Editor’s Letter: A Quarter Century!

by Karen Alberg Grossman


Oh to be young and unafraid and not know what you don’t know…

Karen Alberg GrossmanIn putting together this special issue of MR, I’m feeling both joy and sadness: joy for the many wonderful friendships made and reinforced over 25 years, sadness for how quickly the years have passed. I remember so clearly the excitement of launching a new magazine back in 1990! Stu and I were young and confident and perhaps a bit cocky, bolstered by the success of Accessories magazine (where we both worked for several years) and the trust imparted in us by the owners of Business Journals. Still, I was nervous. I didn’t know the menswear market and was terrified to compete with DNR, then a highly successful daily newspaper. Could we really bring something different, and meaningful, to the table?

For the launch issue, I decided we needed to do an industry roundtable: a discussion among department store executives about key issues the menswear industry was then confronting. I didn’t know any of these top execs and I had no idea what the issues were, but I pulled out the Salesman’s Guide, found the right names and called the menswear GMMs in all the top stores. They had no idea who I was; there was not yet an MR magazine to send them. I suggested they ask their counterparts in accessories to vouch for us and eventually, they agreed to show up.

So at the Algonquin Hotel during market week, we set up a table with chairs for six retailers, knowing that although nine had responded, there would be several no-shows. To our amazement, everyone showed (we had to keep adding chairs). I kicked off the discussion by asking about the increasingly promotional nature of department store business, how we could ever get back to regular-price selling with customers so acclimated to sales. Apparently, it was the wrong question and the group was highly defensive. “Our business is no more promotional this year than last,” said the first GMM, and the next few agreed. My heart was sinking, thinking the roundtable was a fiasco and we’d never have a premier issue. Finally, Gary Kellman from Lord & Taylor (thank you Gary, wherever you are) saved the day by admitting that his business was no more promotional than the previous year because it was already totally promotional, which is why department stores had lost credibility. The ice was broken, the rest of the group loosened up; we had a great discussion and a compelling premier issue!

For the quarter century that followed, MR has continued exploring challenges and opportunities in the menswear business, gaining most of our insights from you, our wise and intrepid warriors in the trenches. I can’t thank you enough for 25 years of sharing your experiences, of helping us figure it out. Thank you too for 25 years of friendship: it’s the real reason I love my job! And with Lizette at the helm of a terrific team, and Stu promising to stay nearby to guide us, I look forward to the next 25 years (which will take me to the same age my dad was when he retired from menswear).

See you in Vegas!

Karen signature

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