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The Cashmere Whisperer

Is your life unraveling? Wait, not your life—your sweater. Snags—and moths—happen. For those attached to an old favorite, Ron Moore is here to help.

“Hi, Ron, this is Dave. I’m calling about my houndstooth.”

“Oh, Dave, I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can do anything here.”

“Ron, is there something you haven’t tried?”

“OK, Dave, I’ll take another look. Maybe I can try a different technique.”

Ron Moore isn’t a surgeon, but he is surgical in his approach, and he’s got the best bedside manner on billionaires’ row. Moore is the proprietor of the French American Reweaving Company; the houndstooth’s diagnosis—the patient is circling the drain, but there may be a chance—is why his customers gushingly refer to him as a miracle worker.

In what amounts to a strange bedfellows’ nexus of the sustainability and the thriftiness of the uber elite, Moore will give your suits and sweaters bespoke R&R—that’s reweave and repair. (And it’s not only articles of apparel that make their way into his hands. Captains of industry have presented Moore with cherished totems of their childhoods—the bears and the blankies.)

Reweaving is performed by hand, using a magnifying glass.

Stepping inside 119 West 57th Street, one of New York’s Emery Roth Beaux-Arts Art Deco-inspired buildings, you might think you’re visiting a Roman bathhouse. However, the FARC’s HQ (not to be confused with the FARC, the Marxist-Leninist Columbian revolutionary military army) is decidedly unassuming.

In 1932, founder Nathan Singer opened the shop, throwing in the fanciful “French American” moniker. News of the old-world workmanship spread by word of mouth—mais bien sur. Moore was a teenager from the Bronx when he took on a part-time, after-school job, sweeping floors and tissuing the sleeves of Happy Rockefeller’s chiffon gowns.

Ron Moore of the French American Reweaving Company wearing a red shirt standing behind his desk
Ron Moore has been providing our beloved suits and sweaters with bespoke R&R—that’s reweave and repair—since the 1960s. Customers swoon over his powers of resuscitation. Photo by Mark Ellwood
Happy Rockefeller wearing a chiffon gown, with her husband, Nelson, attending a party in Washington D.C. in the 1970s
Moore started working at the French American Reweaving Company part time as a teenager sweeping floors and tissuing the sleeves of Happy Rockefeller’s chiffon gowns. Photo by Guy DeLort/WWD/Penske Media via Getty Images

Reweaving is performed by hand, using a magnifying glass. (Repairing one hole can cost anywhere from $30–$100.) Moore doesn’t do the painstakingly precise work himself, describing himself as “the ringmaster” and explaining that: “You have to be both good and fast. I’ve had people try to learn and just give up. I’m down to just two reweavers.”

How should we civilians deal with moths, the bane of every cashmere-lover’s existence? “You’ve got to shake things up,” Moore explains. The malevolent chewers “thrive in static environments.” Also recommended: placing garments in a dryer at medium heat for around ten minutes every so often, and applying cedar spray to cedar wood blocks several times a year.

“You’re not worried that you’ll lose business by sharing your trade secret?” I asked. Moore shook his head: “Moths always find a way.”

Nancy and Henry Kissinger in black tie at an awards dinner at Plaza Hotel in 1980
News of FARC‘s old-world workmanship spread by word of mouth. Nancy Kissinger personally dropped off Henry’s Brooks Brothers suits. Photo by Betty Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Tom Wolfe wearing a cream suit with a dog sitting at his heels
Satisfied clients include Tom Wolfe, who gave Moore a copy of one of his books. Photo by Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

Satisfied customers can be a little dramatic. On Yelp, Laura H. from Jackson Heights writes of “weeping” at the thought of the loss of her favorite cardigan and then “weeping again” at seeing it revived. Carolyn from NY swoons over the resuscitation of a decade-old Irish sweater from its “deathbed,” making it the Lazarus of knitwear. Liam Neeson didn’t leave a Yelp review, but once penned a personal thank you to Moore for reviving his “lucky” threadbare velvet smoking jacket. Moore doesn’t “do velvet,” but Neeson pleaded. “It would be like losing a limb to give up the jacket,” the actor said.

I relate to Neeson’s sentiment—almost as much as I fantasize about him in that smoking jacket. My committed relationship with a Barney’s label black cashmere shell tank outlasted my marriage. The form-flattering top was purchased for me by a television network. With its posh tight weave, it’s been impervious to pilling and has never slumped into shapelessness during two and a half decades of dedicated service of my upper torso.

 

Liam Neeson leaning against a riverside railing wearing a velvet smoking jacket
Liam Neeson once penned a personal thank you to Moore for reviving his “lucky” threadbare velvet smoking jacket. Photo by Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images
Jimmy Fallon wearing a tuxedo posing on the red carpet at the Met Ball
NBC sends over Jimmy Fallon’s jackets. Once garments have been returned to their former glory, the only evidence of repair is a single delicate thread, loosely woven into the fabric. Photo by Darian DiCianno/BFA.com

When a moth chomped into the rounded neckline I, like Neeson, couldn’t bear the thought of retiring it, and took a razor to the seams. The Ann Demeulemeester-esque angularity added a surprisingly winning punk aesthetic. Still, when yet another hole appeared, I pleaded my case to Ron. Perhaps with a certain reluctance mingled with enthusiasm for the challenge—a textile Dr. House—he took my case.

When you retrieve your beloved knitwear from the FARC, you’ll notice that the reweaving elves have left a single delicate thread, loosely woven into the fabric, the only evidence of the repair. Your garments are returned to their former glory. It’s a bit of old-timey magic, and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that just a tiny bit of the reweavers’ magic rubs off on us.

Hero photo by ShotPrime via Getty Images

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