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Ernest Alexander

As a student at the prestigious, all-boys Belmont Hill School near Boston, Ernest Alexander Sabine bumped headlong into a strict dress code: slacks, collared shirt, tie, jacket, no exceptions. “I got a Saturday detention for not having my tie all the way up,” Sabine recalls with a laugh. “I had a hard-ass Latin teacher who busted me.”

Despite the uncompromising rules, Ernest credits the school for influencing him stylistically. But his introduction to the world of clothes came via his grandmother and great-grandmother, seamstresses who escaped Latvia near the end of World War II. “The Nazis were closing in on them, and they came here,” he says. “I grew up in a household with old sewing machines and patterns. They’d copy the dresses they made during the day and bring them home to my mom. I just remember being like six years

old and going through their old paystubs and thinking, ‘Oh my god—look how hard they worked.’”

No surprise here: Ernest has brought that same intensity his own classic, American-made menswear line, Ernest Alexander. After two and a half years of steadfast focus on the guy’s side of things, he’s gradually incorporating womenswear into the mix—a nod to those hustling matriarchs that got him started. —seth putnam