Time was, every town had cobblers and tailors. Fairy tales and history books alike are replete with references to these noble tradesmen, who kept people “shodded” and clothed. Today, you can still look good in a sharp suit and shiny shoes.
Commerce has evolved from local service providers to department stores, big box retailers and online sites, but, here in Baton Rouge, although old fashioned businesses have become fewer and far between, they haven’t completely disappeared.
Clyde Lawrence is owner of MIlitello’s Shoe Repair, a venerable Baton Rouge business that has been around since 1972. Everybody knows Militello’s and gets their shoes repaired there, or, at least, polished and shined.
Clyde came to Baton Rouge from his native Bossier City to seek his fortune in the chemical plants in the mid-1970s. He stumbled instead into Militello’s and landed a job. He’s been there ever since. In early 2018, he and his wife bought the business from longtime owner Fred Militello, who was retiring. Arguably, no one was better suited to run the service-based business but Clyde, at the time, was himself thinking about retirement. Instead, he jumped in with both feet, took the plunge and today is not only the local tradition alive, he’s growing the business!
Geno Brown is co-owner of Brown and Brown Custom Clothiers.
Geno has been a custom tailor almost his entire career, because Brown and Brown is a family-owned business that was started under the name Fashion Limited, by Geno’s father, the late Eugene Brown, who died in 2019.
Today, Geno and his brother, O’Lindsey Brown, run the company, which was re-branded in 1993 when the Browns moved away from carrying ready-to-made clothes and started making their own custom, handmade garments using fabrics the Browns find on buying trips around the world.
Geno didn’t necessarily intend to be a haberdasher. He went to Morehouse College and graduated from Southern University with dual degrees in math and physics, then taught physics for a year before joining the business. He holds certified master tailor and certified master clothiers designations.
Out to Lunch Baton Rouge is recorded over lunch at Mansurs On The Boulevard restaurant. You can see photos from this show at our website.
Check out Baton Rouge’s other premiere tailor Manuel Martinez.