Who is the real J. Peterman? An exclusive @burnSTYLEr investigation.

What’s a good sign that Seinfeld remains as the greatest TV show of all time? When you’re still discovering interesting tidbits 14 years after it ended.

Quick back story for those who don’t watch or aren’t as familiar with Seinfeld. In the later seasons, Elaine works for a man by the name of J. Peterman, who owns his own mail-order clothing company. Peterman, played by actor John O’Hurley, is an egotistical, eccentric boss with some of the funniest lines in the whole show. He is definitely one of my favorite non-recurring characters.

So, back to the story. Yesterday, my good friend @bairet tweeted the following:

Having not read the last part of his tweet carefully enough, I clicked on the link under the assumption that the J. Peterman site was a parody. To test my theory, I clicked on the “Hats” links in both the men and women’s sections, expecting to find an amusing “Urban Sombrero” for sale. To my disappointment, there was no Urban Sombrero to be found. That led the following manual RT with comment:

Bairet played along and responded with the following:

A parody J. Peterman website without ANY sort of reference to two of the more popular catalog items referenced in the show? Why even bother? This led me to wonder…was the site actually a parody? Was J. Peterman a legitimate clothing line? Did they steal the company name from Seinfeld, or did Seinfeld take a legitimate company name and use it in the show? These questions ate away at me for a good part of the afternoon. I  HAD TO know the answers. So I did what any curious, internet-savvy person would do: I sent an e-mail to the company.

Hello:

A friend of mine sent me a link to your website, and I had a question that I was hoping you could help me with. Being a huge Seinfeld fan, I actually thought this website was a parody after the clothing company Elaine is employed by in the popular sitcom. However, after discovering that neither the Urban Sombrero nor the Himalayan Walking Boot were listed on the site, I realized that this was indeed a legitimate clothing line and not a parody at all.

So, this begs the question. Is the name of your company purely coincidental? How long has your company been around? Did it precede Seinfeld? Did Seinfeld borrow your company’s name for use in their TV series? Or did you acquire the rights from Seinfeld to use J. Peterman as the name of your company? I realize these are very random questions completely out of the norm, but I am dying to know the answers. I appreciate your assistance.

Thank you!

Tyler Burns

Less than an hour later, I received the following response from J. Peterman customer service.

Dear Mr. Burns,

Thank you for contacting us. We are in fact, a real company. J. Peterman (John Peterman) actually started out by selling one item, the infamous Duster, after getting several compliments on the one he wore. So, from there he slowly started selling more and more, and actually finding the items he would be selling by traveling.

Me personally being a HUGE Seinfeld fan, I decided to look up a bit more on the subject a while back. It turns out, Larry David, the co-creator of Seinfeld took interest in the J. Peterman Company, and wore his clothing etc. So, They actually made the first episode with the actor J. Peterman based on the actual John Peterman and his catalog. So, to answer your question,The J. Peterman Company was around before the show. One interesting fact about the actor John O’ Hurley and the actual company is that he is now, an investor in the company. Or so I have been told. I actually found a small interview with John Peterman if you would like to watch that. It basically explains the correlation between the real J. Peterman and the show. Hope this reply answers your questions! Feel free to contact us with any further questions, Seinfeld related or not!

Sincerely,

Emily

[Note: before going any further, make sure you watch the video that Emily linked to. It’s mind-blowing!]

First off, LOOK AT THAT DUSTER JACKET! It’s beautiful, and TOTALLY J. Peterman. Man, I want one. Second, how incredible of a response was that? Not only is J. Peterman an actual clothing line, but John Peterman is an actual person! And John O’Hurley was so engrossed in the Peterman role that he is supposedly an investor in the company? How fantastic is that?

Maybe I’m a total Seinfeld nerd, but I cannot express how happy this little factoid has made me. I consider myself to be a huge Seinfeld fan, yet I had not heard of any of this before. I could be wrong, but I would say that a very small percentage of Seinfeld fans know about this, so I had to put it into a blog post to share with the world. I hope I’ve been able to brighten your day a little.

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    • Jeff
    • September 21st, 2012

    This is awesome.

    • Kyle
    • September 21st, 2012

    Huge seinfeld fan myself…excellent blog. I also thought j. Peterman was made up

    • Mike
    • March 28th, 2013

    My mom I have been huge Seinfeld nuts since the beginning.
    One year as a gift, she gave me a few seasons of the Seinfeld DVD box sets. In with the boxes was a real J. Peterman catalog. Amazing.

  1. COOL to know! I love the aesthetic of the J. Peterman website. Peterman was one of my favorite characters. I wouldn’t be to ashamed of being a nerd for such a great show.No matter how nerdy you are there is a bigger nerd that you. I bashfully admit I’m most like George.I’d rather be J.Peterman and glad I’m not Kramer. Everything descriptive in life has origins in either Seinfeld or Vice City, your finding this company’s existence proves 1/2 my theory! Carry on

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