FROM OUR FEBRUARY ISSUE: MENSWEAR LOVE STORIES
The entire MR team is proud to present our February 2023 print edition. Haven’t gotten your copy, yet? Feel free to page through a digital copy at Issuu, and we’ll continue to post the individual stories on MR-mag.com. If you haven’t been getting MR in print, be sure that you are on our mailing list for future issues by completing this form.
How much togetherness is too much? MR asks the industry’s favorite couples to weigh in.
By Karen Alberg, John Jones, and Michael Macko
Cecile Revah and Richard Abitbol, Bugatchi
We met and married before we worked together. We were introduced by a mutual friend. I was already involved in the fashion industry in a partnership with my brother Daniel, and Richard was partners with his brother in retail.
For us, this adventure has been all pros and no cons. We understand each other; we have each other’s back. We have more time together than most couples; we even business travel together. We communicate and can relate to each other’s problems. Most importantly, we made a pact to maintain a healthy work/life balance by keeping our personal life out of the workspace and vice versa.
And amazingly, after 42 years together, there’s nothing we would change about each other. Our similarities and our differences are what has kept us together and helped us thrive as partners, in both work and in love.
The real secret to making it work? Love, laughter, and respect. Know- ing how to pick our battles, knowing what’s important and what’s not. Remembering all the things we do right and not dwelling on what we might sometimes do wrong.
So who’s really the boss? A woman is always the boss anywhere, isn’t she?
Jacky and Jeff Clyman, Cockpit
I was working for the State Department as an interpreter, having just graduated from George Washington University. Jeff was finishing law school at GW. We met at a party given by one of Jeff’s law school friends and we hit it off. That was 51 years ago!
In 1975, Jeff gave up working for a large NY law firm to pursue his passion for keeping history alive by recreating the clothing worn by the brave men and women who fought to protect our freedom. Avirex was born and he asked me to join the company.
Because we know each other so well, it’s actually fun to work together under pressure, like when we’re pulling all-nighters to get a collection done in time for a trade show! The problem: we end up talking shop 24/7! But we rarely argue. I defer to Jeff on creative decisions and he to me on administrative ones.
So who’s really the boss? It depends. I work hard at customer service and to instill my mantra that no customer is too big or too small. They all need to be treated with respect. We count on repeat customers both for our online business and for wholesale. Jeff works at keeping our product quality as high as possible and as close to our DNA.
What would we change about each other? Jeff would probably prefer I not be involved with customer service 24/7. Changing Jeff would be tough: he’s his own person and one of a kind. But I truly believe we respect and complement each other.
Raffi and Arlette Shaya, Raffi
She was working at the travel agency where I’d book all my flights; she caught my eye and I said WOW. I called her and asked her to get together for coffee. She had all the qualities I was looking for in a life partner; she met every item on my checklist and I knew she was the one. After a few months of dating, I arranged our entire wedding – booked the hall, printed the invitations, and then asked her to marry me. It was the best ticket I ever bought.
Arlette is a smart woman, kind and generous, beautiful inside and out. I wouldn’t change a thing about her! Early on I asked why should she work somewhere else when we can work together?
At 80 years old, I can honestly say that even with our imperfections, we work perfectly together. My mother used to say that we complement each other, a yin and a yang. And we’re both so proud to have our three daughters running the business.
I can also say that we’ve had no major arguments. As challenges come and go, we each bring our thoughts and concerns to the table, and we find the solution together. As for who’s the boss, that would be me. Raffi is the boss at Raffi, but she’s the boss at home. May we continue to enjoy life, love what we do, and keep on dancing!
Jarrett Reicher and Rosemarie Grieco, Scott Barber
“Rosemarie and I met through our parents, who were friends. Rosemarie got interested in the industry by hearing about it from my father who had a store on St. Mark’s Place,” says Jarrett. “I initially helped guide her career — just as a friend — but along the way, we started dating, started a family, and went into business together.
“We benefit from working together. We don’t come home and have to explain what the day was like or what we’re working on. It’s full disclosure all the time. We focus on our girls at the end of the workday and support each other in household duties. We have an open line of communication to discuss our business and strategies any time we’d like. Some of our best ideas happen over coffee in the morning or when driving our girls to gymnastics.”
“Our biggest arguments happen before market travel. It gets a bit stressful leaving the house at the same time, but we have a great support system in place. We love seeing our customers, so it’s all worthwhile and we always have fun.”
Who’s the boss? “Rosemarie has taken a larger role in our back-end systems and the communications part of the business. I lead the sales strategy part. That’s why it works so well – we each have our own disciplines.”
Jarrett wouldn’t change anything about Rosemarie. “She is perfect the way she is!” Rosemarie, on the other hand, would like 20 minutes in the morning before work talk starts but she would never change Jarrett’s passion for what they do.
Sid and Ann Mashburn, Sid Mashburn
You can sum up a lot about the Mashburn’s relationship by the way they responded to our question about how they met: Sid responded to our questions, but only after Ann added her edits and approval. When asked who the boss in the relationship is really, Sid answers “Ann would say I act like I am, but she knows that I am not! We share decision-making and have a division of responsibilities where she holds sway, and vice versa.”
They met cute “on a sunny day, June 2, 1985, on the beach at Long Beach, NY, definitely not the Hamptons.” Sid was working under Gary Williams for Robert Lighton at British Khaki and Ann was an editorial assistant for Polly Mellen at Vogue. Twenty-two years later they ended up in business together when they decided to do their own thing, which Sid had been talking about since they met. Sid Mashburn started in 2007 as a menswear brand concept, and they added the Ann Mashburn brand in 2010. When asked about the biggest arguments Sid shared “that they all seem significant at the time, but in the end, we are married, and we share a very small double bed. We get tired and go to sleep and the next day it is better. That is pretty much how we solve things.” We can learn a lot from the Mashburns, and not just about style.
Marc Zimmerman and Vinny Gatto, Incubator1
Marc Zimmerman and Vincenzo Gatto, better known in the industry as the ubiquitous Marc & Vinny, are menswear stalwarts. You’ll find them at every men’s presentation, every Pitti, and every trade show. They never stop shopping, discovering, and working for their clients to find the best products and newest brands.
Their relationship started in 1980 at the original Canal Jeans on Canal Street, where you could purchase clothes by the pound. Marc was interviewed and hired by Vinny for a manager position. “Shortly after that, we went out on a date and 43 years later, we’re still together,” says Vinny.
They started their retail consulting business, Incubator1, in 1999. Vinny describes working together as “We have different approaches to fashion. I tend to be more fashion-forward, and Marc is more contemporary, but we both understand the principles of store layout. Ultimately, this leads to compromises that create a unique result for each client.” Adds Marc, “When we’re in sync with each other and achieve a compromise, the creativity flows.”
Vinny confides that “our biggest arguments are always about money. I don’t want to spend it, Marc does. I resolved it by making him do the books. He’s gotten very good at it and I’m a trained accountant!” Vinny also admits that “Marc is the boss in the relationship. At some point, it’s best to stop arguing, just say yes, and run your business.”
Katie Liu and Michael Kreiman, Black Dog 8
Katie Liu and Michael Kreiman met more than 29 years ago inside an elevator at a trade show. “It was instant fireworks!” says Liu, who’s been with Kreiman ever since that encounter.
In 2004, they quit their corporate jobs, pooled resources, and decided to become business partners in addition to life partners. They opened Black Dog 8 and built it into one of the most respected menswear showrooms in the country, with a brand roster that includes Crossley, Piacenza, and Nobis.
Looking back, both agree that the move from their corporate jobs suited their independent and adventurous personalities and that two heads are better than one when it comes to business decisions. They admit, however, that like most couples, they can sometimes get in each other’s way. But no matter what, they will never change their fierce protectiveness of each other. And two nicer people you will never meet!
Desyree Nicole and Gabriella Paulino, Todd Patrick
Luxury menswear brand Todd Patrick was founded by Desyree Nicole in 2016. Named for her brother, the collection was created to shift the narrative from what menswear currently was, to what it could be. Feeling most inspired being a woman designing for men, she focuses on telling stories through fabric, now with her partner Gabriella Paulino.
The two “met on a video shoot set, in person, which today, is a blessing,” says Desyree, “Myself and Gab were both trying to figure things out and as I started growing and pouring my time into the brand, I needed her more and more. When that shift happened, we began building the business together.”
Gabriella believes a benefit of working together is that “we’re in a relationship, but we’re also best friends and really know each other. We know when to push each other to be the best versions of ourselves. When Des says she needs the day to design and focus, I know she’s honest about it because we’re with each other 24/7.”
Des notes that they don’t spend time arguing. “It’s not worth it: we can find solutions in other ways. We’ll always have disagreements but at the end of the day, we’re building something together, betting on ourselves and on each other.” Which sounds like a sure thing to us.