George Kalajian, International Pleater & Couture Designer | Episode 196

Welcome back, Fashion Friends!

This is Holly Katz, your favorite personal stylist, bringing you another thrilling episode of the Fashion Crimes Podcast.

Before we get started, please click over to YouTube to visually follow along with this episode!

In this episode, we’re diving deep into the intricate and mesmerizing world of pleating with a true master of the craft, George Kalajian.

George is a fifth-generation fashion artisan and the creative force behind Tom’s Sons International Pleating in New York City.

His family’s legacy and dedication to the art of pleating have not only preserved this ancient craft but have also propelled it into the future of fashion.

Get ready to explore the rich history, the delicate artistry, and the cultural significance of pleating all while understanding why this endangered art form still matters today.

Introducing George Kalajian and Tom’s Sons International Pleating

In this episode, George Kalajian shares that he represents the fifth generation of his family in the pleating business.

Their company, Tom’s Sons International Pleating, was founded in 1931 in the Garment District in NYC, showcasing a rich history of craftsmanship and innovation.

These skirts were pleated by hand by George’s grandmother. This photo is the oldest record they have of her work.

Georges’s father, Leon Kalajian, holds a pattern for pleating.

The company specializes in various pleating techniques, including accordion, box, crystal, and sunburst pleats, serving high-end fashion designers and major fashion houses.

Just some of the designer brands this company has worked with include:

  • Christian Dior
  • Oscar de la Renta
  • Carolina Herrera
  • Khaite
  • Proenza Schouler
  • Alexander McQueen
  • Brandon Maxwell
  • Sergio Hudson
  • Bach Mai

The Art and History of Pleating

Pleating dates back to ancient civilizations, where it was used for both functional and decorative purposes in clothing.

Throughout history, pleating has been a symbol of elegance and sophistication, seen in garments from Egyptian robes to modern haute couture.

George shares fascinating anecdotes about how pleating has evolved over centuries and the meticulous handwork involved in creating these intricate designs.

This iron was used to create pleats by George’s grandmother, Rosa. She was so successful, that she was earning in one day what the average laborer earned in one month. As a result, her methods became a closely guarded secret. George was not allowed to see her work. He heated the irons on hot coals and could only pass them through a door to his grandmother.

The Significance of Handmade Fashion Items

Handmade items, including pleated garments, represent a unique blend of artistry, tradition, and sustainability. George emphasizes the value of supporting artisanal craftsmanship in an age dominated by machine-made products.

Holly’s conversation continues with George as he highlights how handmade fashion items contribute to a more sustainable and ethically conscious fashion industry.

Challenges Facing the Pleating Industry

Despite its rich heritage, the pleating industry faces significant challenges in the modern era. The rise of fast fashion and mass production has led to a decline in demand for handcrafted pleated garments.

In this episode, George discusses the impact of these changes on traditional artisans and the importance of preserving these skills for future generations.

He is so passionate about this topic that he has launched a new website to ‘reverse the effects of fast fashion. Please check this out:

Why Pleating Matters Today

Pleating is not just a technique, but an art form that adds depth, texture, and movement to fabric.

It plays a crucial role in the world of high fashion, allowing designers to experiment with form and structure. George explains how pleating continues to inspire contemporary designers and its relevance in today’s fashion landscape.

Final Thoughts

What an enlightening journey into the world of pleating!

George Kalajian’s passion and dedication to preserving his family’s legacy remind us of the importance of supporting artisanal craftsmanship.

So next time you see a pleated garment, you’ll appreciate the centuries of tradition and the skilled hands behind it.

Thank you for tuning in to this episode of the Fashion Crimes Podcast.

Remember, fashion is not just about what you wear—it’s about the stories, the heritage, and the artistry behind each piece.

Stay stylish, keep in touch with us on social, and stay informed – see you next week!


Holly Katz
Your Favorite Personal Stylist

Listen now!

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