By Robert S. Benchley
As a goalkeeper, he played professional soccer on three continents. As an attorney, he fought for social justice in the courts. Now Craig Arthur von Schroeder ’01 is five years into a third career as founder of Commonwealth Proper of Philadelphia, selling both ready-to-wear and custom-made clothing to men who fit a certain profile—“the new American gentleman who wants a little bit of an edge.”
Von Schroeder’s rapidly growing company has garnered media attention from magazines like Esquire and Elle, and local CBS and Fox affiliates. In July, it was a winner in the Made-to-Measure category in the Best of Philadelphia Style competition. The showroom on Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square offers stylish garments with equally eye-catching prices—$195 to $650 for a shirt, $1,850 to $7,000 for a suit. But, Von Schroeder says, that buys you a lot.
“Our made-to-measure clothing begins with basic patterns that we customize for you,” he explains. “Then our tailors make the garment, which takes three to four weeks.”
The quality of the fit, he says, turns new customers into repeat customers. Clothes that fit well also last longer. “If you care for our garments properly, you can wear them for many years.”
With a long-term interest in clothing, he began studying the garment trade while earning a J.D. at Rutgers. “I’m the creative director; a sense of styling is what I bring to the company,” he says. The business savvy comes from his investors and advisers, including Lafayette soccer teammate Matthew Hoffman ’01, an analyst at Morgan Stanley in Hong Kong.
Female fans of the style have asked for a similar line for women. Although von Schroeder has not made a decision, he gets expert advice from his fiancée, Rhonda Clark Carlson, a Philadelphia interior designer.
Von Schroeder earned a government and law degree while playing as starting goalie on coach Tim Lenahan’s Patriot League championship team. As a senior, he received the Class of 1913 Trophy, presented annually to the College’s best male and female student-athletes. He takes his College connection seriously, and likes to give back.
“Lafayette prepared me for the rest of my life,” he says. “I’ve sponsored Lafayette interns in both my law practice and my clothing business, and I always take calls from Lafayette grads.”