Gary’s: California Cool

by Karen Alberg Grossman

Reputed to be one of few stores to mix traditional and contemporary in a way that makes sense, Gary’s is known throughout the industry as a truly fabulous store. Says Giles Preston from Zegna, “Their secret is that they sell the world’s finest luxury products in a friendly approachable environment. Dick and Johnny are wonderful people and Steve Ramenofsky is the most passionate buyer I work with. No one gets as excited by the perfect swatch…”

According to Ramenofsky (who’s been with the store for about 20 years), “Premium denim is on fire and it’s not going away. (It’s all I want to wear and I think I’m fairly typical.) We’re doing well with Boss jeans, 575, Seven, Stitches, Zegna and Alberto. We carry about 22 jeans brands and they’re selling with cut and sewn sportshorts from Zegna, Etro and Robert Graham. Plus we re-did the Boss shop and it’s really crankin!”

“The whole contemporary portion is hot,” Ramenofsky reiterates. “It’s 25 percent of our menswear and growing quickly. The jeans bring in younger guys who might buy only jeans for now but at least they’re getting acclimated to the store. (And at $165 to $300, it’s not an insignificant sale…) Johnny is our contemporary maven: he pushes the jeans business, he’s on it, he gets it, and he brings a youthful point of view that’s been great for us… Between great brands and great sales people, this store has become a destination.”

But bottom line, Gary’s DNA is really all about Dick Braeger, the culture he’s created and the energy he brings to the table. Says Ramenofsky, “Dick is the most personable guy there is: he’ll spend time with anyone to create a friendship and he’s been a mentor to so many. What’s more, he’s incredibly loyal to his employees, loyal to a fault perhaps but that’s who he is. He takes care of his people; there’s virtually no turnover here…”