Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Clothing store Mohan's makes 'kosher' men's suit for Jewish holidays
The suit fits and it looks great — but is it kosher?
For Orthodox Jewish men, that is an important question, and one local menswear retailer is providing the answer.
Just in time for Rosh Hashanah, custom tailor Mohan's, in midtown Manhattan, is selling a "kosher suit" that complies with Jewish law.
Believe it or not, just as there are dietary rules forbidding the mixture or milk and meat, there is a law that prohibits wearing a mixture of wool and linen (Deuteronomy 22:11). That forbidden combination is called shatnez.
Following the law can be a hassle. Suits must be tested in a special laboratory. Relying on the fiber content listed on a garment's label isn't good enough. If shatnez is found, it must be removed.
While testing costs a nominal fee of around $10, tailoring the garment can be pricier depending on what is required. The whole process can take a week or more.
Enter Mohan's. Spotting an opportunity, about a year ago the retailer situated on E. 42nd St. started selling custom-made suits, pre-tested and certified as shatnez-free.
Kosher customers pay nothing extra for Mohan's suits which cost anywhere from $500 to $5,000.
"We have a lot of Orthodox Jewish customers," said KJ Singh, sales manager at Mohan's. "We told them we can make a kosher suit for them."
The most common place shatnez is found is in the collars and breast pockets of men's suits. Linen canvas might be sewn or glued in to help them hold their shape.
Mohan's was able to find a substitute fabric at a store on Delancey St.
We found a special canvas without linen, with the same properties as linen," Singh said.
So far, Mohan's has sold about 500 shatnez-free suits. Orders are coming in now for Rosh Hashanah, which begins at sunset on Sept. 28.
I have to deliver 20 suits by Sept. 25," Singh said.
For some, the idea sounds appealing.
If I knew I could walk out of the store and wear the suit, it would save me time, money and inconvenience," said Rabbi Yosef Blau, senior spiritual advisor at Yeshiva University.
If only securing High Holiday seats were so easy.