Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Lansky Bros. Mod connection

Lansky Bros. has been a Memphis based, family run clothing shop since 1946. Located in the lavish Memphis Peabody Hotel, they are a one-stop shop for exclusive, unique menswear. It only takes  one glance to convince you that Lansky offers a wide range of quality and stylish threads.

The Memphis Peabody Hotel loby
Their claim to fame is that they were the Clothier to the King, the one and only Elvis Presley. Now what does a Rocker's idol have to do with Mods? Let's consider this. Mods have been known to borrow a thing or two from the Rockers. Take the Harrington for instance; Elvis has been largely responsible for making the jacket popular. And there's no doubt that the Harrington is a well-established Mod essential. It's also a well-known fact that Elvis' own idols, the black jazz and  blues musicians of his native Memphis largely influenced his early style.

The first Lansky store was on the famous Beale Street, home of all the blues and jazz clubs. Bernard Lansky had a direct hand in outfitting the neighboring musicians in the finest mohair or sharkskin suits and peg-leg pants. His famous black clientele demanded sharp, smart and different clothes. On the top of the client list were legends such as Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington and a young prodigy who called himself the Beale Street Blues Boy, later known as B.B. King. Later, soul legends Otis Redding, Rufus Thomas, The Temptations and the O'Jays all walked through the door.

Famous Beale Street, Memphis

We all know how the 60s Mods regarded the American jazz and soul musicians as fashion icons and worked tirelessly to recreate their look. That look was created in part by Lansky. If you are not yet convinced, let me offer this fascinating piece of information. In 1967, the Stax/Volt Revue made their historical trip across the Atlantic and was greeted in London by a legion of adoring Mods. When you look at the surviving footage from the benchmark tour, the four members of Booker T. and the MGs and the Mar-Key horns section looked like a million bucks thanks to Mr. Lansky. They each got two sets of Continental suits, one in electric blue, the other in cat-eye green. Lansky also dressed the seven band members in turtlenecks and Chelsea boots. Now if this isn't pure Mod fashion, I don't know what is. I can only imagine the loyal Mod following studying every detail of their wardrobe and making mental images for future reference.

Coincidently, Lansky Bros. were themselves being inspired by fashions emanating from Carnaby Street, evident by those vintage ads. Bernard Lansky has always been proud by the fact that they were bringing the latest fashion to Memphis. They always saw themselves as being on the cutting edge of fashion.

Vintage ads taken from

When I first came across the Lansky store in Memphis, a Harrington type jacket immediately caught my eye in the storefront window. A nice fitting light jacket was displayed in a choice of teal, red or black. What made the Speedway coat stand out was it's two white vertical lines. That was it. I wasn't leaving Memphis without one. Since I was already wearing a light blue Baracuta, the red jacket was calling my name. There was only one problem; the store was closed for renovations!

Fortunately, I made a quick detour on our last day before leaving and the doors were open. The son of Bernard Lansky greeted me. Just like you would expect, the service was unmatched. I felt like I was treated the same way the King was, with warmth and kindness.

The legendary blue suede shoe and mod favorite, the desert boot 

Today's collection might be geared more towards the rockabilly type but they have a few smart shirts that are worth looking at. Make sure you have a look at their website. They ship worldwide.


  1. VERY cool!! Glad you got to pop in on your last day, looks like they've got some amazing stuff. Sad how shops like this seem to have vanished in the U.S. Growing up we used to call them "old man shops" and in the late 80's I got some great plaid/patterned wool trousers worthy of a Small Faces Decca promo shoot from them as well as some great sweaters. I miss those places!

  2. Sorry to turn this into a chatroom, I was telling a friend about your blog yesterday and this morning he fwd'ed me a link to Lansky's website and they've got some very cool stuff. I almost went for one of the "Speedway" jackets but having snagged a G9 from Baracuta not too long ago I decided to hold off!

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  4. I admire your restraint. I wasn't as strong. :P

  5. Always loved lot of the clothes Elvis wore in the 60`s, the jackets from the film "Speedway" being a firm favourite.