MR magazine and so many friends in the men’s clothing industry mourn the passing of Hickey Freeman executive Chris Linares, who died this week of an apparent heart attack. He was 69.
Chris enjoyed a long and successful career in luxury menswear with some of the industry’s most respected brands. He began in retailing in 1972, working at Stackpole, Moore Tryon and Allan Collins in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1977 he began what would become a long affiliation with the Hart Schaffner Marx brand; his longest affiliation, with Hickey Freeman, began in 1988.
At Hickey, Chris started out in sales and grew to senior positions in sales and operations. He was instrumental in the expansion of well-regarded brands including Hickey Freeman, Gieves & Hawkes, Burberry tailored clothing and Bobby Jones sportswear.
In his most recent role as Vice President Business Development for LMAG Group, his responsibilities included Hickey Freeman branded tailored clothing and dress furnishings, Bobby Jones tailored clothing, and Private Label sales development for luxury and premium brands wanting their tailored clothing produced in the venerable Rochester factory.
“Chris was synonymous with Hickey Freeman, having spent almost 50 years with us,” said Stephen Granovsky, Chief Executive Officer of LMAG. “He was a leader, not only in the company but also in the industry. Beloved and respected by so many, he loved this business and the people in it. The only love he had greater than our business was for his daughter: he would light up every time he spoke about Emmy. I can’t imagine Hickey Freeman without Chris. I loved working with him. I will miss him terribly. Our company will suffer for his loss.”
Tom Ott, former VP at Saks Fifth Avenue, also loved working with Chris. “Chris was one of the best clothing guys in the industry. Always honest and interested in your well-being first. He taught me so much about the clothing business and how to be a good friend in business.” Says designer Joseph Abboud, “I’m so sorry to hear of his passing. I really enjoyed working with Chris at HMX. Menswear is a close-knit industry and when we lose one of our own, we all mourn. My deepest sympathy to his wife and daughter. We will miss him.”
Bob Mitchell from Mitchells put it this way: “Chris Linares was one of the greats of our industry. He always cared about people and treated our business as if it were his own.” Says Van Weinberg from James Davis in Memphis: “Chris was the best of the best, and such a special friend! He always went the extra mile to be more than fair.” And from Russ Patrick at Neiman Marcus, “A strong reminder in these trying times that good people make a difference in the world.”
As editor of MR magazine, I’ve known Chris for the past 30 years and always enjoyed working with him, at trade shows, at industry events, and at the historic Rochester factory that crafted suits for numerous past presidents. He had such a way with people, an ability to connect, that he became good friends with virtually everyone. Incredibly knowledgeable about the business, he was among the first people I’d call to get information on tailored clothing. I will miss him a lot.”
Chris is survived by his wife Edie and beloved daughter Emmy, the center of his world. Information on a memorial service will be posted when confirmed.