Local Business Thrives With Needle and Thread

Famous singers and Hollywood film stars in need of a quick-fix to a special outfit often turn to Julius E. Lofton Jr. of Washington, D.C.

Lofton, 51, better known as Eddie Lofton, is the man behind the family-owned business, J.C. Lofton Tailors, at 1003 U Street NW.  The shop has been open for business since 2000.

“I started tailoring at 18 because I wanted to see people look their best,” he said.

Lofton was mentored and trained by his grandfather, who founded Lofton Custom Tailoring in 1939.  He was the first African-American to own a tailoring shop and tailoring school in D.C.

Alice Tompkins, an employee of J.C. Lofton Tailors, has been tailoring for the past 30 years.

“I was tall, so I had to learn how to tailor my own clothes and as time went on, I grew to love the tailoring business. I was also trained by Lofton’s grandfather almost 30 something years ago,” she said.

After 33 years in the tailoring business, Lofton has seen just about everything.

“One of the funniest jobs we ever had was when a guy came into the shop with a bag,” he said.  “He needed for us to complete an alteration within 24 hours.  I asked him to step inside the dressing room and try the outfit on. When he came out, he had a ballerina dress on, and we were a bit surprised. However, we had his dress ready for pick-up the next day.”

Lofton loves to re-style and upgrade clothing for customers.

“Over the past few years, a lot more customers have asked to re-style their clothes due to the recession,” he said.

Yvette Longonje, a 2008 chemical engineering alumna, is back at home in Houston. When she attended Howard University, she would always utilize Lofton’s tailoring service.

“I really loved his attention to detail and willingness to please,” she said.  “He was able to transform my long winter jacket into a chic short belted one. It was fabulous and definitely saved me money when I lived in D.C.,” she said.

Some of Lofton’s other clientele include athletes, educators , promoters, politicians, Howard students and entertainers, such as Patti Labelle, Melba Moore and The O’Jays.

He also provided custom tailoring and alterations for the casts of the films G.I. Jane and Murder at 1600.

“One of my toughest jobs that we completed was when Murder 1600 hired me to tailor not just one jacket but six identical white jackets to be delivered the next day.”

Lofton’s achievements include The Washington Guide Magazine Tailor of the Year for 1998 and 2000, The 2000 Smithsonian Folklife Festival Certificate of Appreciation Award and being included in the  Washington Afro-American Newspaper List of 159 Top Best Dressed Men in the D.C. Area from 1994-1995. These awards are visible to visitors walking up the stairs to the second floor of the blue building that houses Lofton’s tailoring business.

“I have been a customer for the past five years,” D.C. resident Sarah Browne says.  “I love his work, and I love supporting local businesses.”

While Lofton has tailored clothing for countless people, there’s one person to whom he’s never provided his tailoring services and has aspirations of tailoring one day.

 “I would love to tailor President Barack Obama one day,” he said.