by Karen Alberg Grossman

The entire MR team proudly presents our July 2024 MR Awards issue. If you haven’t received a hard copy, please page through a digital version at  Issuu, and we’ll continue to post individual stories here on 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.

Each year, as we prepare for our MR Awards Dinner (this, our 17th edition, to be held on July 15th at Gotham Hall, NYC), we take time to ponder how the honorees got to where they are. What made them successful? What factors and character traits have accounted for such widespread respect within the fashion industry and beyond? Although our award winners seem to be unique individuals from very diverse backgrounds (Haiti to Harlem to Havana), one finds many common denominators not attributable to coincidence. Big dreams, hard work, the courage to take risks and make mistakes, the wisdom to learn from those mistakes, a penchant for giving back and making a difference, this is the stuff of greatness.

Erin Hawker, founder of her own PR agency and architect of New York Men’s Day, always wanted to write for WWD, so she moved to NYC and camped out in the lobby of Fairchild’s executive offices until she got an interview and ultimately a job!

From grade school on, Alan Gibeley loved working with his dad in the family
clothing business. Two years after losing his dad, Alan has greatly elevated the product mix, adding Italian and European labels. He’s also notably expanded the store and nurtured a team of young sellers who are as passionate about the business as he is, taking them on market trips and teaching them the nuances of the menswear business.

Al Leinen and Todd Epperley also exemplify a team approach to business: Although not owners of this 108-year-old, much-admired department store (owned by Hallmark), their fashion/business savvy has greatly impressed suppliers, gaining them access to top luxury brands. They also take promising young sellers into the NYC market, igniting their passion and expanding their knowledge, which shows up on the bottom line.

Ouigi Theodore was born in Haiti and moved with his family to Brooklyn in the 1980s. He studied religion in college; his first store was called One Race. Inspired by the likes of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, Ralph Lauren, Thom Browne, and Rick Owens, Ouigi is the only merchant we know with a 100-year plan for his business, The Brooklyn Circus.

What can we say about this year’s Lifetime Achievement award winner George Feldenkreis? Now chairman of Perry Ellis International, a company he founded and built from the ground up, George grew up in Cuba with modest means. He worked and studied hard through high school and law school but ultimately fled Castro’s prohibitive regime and started a business in Florida, importing first auto parts, then apparel. His high standards and somewhat stern demeanor bely a huge heart and a strong belief that we’re here on earth to give back.

Another great humanitarian with a foundation that supports social and wellness causes, from AIDS research to mental health awareness, Kenneth Cole is considered by many a marketing genius. In addition to creating fabulous footwear and apparel for men, women, and kids, his catchy advertising features inspirational phrases intended to make us think, make us act, and make a better world.

Hall of Fame winner David Rubenstein is beyond proud of his family’s store reaching the century mark, a milestone he credits to his dad and uncle buying and expanding the real estate, which now houses a fabulous boutique hotel as well as the iconic store in NOLA’s renowned French Quarter. David considers himself the luckiest guy in the world to be working with family and seeing good friends every single day.

A celebrity in his own right, Dapper Dan used to swim in the Harlem River and write for a radical newspaper called Forty Acres and a Mule. He’s now a creative director for Sherwin Williams; his artwork is displayed in the Smithsonian, the Museum at FIT, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and other prestigious venues. He views his work as “translating culture” rather than dictating fashion.

Congrats to all of MR’s 2024 award winners. Your initiatives continue to uplift and inspire us.

Gladson Bamboo at the Tailory photographed by Rose Callahan on Jan 26, 2022 in NYC


  1. Congratulations to all these incredible Iconic Merchants…
    Well deserved I must say and personally honored to have worked with them all… 😎🙏🥰
    🍷🍷 Saluti

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