Masters of Reinvention
Paul Fredrick Sacher is one of the five premier catalog merchants of menswear — primarily dress shirts, neckties and cufflinks. If he had 100,000 customers like Franklin Watts, he would be in hog heaven.
Frank Watts was a hard drinking, wildly irreverent and funny traveling book salesman who founded a children’s publishing company in 1945 that bears his name today. The son of a Baptist minister, Watts once said that from his earliest boyhood he was made to wear a shirt and tie every day to be presentable in case a parishioner came to the rectory. All of his life, the only time Watts wore anything other than a shirt and tie was in bed or at the beach.
Watts would’ve gone nuts in the era of dress-down Fridays, not to mention the dot-com culture of jeans and T-shirts. It drove Paul Fredrick Sacher a little nuts, too, but more about that later.
Watts once said: “You can’t pay too much for a suit or too little for a shirt.” He is not only long dead but also dead wrong. As a long-time customer of Paul Fredrick MenStyle, I know the pleasure of opening a shipment and slipping into a truly fine shirt, knotting just the right tie and leaving home feeling like a million bucks.
Like many catalogers, Paul Sacher’s journey to the forefront of fine men’s fashions was circuitous, torturous and serendipitous. Baltimore-born Sacher earned a degree in chemical engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Afterwards, he took an engineering job with a company in the oil recovery business in New Orleans.
The New Orleans weather and social life normally would be ideal for a rambunctious 22-year-old. But he had a problem with that first job — and his subsequent promotion to plant manager the following year. It was a 24/7 commitment, and he despised it. Figuring his career would be enhanced with an MBA in finance and marketing, Sacher left his job and went to Tulane’s Freeman School of Business where he met his future wife, Cathy.