Explore Philadelphia

A Local Style Expert Talks About the Changing Fashion in Philadelphia

David Schwartz of Sophy Curson has been in the fashion business for decades. Here, he chats with us about how it's changed, what item every woman needs in her closet and how to acheive long-term success.

Along with his mother Susan, David Schwartz runs the day-to-day at Sophy Curson, a shop originally opened by his great aunt Sophy that has been a Philadelphia staple since 1929. We chat with David to find out how they do it—and how they’ve done it for so long. 

Sophy Curson boutique owners, Philadelphia
David Schwartz (right) with his mother, Susan. (Courtesy Sophy Curson)

Sophy Curson has been a fashion staple for decades. How have you seen the retail scene in Philly change in recent years?

The people in the city have changed the shopping scene here in Philly.The resurgence of people moving back to the city has brought so many new faces to the neighborhood. We find that in order to stand out you have to offer something different from the norm.  We keep hearing how much fun shopping at a boutique that has a mix of daytime and evening is. People want to find clothes they have not seen elsewhere.

How has Sophy Curson’s approach to fashion and dressing Philadelphian's changed since opening?

When we started our store, we specialized in clothes for ladies with a smaller stature. My great aunt Sophy actually invented the term “junior size” in 1929. Our trademarked slogan for many years was “junior is a size not an age.” When department stores started to use the term junior for teenagers, we stopped with the slogan. Today, we serve all heights and sizes 2-18.

3. What is your favorite part about running the day-to-day at Sophy Curson?

My favorite part is the interaction with the clients. It is always so much fun to see the expression on a clients face when the try something out of their comfort zone and they realize “Oh yes, I can wear this and I always thought I couldn’t.”

Sophy Curson is known for its well-curated selection of brands. How does the shop choose which designers to sell?

My aunt Sophy always said you have to love it to sell it. My mother and I are a team that goes to Europe twice a year to pick out clothes for women to wear. In a family business, you have to choose your battles, so sometimes I get my way but usually my mother gets hers. It is still working, so no need to change now.

Sophy Curson boutique, Philadelphia
The window display at Sophy Curson is always a sight to be seen. (Courtesy Sophy Curson)

What are the items you think all women should have in their closet?

For fall we love a tweed jacket. We are carrying a few from Edward Achour from France, both a short jacket with a collar and a longer jacket without a collar.  The tailored pant is hot again. We have Piazza Sempione’s Audrey pant that is a must for everyone. It is a side zip pant in wool or cotton with just the right amount of stretch. People usually end up getting the pant in a few colors because they like [them] so much.

What is one item women should splurge on when it comes to fashion?

Splurge on a colorful dress. We have some from Tom and Linda Platt with or without a sleeve. With a change of accessories, these dresses can double for day or evening. 

Why do you think Sophy Curson has found such long-term success in Philly?

We love clothes and I think it shows. When we are at fashion shows, things can catch my eye and I have to get it for our shop. Even if I don’t have a specific client in mind, I need to reward the designer’s creativity with an order. I think if I love it, I will find a woman that will love it as well. It is that excitement about fashion that keeps us going for 87 years.