Gastav A. Zink migrated to Australia in the late 1880s, where he established himself in Sydney. In 1895 Gastav opened G.A. Zink & Sons Tailors at 112 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst. The store remained in this location until the widening of Oxford Street in 1905.
On July 6th 1911, the Sydney City Council (SCC) sold by public auction fifty year leases on nine “splendid business sites” on Oxford Street, East Sydney – an area which, with a post office and tramline along Oxford Street, proved increasingly attractive for business premises.
The lease on 56 Oxford Street was bought by Gastav A. Zink, who immediately appointed architect John Dunstan to design their premises. The SCC approved plans in October 1911 for a four storey building, the same building in which Zink & Sons are still based to this day.
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s Zink & Sons was managed by Frank Zink, Gastav’s son, and grew to be the busiest tailors’ shop in Sydney, making suits, coats and trousers for every person from the local butcher to high court judges.
In 1927 the shop had proven inadequate for the flourishing and expanding business and the building at 56 Oxford Street underwent major changes, adding two mezzanine floors – one for storage and fitting rooms and one to house the cutting room. Built-in cabinetry of the finest quality completed the new fit-out.
Considering the quality of the joinery, the attention to detail and the extent of the fit-out, it may be assumed that skilled tradespeople were at work and that Zink & Sons were prepared and able to incur considerable expense in the renovation.
In 1938 a fashionable art deco shop front was built by Sidgreaves Shopfitters and was featured in many magazines. Such a shop front fitted in a popular style was considered a flamboyant extravagance during the difficult years of the Great Depression but Zink & Sons proved to be a thriving business at the time, regardless of the adverse circumstances.
In the 1940s, Zink & Sons’ clientele was huge. On Saturday mornings there would be a queue of thirty people outside its doors, there were about a dozen employees working on the two floors and two mezzanines of the shop with “ready to wear” sales on the ground floor and Tailoring on the first floor. The top floor two bedroom flat was occupied by Thomas Zink, Gastav’s grandson.
Thomas Zink took over Zink & Sons in the early 1950s and was to be the last member of the Zink family to manage the company. In the late 1950s Bill Jones, owner of Styltone clothing – a factory which made suits for leading suit companies in Sydney – went into partnership with Thomas Zink, eventually taking full control of the business in the late 1950s.
The 1960s introduced Bill’s son, Robert, to the shop. Robert learnt the art of cutting under the watchful eye of Bill, who was Zink & Sons shop front cutter. After Bill’s retirement in 1979, Robert became shop front cutter and head of the fifth generation of tailors at Zink & Sons on Oxford Street.
In the 1970s and 1980s the shop had become oversized due to the lack of passing trade and was considered old fashioned. With the first floor no longer serving as a retail space, the ground floor and the first mezzanine were adapted to accommodate all functions, including display and storage. The workroom remained on the first floor, as it still is today.
In 1989 a permanent conservation order, under section 44 of the Heritage Act 1977, was placed on the building of Zink & Sons, due to its heritage and artistic value.
Early 2004 saw Robert’s youngest son, Daniel, move into the business, with Robert passing on to Daniel the family tradition and art of cutting early at a young age. He was quick in learning the craft and moved onto coat making in early 2006.
With the beautiful trade of bespoke tailoring slowly dying out, Daniel is determined to keep this tradition alive in Sydney for many more years to come.