It just wouldn’t be fitting to say, “The hat world has lost one of the greatest.” Surely, he was one of the greatest, there’s no question about that. However, we’ve gained so much more than what we’ve lost, and we have Ruben Spitz to thank. For those of you fortunate enough to have met or have worked with Ruby first hand, surely you’ve learned a thing or two. He had more to share than just a vast knowledge in the hat business. Ruby spoke with his heart and was straight forward with everyone. You didn’t want to cross him, for Ruby was the survivor.
Ruby’s childhood wasn’t easy. Surrounded by war and hardship, he was forced to ‘become a man’ and at a very young age. He joined the Polish resistance to fight against the Nazis in combat. Often fighting with only his bare hands, he came out on top. Ruby had one option and that was survival.
He then made the trek across the Atlantic at the age of 20 to arrive in New York in 1950.
I was broke, not a dollar to my name,
I had nothing.
However, Ruby had grit. He had determination, guts, and a strong work ethic. He soon took a job sweeping floors in a hat factory. Ruby taught himself how to sew, how to repair broken machinery, and eventually he was able to perform any task that was required to keep the factory running.
In 1960, Ruby moved on to open his own hat factory with the $5,000 that he had saved. His perseverance was a trait which he possessed early in life, and he never lost it. Nobody gave him anything. He created what he had from the ground up.
What he created was genuine and authentic. You could feel this as soon as you walked onto his factory floor. There was a strong sense of nostalgia in the air. The humming of well-oiled machinery, running strong and long, constantly speaking to you; telling you stories, much like Ruby himself. You almost didn’t want to leave. And, he would never ask you to, either. This was his home.
Ruby loved his work as did everyone else. He was a creator, an innovator, and a dreamer. He loved coming up with new ideas and working with like-minded people. You could tell that he enjoyed the camaraderie, but it also meant there was more work to be done. He was a doer.
“In the late 1950s, my grandfather started working with Ruby and his factory. My father would continue to work with Ruby upon taking over the family business and I would go on to do the same.” – Ben Goorin.
Never Give In, Never Give Up,
and Never Surrender
He was proud of what he had accomplished and he would do whatever it took to see it through. When the economy dipped and business got slow, he got better. If they took his ideas, he improved them. When production moved overseas, he made sure that American Cut & Sew remained accessible and at its very best. It wasn’t easy. American factories which once thrived, were closing overnight. Ruby wasn’t immune to the times. He held on to what he had built, often sleeping on the factory floor and once again, he persevered.
What Ruben Spitz did for the hat industry was profound. It didn’t happen over night, but rather through decades of hard work. We are fortunate that he was so steadfast and determined. We have all benefited from his will to survive and Ruby will live on through his legacy. We are committed to sharing his stories, passion, and determination as a reflection of our own core values.
When product design often imitates rather than innovates, we continue to approach each piece with a fresh perspective. Trying out new ideas and materials, we’re doing what’s right in order to create reliable hats for reliable people. We’re confident that Ruby would approve.
We can’t thank Uncle Ruby enough, for everything that he had accomplished for the hat community. We thank him for sharing life’s lessons, quality conversation over coffee in the morning and vodka in the evening; for keeping it real, and proving first hand the importance of never giving up.
Legends last forever.