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Henry Grethel

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Nationality  American
Education  Syracuse University
Role  Fashion designer
Name  Henry Grethel
Occupation  Fashion designer

Henry Grethel suinnycgivingsyreduassetsimgalumniprofiles
Born  November 20, 1931 (age 84) (1931-11-20) Syracuse, New York
Awards  Syracuse University Icon of Style Award, 2009, Membership in the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America, Chosen by United States Olympic Committee to design team outfits for the 1992 Team USA
Labels  Henry Grethel, John Henry

Henry grethel 2013 arents award recipient

Henry E. Grethel (born November 20, 1931) is an American fashion designer, merchandiser and marketer. He was born in Syracuse, New York, and is known for his elegant American sportswear collections which make use of sophisticated colors and fine fabrics. Since 1978, when his first collection debuted, Grethel has focused on the design and manufacture of handsome, well-styled, tailored apparel for both men and women. He also spent many years designing shirts for Lanvin (clothing), Pierre Cardin and Christian Dior


Grethel was an early leader in business casual wear and a creative force in clothing design that suits the needs of today's consumer. In addition to holding executive positions with such major apparel companies as C. F. Hathaway Company, Eagle Shirtmakers, and Manhattan Industries, Grethel originated and developed the John Henry brand of men's and women's wear. He then debuted his own collections for men and women with his interconnected trademarks—Henry Grethel, Equipment by Henry Grethel, Henry Grethel Platinum, and Henry Grethel Studio.

Grethel is currently launching a new line of men's sportswear and dress shirts which can be seen at his website,

Early life

Henry Grethel was born in 1931 and was youngest of five children. He is the son of Frederick Grethel (1888–1967) of Syracuse and Mary Elizabeth Mellen (1893–1976) of Williamstown, New York. Together, Fred and Mary had five children, in order: Leona Grethel (born 1917), Carolyn Evelyn Grethel (1918–1997), Anna Mae Grethel (born 1921), Frederick W. "Fred" Grethel, Jr. (1923–1944) and Henry E. Grethel (born 1931). Henry was raised on Ross Park on the city's North Side. His father, the son of German immigrants, was a "master plumber" and owned his own plumbing shop in Syracuse.

Frederick Grethel Sr. (1888–1967), Henry's father, was the son of Gustave M. Grethel (1849–1916) who was born in April 1849, in Baden Wuerttemberg, Germany. By October 17, 1887, Gustave was a member of the Baker's Union in Syracuse.

When Henry was 12, his older brother, Sergeant Frederick W. Grethel, Jr., 22, a glider pilot during World War II, was killed in action on June 19, 1944, in the American airborne landings in Normandy. He was a member of the U.S. Army, 401st Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division and was awarded the Purple Heart. Fred was buried in Colleville-sur-Mer, France at the Normandy American Cemetery.

Henry graduated from North High School in Syracuse in June 1949. By September 1950, he was a student at Centre College located in Danville, Kentucky. He transferred to Syracuse University in September 1951, and attended the College of Business Administration where he was a marketing major. His major field of study was "sales marketing." He graduated from Syracuse in June 1954, at age 22 with a Bachelor of Science degree and was selected as "Outstanding" student in the field of marketing. The selection was based on his scholastic record as well as his contributions to the college in his field of study.

During his years at Syracuse, Grethel was social chairman of Sigma Chi Fraternity, a popular organization on campus, and was treasurer of the American Marketing Association.

He worked his way through college with a sales job at Wells & Coverly, a stylish men's clothing store located on South Salina Street in Downtown Syracuse, now defunct.

Fashion career

While in college, Grethel interviewed with C. P. Hathaway Company, a designer and manufacturer of men's shirts, however, he accepted a "practical" position with Recordak Corp., subsidiary of Eastman Kodak Co. in New York City where he spent 2½ years "microfilming" records.

All the while, Hathaway recognized the talent and continued to call; Grethel finally quit his job at Eastman Kodak and accepted the position with Hathaway in 1957. The company offices were located in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he quickly relocated.

His first position at Hathaway was in sales, however, he soon moved on to become Hathaway's chief designer and marketing director.

In 1965 he was promoted to product manager of the Hathaway "Club Line." Shortly after, he was promoted to product manager and stylist for the company's dress shirt division. By 1968, Grethel was appointed to a newly created position at Hathaway, by then a division of Warnaro Inc., as vice-president of merchandising and marketing.

Along the way, Grethel made his mark in innovative dress shirt design, updating the images of the companies he worked with, and becoming president of Eagle Shirtmakers in 1971.

In July 1973, Grethel, 41, was named president of the Manhattan Shirt Company.

During 1974, he introduced John Henry shirts and by fall, 1976, the John Henry for women line was launched.

Grethel's name was seen first on other labels: Henry Grethel for Lanvin, Henry Grethel for Pierre Cardin. However, his big break came in 1978 when, as president of Manhattan Shirt Company, he started designing for his own label, first a men's collection, then women's, sportswear and dress wear.

In 1995, he was president of Henry Grethel Apparel, part of Hartmarx Corp.

By 2005, Grethel was president of HG Design International, Henry Grethel Apparel. The firm designs clothing in classic design that are good-looking, comfortable and versatile - "just beautiful clothes" - is how Grethel describes his design sensibility.

1992 U.S. Olympic Team Designs

After viewing some of his sketches, the United States Olympic Committee invited Henry Grethel to design and oversee production of both the winter and summer parade uniforms for Team USA in the 1992 Olympics. Separate outfits were designed by Grethel for the opening ceremonies of the XXV Olympiad winter games in Albertville, France and the summer games in Barcelona, Spain.

The winter designer garbs were described as having an air of casual elegance that was distinctive and sophisticated, yet at the same time, fun. Grethel chose colorful shades of berry, frost and cobalt which are stylish versions of red, white and blue trimmed with gold. He had his hand in the design of overcoats, pants, hand-knit sweaters as well as accessories such as fedoras, leather gloves, boots and stadium scarves.

According to Grethel, "My goal was to create clothing of which the athletes and the country could be proud."

To make the summer uniforms feel as cool and comfortable as possible in the Barcelona heat, Grethel selected the lightest cottons and tropical wools, and cut the garments with a loose, easy fit. The color scheme of the parade uniforms is patriotic, drawing inspiration from American flag colors, but not using the expected hues. "Brighter and more fashionable -- the palette of the summer uniforms is cornflower blue, fuchsia and white," Grethel said.

Grethel spent 15 months translating his vision from paper to final design. His first sketches, a cross between a "sophisticated ski ensemble and the flight jackets worn by American astronauts", were rejected.

"They were designed to look very all-American, but the committee feared terrorist attacks," according to Grethel, referring to concern about anti-American sentiment. Grethel went back to the drawing board and came up with an Italian-inspired wardrobe in a palette of cranberry and purple-navy.

The opening parade is the most viewed event of the Games, and the 1992 winter event attracted over 1.5 billion viewers worldwide. Incredible as that sounds, an audience of 3.5 billion people were watching when the parade uniforms made their international debut in the summer opening ceremonies in Barcelona, Spain in June, 1992.


Since his early years at Syracuse University, Henry Grethel was considered an innovative, creative force. By the time he graduated in June, 1954, he had been named the "outstanding student" in the field of marketing.

In 1998, he was presented the Syracuse University Outstanding Alumni Award.

Grethel has received numerous honors for marketing and design, including membership in the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), whose membership consists of more than 280 of America's foremost fashion and accessory designers. CFDA membership is by invitation only and includes many prominent designers including Oleg Cassini, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauran and Donna Karan.

He was selected to design the opening ceremony uniforms for Team USA at the Albertville and Barcelona Olympic games. He was awarded the Tiffany trophy from the U.S. Olympic Organizing Committee for his stylish parade uniforms for the Winter Games.

On June 8, 2009, Henry Grethel received the Icon of Style Award from Syracuse University. For Grethel, who has been honored many times during his long career, this was a special award; "There have been only a handful of moments in my career that have touched my heart and for which I am forever grateful: 1) when I first created the John Henry line; 2) when I first designed my own Henry Grethel collection; 3) when I became the first designer to create uniforms for the U.S. Olympic team (and especially seeing the team at opening ceremonies in Barcelona proudly sporting those uniforms); and 4) receiving this Icon of Style award from my alma mater."

Personal life

He was married to Arlene J. Grethel and had five children who were raised in Wilton, Connecticut. The couple divorced in 1983 and he married a second time to Anna Grethel in June, 1984.

Two of his children are also Syracuse University alumni, David Grethel '82 and Michele Grethel '88. Son, Todd Grethel '83 was a graduate of Fashion Institute of Technology.


Henry Grethel Wikipedia