Inside the History of Giblees
Growing up, high-end menswear was always a sort of oddity to me. Perhaps it was the layers upon layers of clothing: jackets, shirts, vests, ties, cuff links — it was all very overwhelming for someone who still struggles to match a T-shirt and jeans. Still, I couldn’t deny the sharpness of a well-fitted suit.
It wasn’t until a month before my senior prom that I found myself in a menswear store for the first time. My dad brought me to Giblees Menswear in Danvers. I went in with one goal: find something and get out as quickly as possible. After all, I still needed time to browse the Guitar Center down the street for a few hours.
To the surprise of both me and my dad, we spent a good chunk of time browsing through jackets, shirts and accessories. That wasn’t because we had a hard time finding what we were looking for; rather, I was simply taken aback by my newfound appreciation for their styles.
The first Giblees store was opened by Joseph Gibeley shortly after World War II. It was a small shop in Salem, Mass., that catered to the needs of workers from nearby factories, selling then-popular felt hats. Little did Joseph know that his modest hat shop would be transformed into a full-scale community haberdashery over the course of two generations.
Joseph’s son, Robert, joined the business in 1951. Perhaps more in tune with changing trends, Robert predicted that hats weren’t the future of men’s fashion. Suits, however, were a different story. As a result, the store finally included fashionable high-end dresswear in its stock.
“At that time, people wore suits to work every day. It didn’t matter what profession you were in,” says Alan Gibeley, the current president of Giblees. “Back in the ’50s and ’60s, we were probably 80% dress wear and 20% casual wear.”
As the popularity of hats faded, Giblees expanded its clothing lines. In the early ’70s, the family opened a store in Danvers’ new Liberty Tree Mall. With malls looking like the future of American consumerism, the family closed its Salem shop and Giblees remained a tenant at the mall for the next few decades.
It wasn’t until the mid ’90s that Giblees would again open a stand-alone store.
At the time, Danvers’ downtown area was in the midst of a massive transition, and the Gibeleys wanted in on the new Route 114 commercial strip. In 1997, the family debuted their current Danvers location, and in 2008 the Gibeleys purchased the building, expanding their retail space to 11,000 square feet.
Giblees has become a staple of the Danvers community and even a local hub for special events like scotch tastings, Tommy Bahama nights, and even Ladies Day events, which feature wine tastings, special guests and discounts on the store’s growing catalog of in-vogue womenswear. The store has welcomed special guests, including former Patriots players Rob Gronkowski and Adam Vinatieri, as well as Celtics player Tacko Fall.
Of course, Giblees wasn’t been able to welcome guests and customers into the store during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even so, the family business has persevered, moving more of their merchandise to their website for online shoppers. Additionally, Giblees has introduced the “Stylepak.” With it, Giblees will pack up clothing according to your needs, ship it to you, and you can return anything you don’t like. “We charge you only for what you keep,” Alan says.
For now, Giblees will do what it can at both its Danvers location and its Zareh store in Boston to continue serving the public through thick and thin, just as it has since the 1940s.