by Karen Alberg Grossman

There is no one in the menswear industry or anywhere on the planet quite like my friend Eliot Rabin. Born in Charleston, S.C., educated at The Citadel (and then Bloomingdale’s for his retail credentials), this is one of the most creative merchants in menswear with a taste level beyond compare. A former U.S. Army Captain, he’s also the most opinionated, defying government orders to close his stores early in the pandemic. “Why is a liquor store essential and I’m not,” he proclaimed to the New York Post. “I’m opening my doors come hell or high water.”

What’s more, this is a guy who ran for Congress, and who’s spent the past 45 years creating and merchandising fabulous men’s, women’s and boys’ wear in several beautiful boutiques on the Upper East Side. He creates his own poetry on the spot, he’s Santa Claus at Christmas time (the kids love him!) and despite his sometimes stern demeanor, he’s got a heart of gold. Ya Mon!

Proclaims Massimo Bizzocchi at Kiton, “I’m delighted to celebrate the greatest veteran in menswear. Happy Happy Birthday Eliot with a trillion best wishes!”

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY ELIOT!” says his beautiful business partner Isabelle in her lovely French accent. “I am so thankful to be your friend and to be working with you for the past 20 years.”

Eliot with Tony Maddox of Coppley Apparel

“Our industry is very fortunate to have someone like Elliot,” says Tony Maddox at Coppley Apparel. “His passion, attention to detail and energy never waver. He is always a great inspiration. Our company is very grateful to have him as a customer who has embraced our vision. And I am truly honored to call him a friend.”

“I’ve known Elliot for more than 25 years,” says Enrique Rodriguez-Pastor from Peru Unlimited. “He even appears with me in my main Facebook photo, which shows how important he’s been to me. I remember I once took with me to MAGIC NY a $2900 sample vicuña V-neck in a $300 wooden box. A minute after Eliot came to my booth, the sample was GONE! And so was Elliot… He returned one hour later, proudly wearing the missing sweater. I’d been so upset, assuming that someone had stolen this precious sample. Only Elliot would have taken it, without saying a word.”

Ali Khatami at Nikky knows him well. “I’ve known Eliot since my mid 20s and I am 57 now. My how time flies! My first ever phone conversation was listening to him complaining (and quite rightly so) about the arrogance of a salesperson we both knew. I listened and commented that even Nixon was pardoned to which he replied with laughter, in his booming voice, “When do you want to come to the store to show me the line, kid ?” And from there, our friendship began.

Elliot, as little and compact as he is, has the biggest personality, the biggest baritone voice, the bushiest eyebrows, the off-the-charts, mile-a-minute manner of speaking, the best barrage of great ideas. When he’s on a roll, which is most of the time, the energy level in the gathering is very high octane. All that said, he is so very sweet: My children adore him!

“Close to 50 years in NYC, Peter Elliot has become synonymous with Upper East Side retail. And Eliot himself is a permanent fixture, very tasty, undeniably and charmingly insane, an instinctive merchant, and always true to his basic core values. He’s the type of man that Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ could have been written for. Or Elton John’s ‘I’m still standing!’ If there were the equivalent of the Oscars in our business, Eliot would win hands down!”


  1. Happy Birthday Eliot. A man of style who teaches the merchandisers how to merchandise.

  2. Wonderful! Happy birthday Eliot. You bought my line when I just started, and for that I’ll always be grateful. And 80! With your energy and idea flow, I would NOT have guessed that!

  3. Grande Amico Eliot
    Happy belated birthday
    What an honor and a pleasure to know you for half of our life.
    You are a great friend and merchant
    Congratulations for your multiples achievements.

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