Somewhere stashed in Richard Derwin’s attic is a painting of him that is aging a la the famed portrait of Dorian Gray. Full disclosure: I met Derwin when he hired me to work for him at Lund’s University Shop in Syracuse, where we both attended college. He was a slim, well-dressed, white-haired man with a broad grin. Half a century later he looks exactly the same.Retail is in Derwin’s DNA and he wears it well. R. Derwin Clothier has been on the green in Litchfield, Conn., for more than 25 years and still going strong. This is the man behind—and in front of—the name. His love of clothing and retail dates back to his childhood.
Derwin was born and raised in Syracuse and began working at Lund’s while still in high school. What better place to work if you loved clothes? After college, he went into the military and went back to working at Lund’s. A few months later, he set out for California, where he did merchandising for a group of West Coast stores. While there, he was contacted by Bloomingdale’s, then one of the most prestigious stores in the country and part of the Federated group of department stores.
“I was hired to replace a man who had been there 35 years,” Derwin said. “It was the first time they had brought in someone from the outside for such an important position. I went as the men’s clothing buyer and two years later I was in charge of all men’s furnishings.”Although Bloomingdale’s carried numerous labels, Derwin began developing private labels in his areas. After three-and-a-half years, he decided to explore new territory and moved to Europe to explore new resources.