of the store is devoted to “Custom Made to Measure Clothing”.
Television costumers continue to rely on Carroll & Co. for their productions, including:
The X Files
Will and Grace
For the first time ever, the United States is chosen to host the 1994 FIFA World Cup International Football Tournament, or soccer as known in the U.S. Carroll & Co. was chosen to provide the uniforms for the dignitaries, ushers, undercover security detail and volunteers. Carroll & Co. worked directly with the World Cup organizers to design three blazers – navy, green and purple depending on the level of importance. The blazers had a World Cup logo badge at the chest and specialized logo gold buttons. The blazers were paired with a summer beige pant and a navy, green or purple stripe shirt. Over 1000 uniforms were made for both men and women.
As Rodeo Drive evolves into a mecca for corporate establishments and tourist-oriented designer boutiques, Richard Carroll buys a building 2 blocks east on Canon Drive. Carroll & Co. builds a custom store designed to meet the changing needs and desires of its loyal customers and moves to the new location. The store is bathed in natural light, with pale wood cabinets and granite counter tops.
Longtime customer-friends Jack Lemmon and Billy Wilder cut the ribbon on the new store on August 10, 1996 and help greet customers on opening day.
Carroll & Co. is the first menswear retailer outside of Great Britain to be honored with a prestigious Warrant of Appointment from the British Menswear Guild, presented by HRH The Duke of Kent.
The San Gabriel Valley is ripe for a new men’s store and Carroll & Co. answers the call. A prime location on Lake Ave. becomes a new home for Carroll & Co. to cater to their customers in Pasadena, San Marino, La Canada, Glendale and the surrounding areas. The store is welcomed warmly by people who don’t want to travel to Beverly Hills and becomes an immediate success.
Cary Grant wore Oxxford Clothes, as did the Duke of Windsor, Joe DiMaggio, presidents, senators and many icons of industry. Carroll & Co. is appointed the exclusive Southern California retailer for this American symbol of elegance, hand craftsmanship and uncompromising quality.
Servicing an ever-growing need for better quality, fit and value, Carroll & Co. dramatically expands its’ made to measure offerings to include the finest suitings from Italy and America, along with an expansive collection of made to measure dress and casual shirts. The classic American names of Oxxford Clothes and Hickey Freeman are joined with Samuelsohn, Belvest and Castangia to provide customers with a wide selection for suits, sport coats and slacks. Hamilton Shirts, Robert Talbott and Carroll’s own Canon Collection bring a wide range of quality shirtings to their discerning clientele.
There is an ever present need for quality young men’s clothing, furnishings and sportswear in Los Angeles and Carroll & Co. answers with Carroll Prep for Young Men. Working with some of the same vendors who tailor the men’s collection, Carroll & Co. adds a complete line of clothing for boys aged 6 through 18.
After 21 years in the current Canon Dr. location, Carroll & Co. embarks on a dramatic store remodel. By adding new fixtures, removing the large middle piece dividing the store in two, as well as new LED lighting throughout, the store remains true to its classic roots while updating the look to be more open and customer friendly. The new made to measure area provides customers with a more private custom shopping experience with thousands of swatches to choose from. The shoe department has been expanded with new styles and new vendors and there is more room for sportswear. In addition, the windows have been completely remodeled with new extreme lighting, layout and design.