How raffi shaya works

by Michael Macko

Raffi ShayaRaffi ShayaRaffi Shaya has often been called the “King of Cashmere,” but I prefer to think of him as the Godfather. He started Raffi Cashmere, one of the most innovative brands with the luxury fiber, in 1998. There is always something new, whether it’s garment washing or tie-dying or a version you can throw in the washing machine (in the works now). I recently visited his Port Washington complex/warehouse to see how Raffi works.

1. THE TROPHIES “Raffi began playing golf in 2002 and immediately became hooked, as is evident by the number of trophies scattered throughout his office. While he likes both the exercise and challenge of the game, Raffi also likes taking buyers to Engineers Country Club in nearby Roslyn Harbor. I asked if he ever lets the buyers win, for fear there might otherwise be a smaller open-to-buy when they got back to the office. “Never” he tells me.”

2. THE GLASSES “Raffi would hardly be recognizable without his signature boldly colored eyeglasses. He keeps them in a clear glass vase on his desk and changes them daily to match his look of the day. He also confesses that what’s in the vase is only part of his collection and there are an equal number of pairs at home and in the car. In all, he owns about 30 pairs, enough for him to have a wholesale account with Eyebobs, who makes them all.”

3. THE GOATS “As ubiquitous as Raffi cashmere sweaters themselves, the goats first made their appearance in 2004/2005 when Raffi made his preliminary trip to Mongolia to check out their raw goods. He saw one there and ordered 500 to hand out to retailers, buyers and friends. Raffi has re-ordered the item so many times the goat now has its own hashtag: #goatknows.”

4. THE FAMILY “Raffi Cashmere is truly a family business. His wife and three daughters all work alongside him in design, sales and on his women’s line. His six grandchildren also love to come visit and help inspire him, and when they’re not there physically, their images and artwork are seen throughout his office.”

5. THE COLORS “A master of color, Raffi comes up with a new palette every season. Not surprisingly all shades of gray and blue are the company’s best sellers. The color he is most excited about for F/W ’16 is Peacock, a beautiful shade of blue-green that you can see right above Raffi’s left thumb.”