On a summer morning in 1946, while attending a convention in Florida, Joseph Haspel Sr. donned one his company’s signature seersucker suits and waded out into the Atlantic Ocean, all the way up to his neck. As stunned beachgoers watched on, Mr. Haspel reappeared on shore, soaked to the stripes, and returned to his hotel room, where he hung up the suit to dry. Just a few hours later he resurfaced at a banquet in that he very same outfit, causing quite a stir amongst the attendees.
Founded in New Orleans in 1909, Haspel was one of the first brands to utilize cotton and seersucker for their tailored collections, forgoing the standard mohair and wool fabrics that were far too cumbersome for the heat of a southern summer. Sr.’s seaside stunt was in line with the brand’s unorthodox approach to summerweight suits, and it was the initial step in Haspel’s evolution towards the wash and wear suit.