Princeton Merchants Association

Our mission is to create a vibrant and sustainable local economy in Princeton by attracting, nurturing, and maintaining a mix of businesses that serve the economic, social and material needs of our community and make Princeton a great place to live and work.

Nick Hilton Princeton

In 1888, in northern New Jersey, Joseph Hilton and his three brothers began tailoring clothes for men. In those days the customer base for a fledgling firm like theirs were the butlers and chauffeurs of the rich and famous, but within a few years their reputation was established and business grew.

Joseph Hilton, the youngest of the four, had what was at the time a revolutionary idea. Instead of travelling around mostly on foot to show his wares to potential customers, Joe thought, why not  just open a store where they might come and see the clothes and try them on, rather than picking the styles from books and swatches.  It sounds almost silly in the age of big-box stores, but the idea of the gentlemans specialty shop was born in the early days of the twentieth century. The Joseph Hilton and Sons stores soon numbered 10, all located in Newark, New Jersey and in the five boroughs of New York City, and eventually a factory was built in Linden, New Jersey to manufacture the suits, sport jackets, trousers and coats that the stores sold.
Norman Hilton began his career on the strength of another novel idea. In the 1940s the Ivy League style of clothing was mostly confined to the shops and custom tailors that were located in Ivy League towns. J. Press of New Haven, Langrocks in Princeton, and such stores catered to the tastes and quality sensibilities of the new natural shoulder customer exclusively. Norman Hilton, fresh from Princeton and Harvard Business School by way of the U.S. Navy, decided to use the Joseph Hilton manufacturing facility to produce traditional, Ivy League-style clothing for independent stores around the country. In so doing, Hilton shared in the enormous growth and acceptance that such clothing was achieving everywhere in the country. By the mid-1960s there was not a fine mens specialty store in the country which was not featuring Norman Hilton Clothing.
 Over the course of the next couple of decades, Norman Hilton was largely responsible for the birth and growth of Polo by Ralph Lauren, the initiation of Halston in the mens wear field, and the emergence of Burberry as a force in America.

Today the significance of the Hilton name is recognized by cognoscenti of mens apparel around the world. Nick and Jennifer Hilton, (you will find their individual profiles under separate headings,) proprietors of the Nick Hilton store in Princeton, have worked in every area of the apparel industry for many years. The store itself represents the culmination of more than a centurys history and experience.. Nick Hilton stores are unique in having behind them this monumental history and legacy of knowledge, practice and taste.

221 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, NJ 08542   609-921-8160


PO Box 584   Princeton, NJ  08542

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