Karen Alberg Grossman
by Karen Alberg Grossman

Portrait of Karen for MR Magazine

Although I often forget, I know I’m very fortunate to have spent the past 37 years at a career that’s allowed me to learn from some of the most inspirational people in the universe. In this year’s Awards Issue of MR, we profile a few of our industry’s finest: Peerless president Ronny Wurtzburger, Harry Rosen’s top merchant Jeff Farbstein, Italian style setter Giorgio Canali, AG’s fearless leader Sam Ku and the highly creative team from MartinPatrick3. These industry innovators have proven that nice guys can finish first and that motivational leadership requires heart and humility as much as vision, strength and discipline. I’m also convinced (well, kind-of convinced) that working hard need not preclude having fun and that genuine relationships based on mutual respect are every bit as important as great collections.


● Who knew about the many disadvantaged young people Ronny Wurtzburger has taken under his wing over the years, supporting them both financially and emotionally by finding them apartments or jobs, helping them out until they get back on their feet. (Typical Ronny: he never even mentioned these acts of kindness to me in our interviews.)
● Can we say enough about Jeff Farbstein’s amazing ability to raise the bar for his vendors, giving them business advice, connecting them to great people and spending time to make their companies stronger while building Harry Rosen into the best men’s specialty store in the world?
● And then there’s Giorgio Canali’s unique talent of connecting with people while elevating the Canali brand to top status in North America. As retail legend Mario Bisio puts it, “If you’re a Canali customer, you know Giorgio. It’s rare to have an owner of a global brand be so generous with his time.”
●We’re so impressed with Sam Ku’s consistent emphasis on quality control and sustainability at AG, well above and beyond industry standards, just one of the reasons AG is without doubt the Denim Brand of the Decade.
● And how we admire the empowering management style of Greg Walsh and Dana Swindler at MartinPatrick3. This, and their creative, eclectic approach to merchandising, has made their Minneapolis store a role model for every merchant’s current goal: creating an exceptional in-store experience.

We hope you’ll be as inspired reading about these industry icons as we were writing about them. Also in this issue: guest editorials from industry experts who provide insight on the profound transformation our industry is experiencing, a look into Liz Rodbell’s new downtown office (and her life), some fabulous NYC bar and restaurant recommendations for market week, a few exciting new menswear brands to add to your roster, our special MRket/Project preview, and much more.

Check out, too, our fashion tribute to JFK Jr., a style icon and potential leader, whose tragic and untimely passing 18 years ago cut short what might have been, reminding us once again that life is precarious: let’s make it meaningful, let’s do it now!