MR magazine is saddened to report the sudden passing of Freddie Stollmack, co-founder and former president of Weatherproof Garment Co. and one of our industry’s most creative marketing minds. He was 76.
After 49 years in the business, Stollmack retired in 2012, having first joined Weatherproof in 1991. Throughout his career, he was famous for his attention-getting marketing maneuvers (although he always gave credit to Eliot Peyser and family since “although fiscally conservative, they know how to make quick decisions when appropriate.”)
Among Stollmack’s bold moves: garnering a spot on Fox News to discuss why his company purchased insurance against warm winters, and creating a Times Square billboard of president Barack Obama wearing a Weatherproof jacket at the Great Wall of China. (The billboard and print ads were ultimately recalled by The White House but not before generating 1.7 billion impressions.). He also introduced microfiber to the men’s market, secured a spot with talk show host Jay Leno at a White House Correspondence Dinner, and managed to enlist Today show weatherman Al Roker to be the Weatherproof spokesperson, a feat that first put the company on the map. For these and similar outrageous accomplishments, Stollmack was featured in an MR magazine special issue entitled The Chutzpah Factor: Who’s Got it and Why.
In another interview with MR magazine, Stollmack offered valuable advice to young people coming into the industry: “Network like crazy and follow your passion. I went to NYU for a business degree because my parents wanted an accountant, when I should have trained to be an actor or an artist,” Indeed, Stollmack was a kind and caring person with a little-known spiritual side. He was into yoga and Buddhism; and on retirement, he was hoping to use his PR and marketing skills to help young people in recovery.
Weatherproof has had a long history with Macy’s, and executives from the national retailer are mourning his passing. “Freddie was a great partner to Macy’s Inc.,” says CEO and chairman Terry Lundgren. “He always pushed the envelope of both product and marketing. He was a special guy and will always be missed.”
Notes Jeff Gennette, Macy’s president (who will succeed Lundgren as CEO next year): “Freddie was a marketing guru. He knew how to generate free press before social media; his Obama/Weatherproof campaign was genius. He was also one of the first people to understand that in-store experience and retail theater are essential to drive brand relevance. And he always found a way to fill your assortment void, always operating with great integrity. Freddie was a blast to be with, and he will be missed.” Adds Glen Schanen, “He taught us all how to think more creatively, both inside and outside the box. I will miss his creativity and sense of humor.”
Says Karen Alberg, editor in chief of MR magazine: “Never one to hold back, Freddie was an editor’s dream to interview: candid, insightful, brimming with new ideas. The parties that he planned for Weatherproof over the years were the best in the market. He knew how to make business fun!”
Eliot Peyser, CEO of Weatherproof, sums it up best: “It’s difficult to describe how much Freddie meant to me and my family. Freddie was one of a kind. A merchandising and marketing genius, he understood how to cut through the clutter and market a brand. But more importantly he was a mentor and special friend with an incredible sense of humor and a good heart. He was a true mensch and will surely be missed.”
Stollmack is survived by his son Bruce, daughter-in-law Laura and three grandchildren: Natasha, Rachel and Jackson. A memorial service will be held on Friday, June 24th at 2:00 pm at Trinity Cemetery and Mausoleum, 770 Riverside Drive, followed by a gathering at Carmines Upper West Side (2450 Broadway). Instead of flowers, consider a donation in Freddie’s memory to JCC Manhattan by clicking here.