Fashionable YOU: A Gentleman of Southern Fashion – Crittenden Rawlings

Jun 20, 2022 at 02:38 pm by RMGadmin

By Johnny Birdsong

I live every day believing that nothing happens in my life by accident. I met Mr. Crittenden Rawlings a few years ago, totally by chance, while visiting and writing an article on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. One day, an article popped up on my phone about him, entitled “Dressing the Coach,” referring to John Calipari, world renowned basketball coach at the University of Kentucky. I called Critt up and said I was going to be in the area and would love to meet him while there. The moment I walked into this extraordinary gentlemen’s clothing store in small Midway, Kentucky, I felt something special. Being a man who loves his clothes, I instantly knew I was leaving there with something, and of course, I did. But, I left with much more than a new sport coat – I left in awe of the gentleman I had the opportunity to share some time with. A gentleman that I came to know, admire and I am proud to have called my friend.
I got a call last week letting me know that Critt had passed away. That was a tough one to hear. I had only just started my friendship with him, such a short time ago and now he is gone. But, his impact  on both myself and the gentleman’s clothing industry, will never be gone. I thought it only fitting that we include this marvelous man and his story in this, our annual gentlemen’s issue. 
Crittenden “Critt” Rawlings was a sixty-year veteran of the men’s tailored clothing business, working with and serving as the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of well-known companies like Polo/Ralph Lauren, Norman Hilton, Cricketeer and Oxxford Clothes. Critt led the sales and creative teams at these prominent companies in the fashion and menswear industries in New York and throughout the United States. His passion for quality, eye for timeless style, and “encyclopedic knowledge of fine fabrics,” was truly unmatched and a “trademark” of his business. At the age of eighty-two, Critt left us with quite the story to tell. 
Crittenden Clothing was founded in 2001 after Critt attempted to retire to his horse farm in Kentucky, but found it hard to stay away from the world of fabric and design. Critt realized he did not want to rest until he found success in a personalized line of well-designed, well-made, well-priced tailored clothing. With his true passion for fabrics, design and the men’s clothing business, the Crittenden Rawlings clothing line originated. This line, and Critt;s philosophy on clothing described here: “Quality clothing that lasts for seasons is a modern, sustainable way to dress; American design, European craftsmanship, and excellence in quality in every detail; Bespoke features at a great price for work, for leisure, for sport, for celebrations. Crittenden Rawlings for a modern gentleman’s life.”


When Critt founded Crittenden Clothing, he brought insider knowledge, great taste and hallmarks of his storied career to a small, artisanal company, making a product designed thoughtfully, with respect and love for the great traditions of men’s tailored clothing. He preserved the traditions and history of the industry–the charming woolen mills of the United Kingdom, the silks and cotton of Italy and the many family-run businesses that still existed in the fashion industry, yet were beginning to struggle in the age of “fast fashion.” Critt worked with friends who were traditional tailors and true artisans worldwide and began to make his garments with the utmost care and attention to detail while supporting small businesses the world over. 
In addition to bringing “slow fashion” to the market and re-introducing the old-fashioned value of “slow clothing,” Critt saw that his brand could provide what other luxury brands lacked: Excellent quality for a great value. As a result, he filled a hole in the marketplace for the American man by providing a luxury product at a price point that made and continues to make dressing well accessible and available to more men.
The Crittenden Rawlings Line offers classic but creative tailored clothing that is made with attention to every detail: Piped seams, working buttonholes, authentic French facing, unique and luxurious fabrics and more. What sets Crittenden Rawlings suits, sports coats and trousers apart is the use of the same luxury fabrics, details and features commonly found with suits and sports coats retailing for thousands of dollars. The Crittenden Rawlings line brings beautiful garments to the market at a more attractive price through the legacy of Critt’s experience, impeccable taste and decades of relationships with European mills, tailoring professionals and manufacturers.


One of Critt’s first designs for the Crittenden Rawlings line was the unstructured “soft” sport coat– A soft-shouldered, lightly constructed coat that was a modern revolution for menswear and was immediately copied industry-wide and became the standard for a modern jacket.
Critt’s daughter, Allyson Rawlings tells us: “My dad delivered many speeches and talks to the fashion world over the years and liked to start with his story of growing up on a farm in Lebanon, Kentucky, with an outhouse. Recently, during his illness, my family began gathering information for an obituary and my dad jokingly said he’d title it ‘From the Outhouse to the White House’.” Critt felt this was fitting since he clothed Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush as well as many celebrities and personalities – very different from his quaint upbringing!
Critt’s life was what most would call the ultimate twentieth-century American success story. A Kentucky farm boy to CEO. A small-town kid to an exceptional corporate and entrepreneurial success. A legend and leader in his industry. I feel privileged to have known Crittenden, albeit for a short time and its so humbling to be able to honor him in this issue as the epitome of a gentleman of southern fashion.