Almost a year ago I showed off my new Marianne by Serbin golf set. At the time, a lot of what I wrote in my post was guesswork, as I could find very little about Serbin in my resources and on the internet. But as I usually do in these cases, I added to the end of the post that I’d love to hear from the Serbin family.
It took nearly a year, but the worldwideweb came through, and I got an email from Marianne Serbin Freidman, the Marianne whose name is on the label. Marianne very kindly answered my questions, and she sent along some great photos of her family. That’s her father, Lewis Serbin, in the photo above.
My father, Lewis I. Serbin, founded Serbin Fashions in Cleveland, Ohio in the mid-1940’s. My uncle, John Serbin joined the company a few years later.
In his young years Lewis Serbin dropped out of school after the eighth grade to work and help support his family of his parents and eight brothers and sisters. He was raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. When he met my mother who was from Cleveland, they married soon after and moved to Cleveland, and so did his brothers and sisters.
Before founding Serbin Fashions my father had the good fortune of working for Joe Lample of Lample Dresses. Joe Lample mentored many men who also went on to become very successful in the garment business. One of these men was Maurice Saltzman, the owner of Bobbie Brooks.
Serbin Fashions began as a dress company and became quite successful and in 1951, my dad and uncle flew to Miami many times, where they fell in love with the city and decided to buy a factory. Our families moved and extended the invitation to their key employees to move with the company. The Miami apparel industry was thrilled that Serbin Fashion relocated to Miami as it provided more credibility to the Miami fashion industry.
Mr. Serbin then bought a factory in Fayetteville, Tennessee for production. And in later years a very large factory was also built to handle the expansion of the company; making assured that Serbin Fashions was all “Made in America”. Serbin Fashions grew from a small company to a major force in the woman’s moderate dress and sportswear industry.
I do not remember much about Muriel Ryan. She was very talented and designed for Serbin for many years. After she retired I designed everything and handled Public Relations. Leroy Lustig Advertising Agency handled all the advertising, and there was no marketing firm. Babe Didrikson Zeharias designed the golf dresses for several years. She was the “Woman Athlete of the Half Century” and the greatest woman golfer of all time.
As the years passed Serbin had lines of dresses, sportswear, golf and tennis clothing. The company was famous for the Shirtwaist Dress and Sweater Dress and Sportswear. We also had fashion editorials in fashion magazines. The garments were sold in major department stores, mail order catalogues, pro shops and specialty stores all over the United States.
After the death of my father, Lewis I. Serbin, and fifty years of a fabulous business, our family decided to discontinue the business. My dad accomplished so much over his lifetime. Amazing for a man who never went to school beyond the eighth grade.
Written by Marianne Serbin Friedman
“I am the older little girl. My Dad made the matching mother- daughter dresses and also a giant doll with the same dress.”
“My Dad had a golf tournament in Miami Beach which was Babe’s first win after her cancer and he presented her with a trophy topped with a diamond studded metal golf ball..quite a thrill for everyone.”
Serbin Sportswear, as seen at Saks Fifth Avenue in the 1960s.
A big thank you to Marianne for sharing her family’s story.