George Feldenkreis
by Karen Alberg Grossman
George Feldenkreis
George Feldenkreis and Mark Rosenberg

Perry Ellis International’s executive chairman and founder George Feldenkreis was honored last week at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU (Florida International University) for his numerous contributions to the fashion industry. Born in Havana to Russian immigrant parents, Feldenkreis moved from Cuba to Miami in 1961 and established Supreme Intl in 1967, importing school uniforms and guayaberas. PEI’s current brand portfolio (presided over by George’s son Oscar, who is now PEI’s CEO and president) includes Perry Ellis, Original Penguin, Cubavera, Natural Issue, Jantzen, Laundry by Shelli Segal, Ben Hogan, Grand Slam and many others well-respected names. In addition to his innovations in fashion and technology, George Feldenkreis is known for his philanthropy. Here, we chat with him about this recent honor.

Q: To what do you most attribute your success?

A: I believe it’s a combination of everything that’s happened in my life but mostly perseverance and determination. Of course moving to America was a tremendous factor: this great country has blessed me with so many opportunities to succeed.

Q: What do you see as the future of retailing now that so many department stores are struggling?

A: The future successful retailers will be those who can adapt intelligently to technology, and discern how to best allow consumers to have memorable and engaging shopping experiences.

Q: PEI is known for giving back– where does this generous spirit come from?

A: My love of philanthropy stems from my faith in the Jewish religion and from witnessing first-hand the benefits of giving back and donating. When one is philanthropic, it’s completely rewarding: you get back even more than you give. This is my conviction – both personally and professionally – and this is at the heart of the values I’ve tried to instill in my family and in our corporate culture.

George FeldenkreisQ: How would you describe your strengths as a businessman?

A: Having a global company of more than 2,500 employees, I pride myself in sharing my knowledge and life experience with my staff. I also place a very high value on education and mentoring.

Q: What in your life are you most proud of?

A: My family. My son Oscar and my daughter Fanny make me especially proud, of both their work ethic and the manner they’ve learned to flourish together. It’s their hard work and team work that have enabled us to be successful.

Q: What’s the best advice you could give to your grandchildren?

A: Work hard and be true to your values and your faith. Be proud of your Hispanic culture and continue our family legacy.

George Feldenkreis