Originally created 08/12/01

Clothes fit for a 'King'



MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- It can be hard to find that perfect Elvis-style shirt - something in pink and black with a tall collar, say, or a velvet number with puffed sleeves. That's about to change.

Lansky Brothers of Memphis, "the clothier to The King," has teamed with Elvis Presley's estate to produce a line of clothes inspired by Elvis. The fashions are expected to include pegged slacks, boxy sport coats and other 1950s styles.

In the '50s, clothier Bernard Lansky helped Presley develop the fashion sense that made the budding king of rock 'n' roll stand out from the crowd, and the store already carries a line of Elvis-esque fashions.

The new venture will place the line in stores around the country and abroad. The estate will also allow the use of "Elvis Presley" on the clothing labels and in advertising.

This time of year - near the anniversary of Presley's death - Lansky's styles are particularly sought-after. Several thousand Elvis fans are expected in Memphis next week for a week of concerts, dances and fan club meetings.

The Elvis Presley estate hopes the clothing line will appeal to more than just Presley fans.

"We hope for the kids who right now are wearing the '50s retro look, it will appeal to them," said Carol Butler, the estate's director of licensing.

The Elvis look won't come cheap: One of the most popular shirts Lansky carries now, styled in black and pink, goes for $125. A black velvet evening shirt accented with red lame lightning bolts sells for $150.

When Elvis was shopping with the Lanskys, the store was on Beale Street. Now it's in the Peabody Hotel, a few blocks from the entertainment district.

The original Lansky Brothers store has been turned into Elvis Presley's Memphis, a Beale Street nightclub and restaurant run by the Presley estate.

Lansky said he first met Presley when the future star was a teen-age usher at a theater near Beale Street. At the time, the Lanskys were popular with many Beale Street entertainers.

"Elvis would come by and just look in the window," Lansky recalled. "I said, 'Come on in, young man, and let me show you around.'

"He said, 'When I get rich, I'm going to buy you out.' I said, 'Don't buy me out. Just buy from me,' and he never forgot me."

Presley continued to shop at Lanskys the rest of his life. Bernard Lansky picked out the white suit and blue tie he was buried in.

Presley, an abuser of prescription drugs, died at age 42 at his Memphis residence, Graceland, on Aug. 16, 1977.

The highlight of the anniversary week is a candlelight procession past Presley's grave at Graceland. It begins Wednesday and lasts through the night.

On the Net:

Elvis Presley's Graceland: http://www.elvis.com/

Lansky Brothers: http://lanskybros.com/