Lansky's, Elvis & That Johnny Cash Myth

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lansky Here at Thomas Dean design, we are fascinated by style. We live and breathe it. We dive into archives and we love meeting clothiers who share the same passion for design, cut and style, like Julie Lansky, granddaughter of Bernard Lansky, Clothier to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Memphis, Tennessee, wander over to The Peabody Hotel and discover a shop called Lansky at The Peabody. Why? Because as any resident of Memphis will tell you, this is where one young star got his start fashion-wise and who wouldn’t want to shop where Elvis discovered his style. As one of the most famous artists in the world, why did Elvis choose Bernard Lansky? What was his favorite color? What are some of the current hot trends? We sat down with Julie to learn more about Lansky’s, Elvis and fashion. TJ: How did Elvis first start working with your grandfather? [caption id="attachment_226" align="alignleft" width="329"]We think Elvis would have loved this pink Thomas Dean shirt. The Paisley cuffs would play well with crisp black trousers. We think Elvis would have loved this pink Thomas Dean shirt. The Paisley cuffs would play well with crisp black trousers.[/caption] Julie Lansky:   At the time, Elvis was working at an usher at Loew’s theatre across the street from the original location on 126 Beale Street.  Bernard and young Elvis struck up a conversation. "He looked in the window and said, 'You have some nice stuff in there,'" Bernard recalls. "'When I get rich, I'll buy you out.' I said, 'No, don't buy me out, just buy from me.'" Elvis was an usher at Loew's theater at the time. He cashed his paycheck and made his first purchase, a $3.95 shirt. Later, while still attending L.C. Humes High School, he had the tailor create an ensemble set of black pants, pink coat and pink-and-black cummerbund for the junior-senior prom. "He always wanted to be the belle of the ball," Bernard remembers. TJ: Did your grandfather bring Elvis a selection of clothing or did Elvis come to the store? Julie: Elvis shopped in the store at first.  Sometimes, we’d shut the store down when he’d come in.  Sometimes, we’d open the shop at midnight to accommodate his schedule.  A few times, if you were lucky to be shopping at Lansky’s when he came in, he might buy your clothing for you.  My grandfather would deliver clothes to Elvis to pick out.  Also, my dad at age 16 would deliver clothes out to Graceland as well. TJ: There is a rumor that Johnny Cash bought his first black suit at your store. True? Julie: Johnny Cash came in the store holding a Prince Albert can.  He asked if we could make him an outfit like the man on the can.  My grandfather tailored a black cutaway tuxedo jacket and pants for him. TJ: What was Elvis's favorite color? Pants cuffed or uncuffed? Anything unusual that he liked in his clothing? Julie: My grandfather flipped his collar up just to give him a little attitude to his outfit but Elvis was concerned that it was going to mess up his hair.  My grandfather convinced him otherwise and that’s how Elvis started flipping his collar. TJ: Switching gears a little. . .What are the current trends in menswear? Julie: Wearing unconstructed sport coats with denim. TJ: Do colors for clothing come and go? For example, what is the color of the moment? Julie:  We’ve always been into color at Lansky’s.  We like anything bright so for our store and our style, we prefer brights, especially in the spring/summer.  We also like anything paisley. TJ: Who are some of the other celebrities who shop at Lansky's? Julie: You name it, if they’ve been to Memphis, they’ve most likely popped into the shop to shop.  Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Isaac Hayes, Chris Isaak, John Rich (Big & Rich), Katie Couric, Steven Tyler, Robin Williams, Sam the Sham, Robert Plant, ZZ Top, Pat Boone, Carrie Underwood, Gavin DeGraw, Dave Matthews, TG Shepherd, Tom Petty, B. B. King, Michael Jackson, Beach Boys, David Porter, Brooks & Dunn, Alabama, Jonas Brothers, Nicholas Cage, Avett Brothers, Darius Rucker, Van Morrison and Matchbox 20. We’ve had athletes, musicians, reality stars, movie stars. . . You never know who is going to walk through the doors. TJ: What are some of your favorite places in Memphis? Julie: Rendezvous BBQ across the street from the hotel in an alley.  Arcade for Breakfast (Memphis’ oldest restaurant), Huey’s for a good burger… TJ: Being in Memphis, do you see a difference in style geographically than say New York or Los Angeles? Julie: Since we’re located in the Lobby of The Peabody Hotel, we see so many different styles walk through our doors.  Yes, the South is a little more preppy and conservative.  But, we get people from around the world so we outfit our shop with a lot of different looks. TJ: What is the best piece of advice you learned from your grandfather? Your father? Julie: I learned the art of the sale and selling from my grandfather and how to buy and the business side from my dad.  My grandfather was able to talk to anybody about anything.  He had a way of making everyone feel comfortable with him. TJ: What makes a stylish man or women? Julie:  Confidence and the attitude to pull it off. TJ: What is that great smell when you walk in the door? Julie:  On the counter we have several bottles of cologne for sale.  One of them is Lenel.  It’s a brand that dates back over fifty years (and we’ve always carried it).  We tell our customers that Lenel is what Elvis wore.  So almost immediately, people spritz it so they can smell like Elvis! Visit Lansky's at The Peabody Hotel at 149 Union Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee or shop online at To purchase the pink Dobby Weave Solid ButtonDown Sport Shirt, click here.


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