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Article: Who the Heck is Tom?

Who the Heck is Tom?
family history

Who the Heck is Tom?

I am surprised I don’t get asked this question more often.  Come to think of it, nobody has ever asked me that question! They usually just walk in the door and call me Tom 

I know it’s a mouthful, and that is the reason most people drop the “Tom’s Sons” part and simply call us “International Pleating.” This is the story of how I came up with the name “Tom’s Sons International Pleating” and the significance behind Tom and his sons.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, my family has been pleating fabric since 1931, albeit primarily for ourselves. To be more specific, we were manufacturers that made pleated garments – from start to finish, everything was made in our factory. That continued until approximately 2010. Throughout the years, we have had many different labels and partnerships in the garment industry. However, it was not until recently that we officially offered our pleating services as a pleating contractor to the world.

When my father officially retired, it was not clear whether anyone would continue to carry the torch. My brother followed a different career path early on in life and I, myself, strayed from the industry here and there to start new ventures of my own. The future of manufacturing in the United States has looked gloomy for quite some time now due to outsourcing and overseas production, so I was a bit apprehensive to commit to such a shrinking industry. Things were not looking good for my family’s business until one day, when all of that abruptly changed.

After a long hiatus from New York, my mother called me and asked me to come home to help her make some samples for her new dress collection. At the time, I was living in Florida so I purchased a round trip ticket. I had every intention of returning to Florida. During my stay in New York, something happened that drastically changed all that.

I remember the exact moment when I realized what needed to be done – it was as if I had been slapped in the face. It was at that very moment that I realized my father’s techniques and his father’s techniques and his father’s techniques and his father’s techniques would be lost forever. The culmination of four generations of innovation and knowledge that is retained in my father’s brain would eventually END with him. To me, preventing that from happening was more important than having a cushy job or living by the beach in Florida, so I decided to stay in New York and continue my family’s legacy.

Be Patient. I’m getting to the part about Tom!

So now I am in New York and I am thinking like a manufacturer – “What can I make? What can I make?” “Pleated gowns?” Been there, done that.  “Pleated suits?” No. “Pleated accessories?” No. Then I thought “why not just pleat for others?!” I wanted to help young designers actualize their creations and this way, I could do what I do best – pleat and educate – and I must admit, it’s very rewarding to enlighten and inspire others to create.

Here comes the part about Tom: My father’s first company was called “Tom’s Sons.” It was named after his father, Thomas, and solidified the union between Tom’s three sons – my father, Leon, and his two brothers, Jack and Anthony. They had one of the largest factories in Lebanon and distributed pleated skirts all over the Middle East. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to meet my grandfather but from the stories I’ve been told, he seemed like a very admirable and benevolent man.

Below: A picture of my grandfather Thomas.


Tomas Kalajian, founder of Tom's Sons pleating and textile factory, circa 1950.


Since the name “Tom’s Sons” was a very important name in my family, I really wanted it to be a part of my business, as a tribute to my father, uncles, and grandfather of course. When I showed people my father’s old logo, I always heard the same response:  “It looks dated!” And it definitely did.

Below: A picture of a key chain with my grandfather Thomas and the Tom’s Sons logo.  This key chain was made in 1962, the same year my grandfather passed away.


 Tom's Sons International pleating antique gold keychain

Below: A picture of my Uncle Jack standing outside the original Tom’s Sons factory in Lebanon.

My Uncle Jack standing in front of Original Tom's Sons factory in Lebanon.


I mulled over what our new look should be for months and months. Should I name it something hip and catchy with no meaning or be true to my family’s history? After countless hours in Photoshop, I finally made a decision and came up with our current logo:


 Tom's Sons meets International Pleating Logo

The “International Pleating” part of the name is totally my father’s style so I combined the two and voilá!  To me, it satisfied my goal of connecting the past generations with the future generation.  The photograph I used in the logo is one of my favorite pleated fabrics and I feel it clearly illustrates the concept of “fabric manipulation.”  I have always had a fascination with the results that occur when pleating striped fabric.  Just look at the before and after shots of this fabric below and you will see what I mean:


images of the original fabric pleated for the international pleating logo 

So in short… I am Tom’s son son,  George!

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The Holy Grail of Pleating
family history

The Holy Grail of Pleating

As the story goes, in 1945-ish when my father was approximately seven years old, it was his responsibility to burn wood until it was amber like coal. This was used to keep the iron hot.  Since plea...

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