A private graveside service was held Friday for bridal industry veteran Jon Levkoff.
The longtime Bill Levkoff Inc. executive died on March 1 at his Manhattan apartment from what was a heart-related condition, according to his son Brett, who serves as the company’s president.
Born in New York City and raised in Scarsdale, New York, Jon Levkoff grew up in the garment industry. His father Harold, who was known as “Bill,” first served as treasurer and a stockholder of Coquette Formals, a bridesmaid and party dress manufacturer in 1940. Decades before designer bridesmaid dresses would become the norm, Coquette Formals’ frocks retailed for $6.95 each. The Levkoff family patriarch sold his stake in Coquette Formals and resigned from the corporation in 1945. With his wife Janet, he established Bill Levkoff & Co. to focus on bridesmaid dresses. The New York City-based company was run from a showroom at 1415 Broadway.
Jon Levkoff didn’t start his career at Bill Levkoff. He first worked in the menswear buying department at Saks Fifth Avenue before joining the bridesmaid dress business in the ’40s or ’50s.
His father died in 1973, but over time, the stylish Jon Levkoff transformed the operation from a small business to a burgeoning one in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, according to Brett Levkoff. At its height, the company employed about 110 people and worked with 15 factories in the New York City. During those high-flying days, Bill Levkoff sold to 2,500 retailers, predominantly bridal stores, and the company generated $50 million in annual sales at its peak.
In the ’90s, Jon Levkoff retired to spend more time with his grandchildren and turned over the reins of the company to other relatives. In 2000, Brett Levkoff and his brother-in-law Andrew Buchbinder joined the company to lead it. While the bridesmaid dress market had shifted considerably with increased offshore production and an influx of name-brand, off-price and online competitors, the duo built a small business that has been profitable for the past 20 years.
In addition to his son, his daughter Jodie Buchbinder and his wife Arlene (whose career including working as a bridal buyer), Jon Levkoff is survived by two of his brothers, William and James. His brother Robert predeceased him.
Brett Levkoff said that his father “was very low-key. He would just want everyone to go and to remember the good times.”