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Tom Leatherwood
 
Historical Markers of Shelby County

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Lansky Brothers Clothier to the King

Lansky Brothers was founded in 1946 by Bernard and Guy Lansky with a $125 investment from their father, S.L. Lansky. The store began at 126 Beale Street as an army surplus store, but gradually changed to accommodate customers interested in a one-of-a-kind look. At the time, Beale Street was the center of the African-American social and music scene in Memphis. Bernard traveled the country looking for unique product. Sometimes outrageous, always years ahead of anything else in town, many of the items were made of bright, vivid colors and silky fabrics. Lansky Brothers quickly became the fashion headquarters to musicians and the clothes savvy, including B.B. King, Isaac Hayes, David Porter, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Rufus Thomas. (Continued on other side) It was Elvis Presley who helped establish Bernard Lansky's "Clothier to the King" title and allowed for global recognition. Bernard recalls looking up one day and seeing a young man looking at his windows. He walked up to greet him and told him, "Come on in and let me show you around." The young man said, "I don't have any money, Mr. Lansky, but when I get rich, I'm going to buy you out." Bernard told him, "Don't buy me out, just buy from me!" Lansky outfitted Elvis for his performances on the Ed Sullivan Show, Dorsey Brothers Show and the Louisiana Hayride. Bernard dressed Elvis in the Pink/Black combination, which defined the cool colors of the '50s era. The Lansky family has cultivated a legacy that is three generations now, and is still operating clothing stores in the lobby of the historic Peabody Hotel.