See? They wore it long, even back then! ------------>
---------- Then there was Hans. The bessere mentshen really went all out and got their kapotes there. Why? because that's where the Rebbe got it. The Yid would come to 770 every once in a while and take the measurements in GEH. Most people only knew he existed because of his relationship to the Rebbe, not because they ever saw the inside of his LES tailor's shop. We won't spend lots of time discussing him, simply because it's almost a Milsa DeLo ShChiCha. I'm not even sure if he's still alive. The point is as follows; I wanted to give the readers a peek into the Lubavitcher Kapote culture, which is why I went into the whole arichus haDevorim and explained what, where and how much. Truthfully, there never was much culture to it; it was very simple no matter where you got it, just like the hat was simple. Most Lubavitchers got the same hat in the same store for the same price, maybe a bit too much. Then "culture" started to make headway even in the sacred minhag of wearing long on Shabbos, and we have yet to see the end of it.
Crown Heights has come a long way since the 70's. For a few decades the only thing you could buy there was groceries, and even that wasn't cheap. If you wanted cheap groceries you went to Boro Park. Even if there was a store that sold women's or baby clothes you didn't shop there because you didn't want the whole shchuneh to know how much you spent on your dress. That may sound like an exaggeration, but it really isn't - or wasn't. You may have bought children's shoes there, but only for a while, while the family was still small. After that you went to BP to wait in line at Schwartz's or Tescher's, just like the rest of klal yisroel... (who says Lubavitchers are different?)I'd say about 95% of men went to Bencraft in BP or Williamsburg to get their hats, either because they wanted their Borsaloinos, or because old man Gelerenter just didn't fulfill their hat needs. The same thing went for kapotes, surduten and sirtuken; someone discovered Hartstein in Boro Park making good kapotes and the word got out. And it was a good thing that Meester Hartshtayn had that niche, since most of the Chassidishe Oylem went to the newer guys on the block; G&G, Roth, Broadway, Royal, Reinhold and Kesser.
Reb Chatzkel Besser, zg"z, right next to Rabbi Chodakov, on the Rebb's left, looking at the camera...
דור הולך ודור בא- a new generation came along and decided that shlepping to BP and the city is no tachlis, so they decided to go at it by themselves. New stores started to sprout out all over the neighborhood, one more chic and hip than the other - which is not always a good thing for a Yiddishe schuneh.... These stores enabled a new generation - many of whom didn't have the hangups and inhibitions of their predecessors - to raise the standard of goods and services available, and shop locally. One of these new stores was a tailor - there's more than one by now - who makes kapotes for young men about to be married. As is often the case some of the entrepreneurs came with new ideas, and the ideas were not necessarily to increase the width of the aisles in the local groceries... Some of these entrepreneurs don't seem to get the idea that some thing just need to be left alone. To them everything is a joke, a challenge, or the basis for a new twist. Some of these people are so adverse to simple clothes that to them the idea of wearing a simple kapote is overwhelming, so they look for ways to get around it, like an adolescent girl who's forced to wear the school uniform, but makes up for it in areas not mandated by the school.
You might say that for me continuing to shop at Mr. Hartstein's store is carrying on the tradition. The new-age kapotes, even the ones that are silk, all have that wool look to them. I guess the idea is not to look too chenyokish, even if you are wearing long. Sort of like not wearing it too long, just around the knees, or maybe a bit above... Another way of showing the world you're no "square" is by getting an orange or red lining in yours. That way you show your friends that you're "cool" and "hip," even if you cannot make a simple Brochoh on the Torah without swallowing half of the words... This many sound like a stretch to some of you hipsters, but you have a big hand in destroying what the Rebbe built with your kapote shenanigans. This may sound like a HUNGARIAN bringing his naarishe shtik to your enlightened world, but then again, it's not like you have anything intelligent that would disprove my theory. The same goes for those new-fangled hats that the young whipper snappers wear; that too is a breakdown of pretty loose rules of dress that Lubavitch has instituted, and that too should not be accepted just because Bencraft and Primo decided it's time to shake things up a bit.
Rav Hertzog and Rav Uziel, z'l, CHIEF Rabbis of Israel